By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Life in Palestine moves along with its ups and downs, like the tides of the sea. Some days we feel depressed, some days more optimistic. Some of us even feel like manic depressives for the fact that we go through these cycles. The triggers are varied. We get depressed when we heard of the murders of 84 people in Nice by a deranged lunatic. We get uplifted when we hear of how victims’ families, friends, and concerned citizens (of all religions and backgrounds) came together in solidarity. We get depressed for the bombings in Baghdad that killed over 250 innocent civilians (again by deranged lunatics) or of the innocents in Yemen and Syria. We get uplifted watching good citizens rush to help the injured and then take to the streets to demand an end to end the mayhem created by the US, Saudi, and Israeli governments (the real axis of evil here).We get depressed to hear from friends in Gaza of the continuing hardships and almost impossible life they live under Israeli siege. That siege does not seem to end as the Turkish government “normalized” its relationship with Israel (i.e. went back to being a partner in crime). We get uplifted by the indomitable spirit of resistance of the young people who don’t give up. We hear Bernie Sanders abandon his principles and support Hillary Clinton for President (she is a Zionist war monger and will not be much better than the lunatic Donald Trump). We get uplifted to see many citizens including many of the disgruntled supporters of Sanders move towards voting for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein. The Green Party is the only political party in the US which remains consistently anti-war, anti-exploitation, and for peace and justice around the world (including in Palestine with their support of the right of return). But even within the democratic and republican parties voices of reason are raised occasionally against special interests (including of the powerful Israel lobby that has hijacked US foreign policy).
We get depressed when I heard the right wing Israeli government approved a bill that targets human rights activists and appointed a racist to be chief rabbi of the Israeli army. But then we get uplifted seeing more young people refusing to serve/be conscripted in that immoral army. All of us discover that a person we trusted and helped went on to try to hurt us. But many of us can recall unexpected kindness from strangers. All this can be confusing!
Some days I am personally at the brink of despair due to the difficulties we face in trying to build a museum and a botanical garden under a very difficult situation and without support, to recruit volunteers, and to find donors.
Working 15-17 hours a day, seven days a week to accomplish what in any other civilized country could be accomplished in half the time can be frustrating. But on these same days or in days before them or after them we feel elated by what is happening. A wave of positive energy seems to descend out of nowhere on some days. Just this week we had groups of visitors and volunteers daily and we had one day in which some 25 students came during their summer camp for an environmental day at the museum. Here they learned some new skills and ideas as they volunteered to work in our botanical garden. One day I learned that one grant was rejected and the next day I learned that one of our research papers was accepted and I learned of two other grant possibilities.
This back and forth continues and it could be just as natural as the cycle of the ocean tides or the rotation of the planets. Maybe expecting life to be good is like expecting the sun up 24 hours! So am are we optimists or pessimists or pessoptimist or realist? Tragedies around us continue. We could choose to isolate ourselves from them for example by going to live in a country with less troubles but in an increasingly globalized world that might be difficult. Even if possible, that life leads to a selfish disconnect from others and a life of pain and guilty conscience. The alternative is what the Buddhists call “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world.” The trick to being content is not to fight the rising tide nor to push against the falling tide but to learn to roll with that tide while also doing your best to stay true to yourself.
Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem University (BU) and directs the BU’s cytogenetics laboratory and the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability in occupied Palestine.
(Via Just Commentary, Malaysia)
By Mazin Qumsiyeh