Two unspeakable tragedies. Two stories of senseless loss of innocent lives. One is all over our news websites. Probably on all our minds. It could have been us. Most of us having travelled by plane for work or holidays. We feel connected to the loss through the photos and stories of people who share some small link with us – people who have lived in our city, perhaps, or whose families resemble our own in some way. We who are free, we are shocked by how suddenly our lives could be destroyed.
To read about the other story you have to scroll down to the bottom half of the Stuff or Herald websites for an update. The death toll is rising rapidly. The UN says one-fifth of those dying are children.
“I knew that my friend and neighbours had been killed, my dad told me to get up and help them! We ran to the site together, among the rubble and dust I could see body parts. I wanted to run away, but I couldn’t. I have to be strong for this is not the first time that I witness such chaos. This is my third war in Gaza and I’m only 12. How many more wars will I see? How many air strikes can we survive? When is it all going to end? When can I enjoy my childhood and play in the streets like other boys of my age?”
– Mohammad (quote from the Caritas blog)
They are just children, like our children. Playing, learning, exploring the world around them…
What can we do, from so far away?
We can teach our children compassion and empathy. We can teach them to see things from other perspectives, to see the people behind labels, to talk to one another, to hope.
We can pray for peace.
Help us O God, achieve
the peace that cares for the wellbeing of the people;
the peace that rebukes injustice and violence;
the peace that seeks freedom for all;
the peace that heals the hurts of the past;
the peace that enables for today
and releases the potential for tomorrow;
the peace that is new life in Christ.
(from Alternative Ecumenical Service prepared by Middle East churches: http://www.sabeel.org/etemplate.php)