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Looking For Optimism In Israel And Palestine, As Hard As That May Be

It can be hard to feel good about the world like it is right now. We see mass death, endless war and those taken from us because of such conflicts are among the most vulnerable of us. This has plagued human history a long time but the advent of social media and iPhones means that we can see it up close and unfiltered – more than likely the pictures we are familiar with of past conflicts are only what made it through the dark room and to publication.

The scenes of carnage from Israel and Palestine are certainly jarring and the larger world with its violence cannot seem any better. However, there may be reason for some optimism. Amongst the various reports of carnage in Palestine has come scenes of religious cooperation. Check out this story from the Telegraph out of Britain, in which “hundreds of Palestinians seek refuge in schools and churches run by Christians as they flee their homes from Israeli bombardment.”

That story was apparently removed from the Telegraph website, not surprising as people’s emotions are so intense that they can go in about 900 different directions. Nevertheless, if what is reported is accurate, it does provide some room for optimism.

Europe suffered the worst wars this world has seen for centuries. World War I and World War II took millions of lives, senselessly and purposelessly and led in to the creation of the State of Israel itself. Even despite a Cold War and various acts of conflict and genocide in Eastern Europe, European countries stayed absent of large scale conflict. France and Germany were noticeably absent from America’s war on terrorism. There have been some writers who have said that they think Russian aggression will change that but it's very hard to see a situation where Europe would really relinquish its non-interventionism. Likewise, Japan has stayed absent of any military conflict since WWII. They were compelled to do so, yes, but the end result was the Japanese actually dominating the world through trade and culture, obtaining the influence Imperial Japan aimed for without a single shot fired.

What changed? What made these countries so committed to pacifism? Well, seeing what war really looks like up close, at its absolute worst and extreme, and personal may have done it. War destroys everything that life provides – infrastructure, buildings, food and life itself, even the youngest life. I hope that if anyone takes anything from all of this, it is that. It is possible to end the warrior way of life and many countries throughout the world do it – it is only a handful that are immersed in never-ending conflict. Not even the entire Middle East is immersed in conflicts - countries like Morocco, Algeria (once the sight of a brutal conflict) and much of the Arabian peninsula stay out of our headlines. Let’s hope that handful joins the rest.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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