Tuesday, May 04, 2010

"I Refuse to be Complicit" - Dina Elmuti

To anyone out there suffering and struggling, keep your head up high and remember: do not fear the winds of adversity; a kite rises against the wind rather than with it.

So, I sit here thinking about the lives of Latifa and Fidaa -- two women not much younger than myself who lost their lives before they really began. I think about the countless others whose names and stories I don't know and may never know, and I can't help but feel hideously entitled and favored compared to them, as if my life here were regarded with so much more value and worth than theirs. I can't help but view my struggle [with cancer] as being so minute compared to theirs, and I can't escape that overwhelming sense of guilt I feel for not being able to do more. I cannot and will never be able to fathom why I am able to receive the medicines and treatments necessary to help me with such ease, while those suffering, like Latifa, Fidaa, and countless others imprisoned in Gaza, were not even given the simple chance of fighting for their lives. Are their lives really viewed so worthless? Do they not feel joy, fear, and pain the same way that you or I would? I ask those who are reading this, those of you familiar and those of you who may not be so familiar with Palestinian struggle, to take a moment to reflect and imagine how you would feel if you were in their shoes.

All political jargon and minutiae aside, I ask you to just think about their situation from an unadulterated, humanitarian point of view. Can you begin to imagine what it would it feel like to just wait to die from a treatable illness? How would you react, if you were to have the grim thought of losing your battle at any moment due to unjust, bureaucratic measures, always in the back of your mind? For so many in Gaza, receiving a diagnosis of cancer, heart problems, or any other serious medical emergency is essentially a death sentence inflicted upon them by "the only democracy in the Middle East." Perhaps those who continue to believe that Israel is indeed such a "democracy" can help me answer a question that has been gnawing at my conscience for years now: why are the lives of those suffering over there, under occupation and in silence, not deemed as valuable as our lives over here?

At times, I find myself unable to fully digest all that's happened in such a short amount of time. I left there a person who took a lot for granted, someone who complained about so much in life quite unwarrantedly. Today, I sit here writing to you as a completely changed person.

My last image from Aida, forever embedded in my memory, may be of a simple pastime in Palestine, but it is one that speaks volumes in terms of embodying the resilient and innovative spirit of the Palestinian people. A group of young boys flew kites in the afternoon breeze -- some were colorful, some were plain, some were in the shape of animals or superheroes, and some were ingeniously made out of old garbage bags tied to string. That zeal and zest for life are what continue to amaze me about the Palestinian people, particularly those living under siege and occupation in Palestine. Despite all the pain, suffering, and hardships thrown their way on a daily basis, whether in the West Bank or Gaza, they continue to manage to find a way to make the very best of their situation, never pitying themselves or asking for charity.

Today, I write to you as a survivor. I am one of the lucky ones, and I will never forget that. I am a Palestinian who was not denied rights because I don't live under siege or occupation. That revolting reality has never and will never fade from my conscience.

So, to any and all facing struggles, here and abroad, I'd just like to remind you to never give up, nor to ever be bullied into silence. I, for one, will not and cannot remain silent when so much injustice continues to take place before my eyes. That is why I write today. My silence makes me complicit in war crimes, and I simply refuse to be a culprit. Such sheer injustice and depravity cannot and will not be condoned any longer, and I will do my very best to make sure my voice is heard, even in its limited volume. To anyone out there suffering and struggling, keep your head up high and remember: do not fear the winds of adversity; a kite rises against the wind rather than with it.

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