Thursday, April 22, 2010

If You Love Until It Hurts...

Surely you've heard the quote of Mother Teresa: "I have found the paradox that if you love until it hurts, there is no hurt - only more love."
I think it's fair to say that, I have loved until it hurts. And I would like to say that I've found her words to be true.
Other things that happen when you love until it hurts...

~You come to know yourself better
~You come to better understand, appreciate and love the world and the creatures in it called "humans"
~You are able to receive love even more
~You stop caring about some pretty insignificant things that were wasting space in your life
~You want to love more, not less
~Your mind is flooded with thoughts and memories that make you laugh and cry, and you begin to understand the co-existence of joy and sorrow
~If you believe, as I do, in the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ, and that he suffered for love of the world... then you get a little, tiny glimpse of how great God's love for us really is. It's truly awesome.

Maybe it's not that the "hurt" ceases or disappears... but it is overwhelmed by the reality of all that Love really is. The pain is just a symptom... evidence... of the thing that matters most of all.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Everyday Tragedies of War

(Above: Third-generation-refugees growing up in Deheisha Refugee Camp near Bethlehem, West Bank.)
It is sad to me that, anymore, when we speak of war it's mostly in political and economic terms. Most of us have no better frame of reference for truly understanding the impact war has on this world. While I don't want to forget the real lives, including the lives of many people I met while visiting the West Bank last year, that are affected by war, I do want to point out some of the glaring injustices that have been brought to my attention, particularly regarding the U.S.'s involvement in (basically) subsidizing Israel's illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
From a great report by The Only Democracy?:

In terms of how Israel chose to fund the ongoing Occupation, with much help from the U.S., we learn that "there were still other routes the government could have taken, such as increasing the capital gains tax; raising income tax for the upper income brackets – or at least not reducing it; imposing a war loan; cutting the salaries of senior government officials, local government officials, and high-ranking military officers; cutting the ‘fat’ in the military budget; or reducing government benefits to well-to-do sectors of the population, among them residents of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. The option chosen was to make cuts whose main effect was to lower the standard of living of Israel’s middle and lower classes.” (emphasis mine)

This reminds me of the words sung by Derek Webb: "When justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war/The ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor."

Not only does the United States continue to give incredible amounts of "aid" to Israel ($3 billion in 2009), but "75 percent of the funds are earmarked for purchases from US industry. Consequently, it’s no wonder that the aid agreement between the U.S. and Israel has for some years now been changing the ratio of military to civilian aid, increasing the former while incrementally canceling the latter. As journalist Moti Bassok wrote in 2007,'Each year throughout the present agreement civilian aid was reduced by $120 million, while military aid grew $60 million. As of next year, annual U.S. aid will [… be] all military,' forming an integrated enabling component of Israel’s continuing and destructive militarization. It would seem that the economic and political elites of both the US and Israel have vested interests in continuing Israel’s militarization, occupation and choice of warfare." (emphases mine)

It would seem that both the U.S. and Israel have the same problem. It would seem that both countries are continuing to decrease social spending while increasing military spending. It would seem that citizens of both countries are living under and buying into "the official, as well as media, focus on national fear and ‘national security’."

I'm so glad that the way things seem to be isn't the way they have to always be.
I have hope that there are people who imagine that things can be different ...whether Israeli citizens refusing to serve in the IDF, or U.S. citizens refusing to pay income taxes in protest to funding wars; whether Christians putting themselves "in the way" of violent conflicts or pledging allegiance to Something higher than the nation-state... and I want to live my life with such imagination, so that together we can experience and share something that is different.