Birthplace: Military Checkpoint

Qalandia Checkpoint

I’m currently subscribed, via e-mail, to the “Visualizing Palestine” team. Their organization creates socially-responsible infographics which I highly appreciate.

Shown above is their newest infographic release as of this month.

Shown below is the statement that comes along with their e-mail. Need I say more?

Born at Qalandia Checkpoint (the title of this infographic) focuses on the impact of Israeli movement restrictions on the everyday lives of Palestinians. The phenomenon of Palestinian women forced to give birth at military checkpoints peaked during the Second Intifada (2000-05). Since this time, Palestinian women in remote areas have increasingly resorted to coping strategies of relocating in the weeks prior to delivery, or giving birth at home.

By supporting humanitarian remedies such as the training of midwives but not mounting legal or diplomatic challenge to Israeli abuses, the UN and international agencies have sought to address the symptoms but not the root cause of the problem, which remains Israel’s policies of settlement, segregation and contol over the lives of Palestinians.” (emphasis added)

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Weakest Link

Go. Judge a country by the way it treats its weakest members. If thousands or even millions are still plagued by inhumane living conditions, what’s there to be proud of? While governments may display how “urbanized” their cities are growing, wonder if this so-called “development” is equitably spread across. Development is usually constricted upon city centers and is often only enjoyed by the minority who are well-off.

Problem is, this has been going on…
                                                           And on…
                                                                          And on and on….

Worse than being deadly, this cycle is unjust.

 

 

The Free and The Unfree

“Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter one.” -From John Boyne’s “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”

Image

The flag that the child’s waving is the Palestinian flag. This internationally-criticized wall/barrier has been set up by the Israeli government.
*Photo from Abayomi Azikiwe

I closed my 2012 by reading “The Boy in Striped Pajamas”. I also watched the movie right after. The fiction, in itself, is very sad.

But.

What’s even sadder is knowing that fictions like these have happened and still do happen up to this day. It’s heart-breaking, really.

In The Name of Love, Thou Shall Not Abandon

A few days ago, I and a friend watched the critically-acclaimed Iranian movie “A Separation”. I’d like to share below one of the most beautiful lines I’ve heard. These lines, in particular, show Nader’s love for his father who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s. He refuses to leave his dad behind.

Simin: “He doesn’t even know you’re his son!”
Nader: “But I know he’s my father.”

Now, I ask you. Why do you love? Do you love to be loved back? Or… Do you love for the sake of loving?

 “A Separation” or “جدایی نادر از سیمین‎” (in Persian) won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. It also won the Golden Bear for Best Film in the 61st Berlin International Film Festival.

Bravo!

As they say, the truth hurts

“He was that political figure all politicians fear: the moralist who cannot bear to let any wrong deed go undenounced. As a politician he had the fatal defect of the totally honest man: He insisted on the truth even when the truth was the most inconvenient.” -Russell Baker (He was speaking of George Orwell in the preface section of the “Animal Farm”)

Wow. 2012 went by so fast. It’s the third of January 2013 today. The first three days of the year! I wonder how fast time will fly again till I get say “Wow, 2013 went by so fast”. I guess it’s just a matter of time before those words escape my mouth again. I hope I do get to say that. And, I hope you’re still here by then too.

Anyway, I’m making this post in order to “save” that quote I found after reading the “Animal Farm.” I mentioned this book to you in my previous post. I read it towards the end of December and I couldn’t be happier to have done so. You see, although Orwell’s story is something I applaud very much, I surprisingly felt moved more by one of the lines I read in the book’s preface. I read the preface after I read the story. I wanted to jump into the story itself and not get bothered by any hodgepodge of introduction the book may come with. However, amazingly, it was within the preface that I felt a gem of a reflection to hold unto. As I read what Baker wrote, I felt so connected, so moved, and so awakened by what he said.

See, so many things happened to me back in 2012. That year will always be a momentous one for me. In my university, I accepted a challenge and an opportunity. That season placed me in a situation that I never thought I would find myself in. During that moment, in the first quarter of 2012, I had to face possibly what I consider as one of the biggest challenges in my life for that year and it was… It was trying to hold unto the truth. It was trying my best, my very best to say the truth even if it was “the most inconvenient.”

