By Dallas Darling
When Palestinian poet and author Naomi Shihab Nye wrote: ‘A man crosses the street in rain, stepping gently/looking two times north and south, because his son is asleep on his shoulder;’ right now, in this ‘moment of madness,’ it could be used as a metaphor, a ‘pocket of resistance,’ in describing an Israeli soldier who has refused to serve in the Palestinian territories. Instead, he has chosen to start his own hunger strike in a military prison. It is a hunger strike to show solidarity with 1,500 Palestinian detainees who are also unjustly imprisoned and on a massive hunger strike.
"This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo," continues Nye, "but he’s not marked/Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE, HANDLE WITH CARE." This unmarked episode, hidden from the world and ignored by ruling classes, symbolizes a fragile but powerful scene. This off-stage struggle is over violent and militant ideological domination or compassion and revolutionary forgiveness and unity. It may be little more than "small arms fire" in a class war, with its Iron Domes and state of the art weaponry, but his off-stage act is important, even necessary to sustain the bread of life and hope.
"His ear fills up with breathing. He hears the hum of the boy’s dream deep inside him/We’re not going to be able to live in the world if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing with one another." Yaniv Mazor, the Israeli soldier, said his refusal to patrol Occupied Palestine and his act of solidarity was not to highlight his plight, but to stress the injustices that Palestinians endure. He hears their breathing. He too dreams of a land and time when there are no walls, no armed checkpoints, no false arrests, no deadly air raids, and no homes or orchards destroyed. He dreams of honoring a Nakba Day also.
Nye’s poem is titled: "Shoulders." Like the Palestinian hunger strikers and Israeli soldier, how strong, how revolutionary, and how merciful are the shoulders of other Israelis and Palestinians? Do they understand the fragility of one another and the importance of handling life, each other, with care? And how un-dominant, how un-militant, and how un-hateful are our own shoulders? Will the road only be wide, and the rain never stop falling?(2) To live in a world of security with peace and justice, we must learn to carry each other on our shoulders, just like the Palestinian hunger strikers and Israeli soldier.
– Dallas Darling is the author several books, including: Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: wn.com//dallasdarling.
(1) Herzog, William R. Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus. Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 2005., p. 193.
(2) Nye, Naomi Shihab. "Shoulders." (Note: the original poem reads: "The road will only be wide. The rain will never stop falling.")