OK, so I wrote a non-political diary yesterday called "Stop starting arguments. Start stopping suffering." In it, I implored the community to put aside the Israel-Palestine debate for one goddamn mid-day and give some support, should they want to, to some non-partisan charities who might be able to lend a hand to some injured people to whom this war is something other than a debate to be had.
If you want to donate today, you still can. I'd like that.
Now, I considered that diary to be somewhat of a success. I mean, if one man, woman or child was able to get a visit from a doctor, or some IV fluid, or a sterile hypodermic needle, or some non-stick gauze as a result of my writing and someone else's donation, why shouldn't I consider it a success?
However, to my surprise, there was no part of what I wrote yesterday that proved more controversial to some Kossacks as the following excerpt:
I stay out of Israel/Palestinian arguments. I don't have a dog in the race ethnically, spiritually or politically.
Why was this such a controversial thing for me to say? Was it because it was the first thing I wrote in the diary? Was it a tone thing? All it was was a basic refusal to engage in the political debate. A statement of non-participation. That's what it was. I was wearing black boxers when I wrote it. Maybe that means something.
What kills me about this whole discussion is that it's damn near impossible not to have an opinion on it. If you say you don't know what you think, people call you ignorant or uncaring. If you decline to take part in the conversation, people say you must. If you shrug your shoulders and say it's not really a large part of your day-to-day life, then people remind you that your tax dollars go to support Israel -- therefore you must have an opinion of some sort.
It's a debate you're not permitted to stay out of. It's a debate where you must choose a side. If you will not choose a side, one will be chosen for you.
Let me tell you why I am reluctant to get involved in this discussion.
I don't like to jump into debates that I don't feel prepared to engage in. I can't form opinions on issues that I know very little about.
I claim some ignorance on this topic. Why?
I might have a better-formed opinion on the issue if everyone didn't have their own pet theories and their own hopelessly slanted information sources to back them up. This entire debate is like a nightmarish clusterfuck casserole is smothered in a bitter gravy of raw nerves and paranoia.
Why would I want to grab a spatula and put that on a plate unless I planned on serving it to my worst enemy?
Then at times I'll have a day when I feel like stepping outside my comfort zone. So I seek out some information. I ask a question or two.
But no. You can't read that newspaper! It's controlled by the Zionist media! You can't really trust that Web site! It's run by pro-Palestinian, anti-Semitic kooks!
And all of a sudden my motives are questioned. Rather than just taking my question as a simple question designed to edify my own understanding, people think I'm being disingenuous.
And even when they trust my question enough to answer it, how can I possibly trust the answer when it's given by someone who has clearly made up their own mind on the issue and regards everyone on the other side as a lying tool of evil oppression?
I hate this entire debate. There's something horribly wrong with a discussion where you can't even ask a question or be provided with non-biased information upon which to build your own opinions.
I can't learn about something if I can't ask a question. I can't take part in a debate when everyone else is so consumed with pigeonholing you into one camp or the other.
I can't think of any other debate that is like this. I've talked to all kinds of people about all kinds of things -- gun control, gay rights, abortion, the war on terror. All of these issues are a Sunday afternoon brunch compared to the Israel-Palestinian fucktastrophe.
I held my tongue quite a bit yesterday in the interest of potentially helping a person or two who has to live in the most war-torn area on the planet. I wanted to grab some people and shake them and scream, "What the fuck is wrong with you? Can't you see past your petty, dipshit politics for three Christ-punching seconds and realize that there are people who are dying?"
I already restated the first thing I said in yesterday's diary. The second thing I said was a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, a writer of immense humanity who (along with George Carlin, another very funny person who died recently) helped me form the part of my ideology that humans are basically good beings and worthy of the benefit of the doubt.
Here is another. It is the epitaph on the grave of Kilgore Trout, a dead fictional character invented by a dead author:
We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.
Sometimes I want to yell at people I see in the street: "Hey, did you know that you are the only creature on Earth with free will? That means you don't have to keep living this way if you don't want to!"
We don't have to keep living this way, or talking to each other this way. We can change things. Maybe we can start by changing the debates we have. Remember that people are people on all sides.