Your country and you

I’m having a crisis of faith about our country Yoni. It’s a beautiful and special place. A miracle really. But it comes at a terrible cost. It’s had its ups and downs, but now things seem different to me.

I just don’t think things are going to improve here. I’m willing to wager that by the time you read this, and are old and wise enough to understand what’s written here, things will still be the same. And it doesn’t matter which government is in power. That’s the sad thing. The system is broken and there isn’t the will amongst the people to fix it. I mean, there is a will, everyone here thinks he knows how to fix ‘the problems’ – but this country feels to me like it is beyond repair right now.  The people are tired, easily distracted by their daily struggles. I think that, at best, our country will limp along, from one crisis to another, from one elated victory to morose defeat, up and down, up and down, again and again – for a very long time. Tension and release, tension and release – only it gets more tense between each cycle.

Internally, this country is coming apart at the seams like never before. Externally, our neighbors, far from coming to accept our existence here, are becoming even more hateful of us. They hate us beyond all comprehension – a violent, terrible hate.

There is so much talk of war here now.  There’s always been war here, and in between, talk of war, but it’s different this time, bigger, more threatening, more existential.

To live a normal life here we’ll have to fight forever. We’ll have to fight against each other [there are many Israelis who see themselves outside of our state, its laws, and its norms] and we’ll have to fight against our neighbors.

And I don’t want to condemn you to a life of endless wars.

I hear how some people talk here: “My grandson, he’s going to be a General for sure, or at least a Colonel.”

You know what Yoni? I don’t want you to grow up to be a General or a Colonel, or a Sargent Major or even a Captain. You might want to be these things some day, but I don’t want these things for you. I don’t want you to be a pawn. And I don’t want you to be a hero. I want you to live a long and happy life. I’d much rather you be a historian, a sculptor, a singer,  a poet, a builder, or even a computer programmer [yuck]. Anything but a soldier. God forbid you become a warrior. A soldier is bad enough, but a warrior is worse.

I worry that you’ll want to become a warrior. You’re strong, independent, curious, and stout – all these things I can already tell about you.

So how do I get you out of this black hole, that sucks in boy after boy after boy? And is it even the right thing to do? And what’s to say that, even if I do manage to get you out, that you won’t go back in of your own accord, much as I did?

I’m sorry if I’m scaring you. You’re way too young to think about these things; but I look at you now, tiny little man, and I can’t imagine you as a grownup. What kind of man will you grow up to be? In this country, young men want to become warriors. They are encouraged to want to become warriors.

What would you do if you were me?

3 thoughts on “Your country and you

  1. Pingback: Israel Gaza fighting: What’s it’s like to be in Jerusalem as the conflict escalates. | Up to the hour news

  2. Pingback: Dispatch From Jerusalem » The 19th Floor

  3. Pingback: From Slate.com: Two Different Takes on Conflict in Israel | Stories From Everywhere

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