The circumstance came when I witnessed a great hoax committed before me. I knew that it was utterly wrong–especially since what was put on the line was the university’s sacred values. I asked myself how can a leader, a public figure trying to win the people’s trust, commit such deception and dishonesty in order to earn more campaign time–more campaign exposure elsewhere? I felt duped right at that instant. Instead of standing by their actions and facing the corresponding consequences of their decisions, they chose to cheat instead. People whom I respected were guilty of this. What’s worse, these people were those I considered as friends.

When such a moment comes, you ask yourself… Should you just stay blind to that hoax committed before you? If you know that standing by the truth–even if that means hurting a friend or so and, possibly, even losing support from the comrades of that friend of yours–would you even pursue in doing so? Would you pursue in doing the RIGHT thing even if this is so hard to do?

Well. At that moment, I DID pursue.

It was one of the toughest decisions I ever made. I already knew then that I could lose a lot for speaking up the truth and challenging some of the strongest positions the opposing party stood for. I tried to alleviate the situation beforehand. I made them aware that I discovered the hoax that they did and made them know that it was wrong (surely, they knew it as well). I was hoping that they would act upon this immediately, and correct what they’ve done wrong. Sadly, no action was taken upon. My plea fell upon deaf ears.

Then, the time came. In front of a ferocious crowd, I “insisted on the truth even when the truth was the most inconvenient.” I just couldn’t let that go undenounced–even if that meant hurting a friend, a loved-one, or a complete opponent altogether. The truth IS the truth. Justice, real justice does not take sides. Well, it does. But only in the side of what’s true and what’s right.

After that event happened, I felt as if I emerged as a stronger person. I felt that despite the hurdles, it was all worth-it. This may sound exaggerated but it was the type of decision I could have died with peacefully. I didn’t care if there were those who hated the truth. Again, the truth is the truth. No amount of hate can change it. I wasn’t scared of any other person–be that a friend or an entire political group. I wasn’t scared of what the papers would speak of me (they were already biased anyway). I wasn’t scared of losing those earthly possessions that absorbed many people–power and fame, to name a few.

What I was scared of was being a coward. I was scared of not being able to STAND UP for the truth, especially when it was needed. I was scared that if I kept my mouth shut, letting this incident pass will destroy the moral fibers that I had in me–moral fibers that are immensely necessary if ever I do pursue the field of politics and law, someday. I fear that if I fail to stand up for what’s right at this early point in life (because for example, I’m scared to lose votes or I’m scared to gain ‘opponents’), then I may not be able to stand up against other harder situations that will be thrown at me in the future.

Looking back, I truly learned a lot. I realized how sometimes, people can choose to be blind when they see that one of their own comrades committed a wrongdoing. Some groups, despite their high benchmark of principled leadership, can choose to let a hoax go undenounced if it is their friend, loved one, or party mate, who has been found guilty. Unfortunately, they attack the one who insisted on the inconvenient truth instead and, along the way, pulverize their own esteemed values in exchange for healing their well-protected reputation.

I also realized how there are those who instead of being humble enough to admit and correct one’s wrongdoing, they would rather choose to push the issue away from themselves and conceal it altogether. Why not have the courage to admit and come clean instead? Why not have the humility to ask for an apology? We all make mistakes. Why not amend such mistake through transparency and accountability? Where is this integrity that you so highly speak of?

Since then, I have continuously hoped that I can keep this moral courage in me through the years. I pray, I sincerely pray, that even in the future, I do not become scared to challenge anyone–be this a friend, an opponent, or even myself–if what was at stake were values of truth, justice, and accountability. I must always remember that at the end of the day, I’m just a sojourner. I’ll leave this world and die with nothing to bring but my deeds and honor. In the hereafter, I shall be judged not by the earthly riches that I’ve acquired but by the integrity of my character.

Even if some may spite me for saying the truth—for the truth did hurt them—do they not know that for without truth, we live in deceit?

PS: Happy New Year, everyone.