Thomas Abraham, my dad, was born and spent much of his life in the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain, was a journalist for the small island nation’s newspaper for several years, and later focused on Middle Eastern issues while working in a humanitarian faith-based non-profit in New York City. When he went to Jerusalem many years ago, he got “Jerusalem sickness” the sudden, unexpected and almost apocalyptic depression and fear that occasionally assaults visitors to the hearth of the three great monotheistic faiths.
Thomas Friedman – that globalization theorist and New York Time Opinion Writer who is much loved-and-hated in the Macalester context – recently wrote an intriguing proposal in the New York Times. Putting aside the audacity he displayed by writing as Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the king of Saudi Arabia, he proposes a creative Five-State Solution, which, as implausible as it may seem, actually demonstrates some keen insight into the perverse and tangled political allegiances that could empower the Arab world to help solve the two-state crisis. We can argue about global flattening all we want, but thank goodness for some creativity, regardless of how hairbrained it may end up being, or how much we might wish to deny it as implausible.
My friend Ethan Buckner, who has become a rising star of Minnesota’s high school climate activists, helped organize Minnesota PowerShift with me. During the conference, he hadn’t slept for three days since he was so stressed from organizing it while preparing to leave for a year-long travel program based in Israel (but visiting many other countries including Greece, Bulagria, Morrocco, Spain, and India) which started three days later. While he was over in Israel, he happened to re-meet Minnesota’s Governor Tim Pawlenty, who Ethan and I (and several others) had crossed paths with at the Youth Forum on Global Warming Solutions held at St. Thomas in March 2008. Ethan stamped his remark indelibly in the mind of hundreds by starting with “with all due respects to your pie chart Governor” – referring to a chart Pawlenty used to argue that drastically reducing fossil fuel use was unrealistic given the scale of the problem. Ethan was in Israel exploring his cultural heritage and that of many other cultures. Governor Pawlenty was in Israel to talk about the aid the United States provides to the country. A couple months later, Ethan is glad to have narrowly missed the war in Gaza when he came home for break – after narrowly escaping riots in Greece and having the trip to India delayed because of the Mumbai attacks. He said “the conflict seems so different there – like it means so much more from all sides – when you’re actually there.” Ethan’s a hard core progressive activist. I think this says we have to be careful about how we see things when we look from a distance.
And then I received the Facebook update from Shadia Fayne Wood, a friend of mine who has been rocking the climate movement for quite a while – particularly with the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative. Her thought and search for a better world increasingly seeks inward – in ways that feel familiar and profound. I have always felt that there is so much untapped power in self-transformation. Shadia is Lebanese-American, and sometimes Lebanese, and sometimes American, and sometimes she transforms between the two effortlessly, in the blink of an eye. She wrote a blog post in the heat of the conflict – it is pain, and anger, and a call to action. What will YOU do?
This post: broken fragments, disconnected, dis-jointed, conflicting …
The truth is them all.