Friday, September 3, 2010

clearing the forest with glasses on

Follow me on a flight of fancy and see if you don't think it has a connection to reality.

You and I have eyes that work the same way. But do we see things the same?

I like to think of the way a mind views the world as equivalent to what happens when putting on a pair of glasses.

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "looking through rose-colored glasses" as a way to indicate the way someone looks at things differently. That's right on the mark! The way glasses affect what is seen comes from their design. Each of us, as we grow up, unconsciously puts on a pair of figurative glasses, most often with a prescription, a design, that provides a view that's quite similar to that of our parents.

Everybody wears such glasses and past generations did too.

The colonies that would become the United States were founded by folks wearing European Christian glasses. Wearing them, they were certain that the words of the Bible were a basis for moral behavior. Didn't the Bible say that the earth was given to Man to do with as he wished?

So they acted accordingly, chopping down forests, damming streams, plowing fields. In doing so, they also cleared the land of wildlife and those who had been living there, the Indians. With their glasses firmly on, they saw the wildlife as no problem - trees were just things in the way and animals were mere brutes. The Indians (Native-Americans) were a bit more tricky to deal with but, being viewed as savages, they were with some difficulty put out of the way. Soon after, glasses with an updated lens prescription started to be worn. They gave a crystal clear view of Manifest Destiny for lands to the west.

Now step forward almost to 1900 and consider people that wore Jewish glasses. These glasses had a very long-standing prescription for their lenses that give a vision of a promised land, Zion, of Jerusalem that, just as the earth was promised to those wearing European Christian glasses, was promised specifically to those wearing Jewish glasses. A new, Zionist lens prescription came out that gave a view of making Biblical promises into fact. People could decide to stick with the old Jewish lenses or put on the new Zionist lenses.

Another pilgrimage to a different land began and, as in the American case, land was cleared, streams were dammed, land was planted and plowed. With Zionist glasses, it was all very good. Again, as with the Indians, the Arabs were a bit tricky to handle but, at the end of 1948, were put out of the way.

In the 20th century, quite a few of those wearing the Jewish or Zionist glasses were in the United States. They passed these glasses around, allowing many Americans who didn't have a pair of their own to get a good look through them anyway. Even President Harry Truman was given a pair and he liked what he saw through them.

But few in America had a pair of Arab glasses to lend to others. That view remained invisible in the United States, and largely remains so. In fact, Americans who dare to try on Arab glasses can be called names.

But you and I are alone here. So now, I'm going to offer you, a fellow American, a pair of Palestinian glasses (a special kind of Arab glasses) to put on.

Before you do, I want you to think of Yassir Arafat. What springs to mind? Ugh! He was a terrible man, devious, a liar, a terrorist, someone who should have been targeted for death, right?

WAIT! Calm down for a second. Have you recently worn Zionist glasses? It's amazing how many copies have been made in America. Somebody lent you a pair? No problem. OK, here is the Palestinian pair.

Hey, you don't look half bad wearing them. Now you are ready to watch a video I have for you. In this video, Yassir Arafat will appear differently than in how you've thought of him before. Not only that, you will hear some Palestinian popular music sung by a man who is very popular in Gaza and the West Bank. It's quite emotional, interesting to hear and I'll bet, like me, like 99% of Americans, you've never heard the like of it.

Now watch this video created by some young Palestinian women, a single chapter of about 25 minutes from a series called Sleepless in Gaza and Jerusalem. Get ready to see things differently. If you have a pair of headphones, use them as the audio may be a bit challenging if you use your PC speakers.

Oh, and I won't be back after the video. You can keep the glasses.

view the video

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