Ubiquity of Fear
Peace is ever elusive and safety is becoming increasingly distant for growing numbers of us in Israel/Palestine. Fear is rampant and there are times when its presence is tangible. We’ve become accustomed to the unpredictable. After all, if summer in Gaza 2014 showed us anything it was that we are all vulnerable and even “terrorists” can unpredictably strike at will.
Israel prides itself on its moral high ground. But what can be called high-ground when drone strikes kill, allowing protection of your power without any vulnerability? We can now kill from great distance with no fear of our own death; using mindless machines, highly programmed, acutely attuned. Drones are silent, no one hears their approach. Does this silent, bloodless (on one side) bloodletting accomplish lasting peace or safety for anyone? Does it immunize souls from accountability for actions? After all, no one who aimed and chose to rain armaments on their targets, were in any way compromised. Technology can kill cruelly, almost sterilely, distancing and inoculating those who wield it. Neve Gordon, author of Israel’s Occupation puts it this way; “The drone wars, however, are introducing a risk-free ethics of killing”
Not that all choose the bloodless way. We also see knives brandished on busses in Tel Aviv, or on streets in Jerusalem, targeting unsuspecting travelers going to work or on their way to shop. Ordinary days, ordinary tasks, that should be confidently accomplished are now fraught with fear of the unknown attacker who looks like your brother. Do slash wounds mean more than sterile drone deaths? Were those on the ground, looking like ants, any different from grandmothers on busses? All flesh bleeds red.
Pope Francis, during a global prayer vigil for Syria in 2013 said, “We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves as if it were normal we continue to sow destruction, pain, death. Violence and war lead only to death.” Whether drones, knives, missiles, axes or any other weapon of destruction, death remains death.
Focus is not easy to achieve when fear is ever present, nor are decisions taken in fear always responsible. Our governments, our peoples, live under accumulated weights of fear, easily justified by circumstance and the perceived intentions of the other side. Balance is no longer the operative word when looking at pain, power, security or even justice. Military might is deployed for fear of violence as we are snared in ongoing cycles of provocation and reprisal. In the twenty-first century, is there any safe place for anyone? Must fear be a constant companion, ever ready to erupt?
If we look for safe places in this world, there are none. There is no safe place but for being in God’s will. He alone is the safe place regardless of circumstance or threat. So, we daily choose to walk His ways, according to his direction, knowing that our lives, or our reputations, could be forfeit. Fear need not be ubiquitous for those who dwell in that safe place.