Friday, November 18, 2005
My world literature students are studying satire. Sometimes, though, the news couldn't be more howlingly absurd if Jonathan Swift himself were writing it. Take those Islamic youth in France, rioting, killing, burning, and generally terrorizing all and sundry...all to prove to a skeptical French public that they (the youth afore-mentioned) aren't terrorists.
These young people may feel that they are in the vanguard of a cutting-edge movement to highlight the plight of poor immigrant Muslims in France. But rioting in the streets as a means of redressing percieved wrongs has a tradition in France, going right back to the Terror. It's so 200 years ago.
Everybody's doing it. Unhappy with something in your life? Find somebody to blame, and torch something. Hardly a radical response. Ho hum!
No one can deny the reality of oppression in the modern world. Much of it is based on ethnic and religious hatred. But taking to the streets with death and destruction in mind will never change the hearts and minds of the oppressors; nor will it heal the wounds of the oppressed.
In the same week that the French riot story broke, there was another story that broke with little fanfare. But it was a truly radical response to oppression.
A Palestinian 12-year-old was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers, who mistook his toy gun for a real one. Ahmed Ismail Khatib might have become one more statistic in the long and bloody history of Israeli-Palestinian relations, one more flash-point for internecine retaliations. But Ahmed's parents chose instead to make their son's death a seed of healing They donated his organs for transplant. And not to just any transplant recipients. No. Six Israelis now have a new start in life because Ahmed is dead.
But is he really? I think not. His legacy of love, bold love, sacrificial love will live on in those six Israelis. And it will be a seed of healing. You will not read about it much in the limelight. (Seeds sprout in the dark.)
Now THAT is radical!