Thursday, January 08, 2009

I will never understand

Every now and then Cathy will look over from whatever she's reading or watching on TV and say, "I know this is a stupid question, but..."

And they're normally not stupid questions. She asks good questions and sometimes I have the answer and sometimes I do not. She asks because while I won't pretend to be smart about any one specific area, I maintain a healthy level of what I call "journalist knowledge". Which means I'm not a genius at many things, but knowledgeable about a lot of things.

An unkind way might be to say a mile wide and an inch deep, but that's not too far off the mark. I'm very good at Jeopardy and recently scared the hell out of Cathy by going more than two straight weeks of knowing the answer to final Jeopardy.

I say this because if Cathy turns to me the next few days and asks me what's going on with Israel, Hamas and Gaza, I'm just going to sit there with my mouth hanging open. Oh sure, I could mention something about the politics of the situation, ending of ceasefires, religion and more. I could get fancy and mention a West Wing quote about all the above might be true, but what it boils down to is that it's hot, dry and there's not enough water.

But then I see something like this and I realize I have no damn idea. By the way, no kidding, that link contains a strong image. Some of you might not be able to handle it, and I'm thinking especially of those of you with small kids.

But then, because that image isn't horrible enough, you get to read the words underneath and realize there's a pretty decent chance the body of a child was deliberately placed there by Hamas. As a prop, to make sure photographers get the right shot that will outrage people.

I swear to God, I read that, got up and walked away from the computer and tried very hard not to cry.

I will never understand the Middle East. Never. And there are days like today I'm deeply grateful for that.

Last Five
1. Not my idea - Garbage
2. World keeps turning - Tom Waits
3. Across the universe - Fiona Apple
4. The future is X-rated - Matthew Good Band*
5. Slow hands - Interpol


SRD said...

The best thing I have read recently is Avi Shlaim in yesterday's Guardian:


Amy H. said...

Oh my god. Thanks for the warning on that picture, after the link. Clicked through and saw it first. It's all just so sad.

I have always been interested in, fascinated and horrified by the situation in the middle east, Israel/Palestine in particular and took several courses in University on middle eastern history and politics and I still have no clear idea why.

Everyone thinks they are right, and their faith supports this belief. Messy, horrifying and deadly.

Jackie S. Quire said...


I experienced the following emotions during your post:

Empathy for Cathy: I often find myself "buffering" questions with the "This may be a silly question but..."

Empathy for you: I am realizing more and more that I'm this disgusting wealth of useless knowledge (I was at a new year's eve party and somehow ended up discussing the merits of the NFL vs the NHL franchises. I don't watch either, but somehow managed to pull out this totally cohesive argument), but like you say, it runs a mile long but only a centimeter deep (:P I'm not as knowledgeable as you yet, haha)

Frustration, because I'll never really fully understand things like the Israle/Gaza conflict, or the reason why the American real estate sector is related to the economic downfall for an entire planet (I'm being over-dramatic).

And then nausea and confusion when I clicked on the photo and had to deal with the fact that this child not only had to suffer a premature and unfair/unjust death... but abuse after death as well.

Again, Sigh.

ThePerfectStorm said...

Two words: asymmetrical warfare.

No defending it, but these are not our grand dad's wars any longer.

Out of desperation that comes from facing an over-whelming enemy, the desensitizing of thousands mercilessly killed, and simmered-in through generations of squalor, ignorance, and hatred, they reach for anything and everything that works as a weapon.

There is no understanding any of this. The majority of Canadians haven't grown up in such a culture so steeped in hate. The only end game will be one eliminating the other.

Given the slow, grinding, rate of the killing, there are plenty that get the time needed to arise (on both sides) to carry on the culture of death.

It's still shocking however that human beings can do this to one another, and then go home and kiss their kids goodnight.


Jason said...

The Guardian's coverage is the best so far of most of the western media. Again horrible images but you really need to remember Israel is not the rah rah good guy that they are so often potrayed as. The article that SRD linked to should be required reading for people looking to understand.

towniebastard said...

Some logical part of me does understand. The history, the politics, the religion. I'm not an unintelligent man (I hope).

But then there are days when, logically, it makes perfect sense to me if that part of the world simply slipped into the Mediterranean.

And Jackie, one of my favourite quotes from my time as a jouralist comes from - There are No Stupid Questions. But there are a LOT of Inquisitive Idiots.