This I Believe

Craig - Princeton, New Jersey
Entered on May 22, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: war

Y2K never lived up to its hype. On New Years Eve of Y2K, I sat anxiously at home with several friends and waited for the ball to drop with a brand-new flashlight in one hand and a book (to read with the flashlight while the power plants were being reconfigured) in the other. It seemed like two thousand years led up to the imminent destruction that Y2K promised. I was sorely disappointed when the lights didn’t even flicker as Dick Clark coolly wished the world a happy new year.

That was six years ago. But two thousand years ago from today, Caesar Augustus made the ancient Hebrew Kingdoms of Judah and Israel into a Roman province. The native Israelites were persecuted and, within another one hundred and thirty years, expelled after two unsuccessful large revolts. The exile enabled the ancient Israelites to adapt in religious, cultural, and social ways. Yet, they never forgot their homeland. After nearly two thousand years of praying in exile, they returned from the four corners of the world to present-day Israel.

When the surrounding Arab countries waged an unsuccessful war on the Jewish settlers in Israel in 1948, the local Arabs were displaced. Despite recent autonomy in the Gaza Strip, the refugees remain destitute and live in Displaced Persons camps–that together make the Strip the most densely populated area in the world.

That war of 1948 is not over, and experts even say that there are no moral means to an end. People no longer look over their shoulders for pickpockets, but for incoming bombs, mortars, and missiles. People cannot fully enjoy life at local corner café’s and schwarma stands out of fear for their lives. Teenagers quickly become fearless warriors in uniforms of either C4 or olive green. They bravely stand at attention with brand-new bullets in one pocket and some form of the Bible (to represent what they stand for) in another.

As I sat at the Israeli-Lebanese border only a few short months ago in Kibbutz Misgav Ha’Am, I could not help but cry. On both sides, representative flags wave high within two hundred feet of each other: Israel’s blue Star of David and Hezbollah’s solid green. Guns point at each other, and guardhouses have uniformed young men my age with high powered binoculars in order to make sure the other is still only watching.

Is this what two thousand years led up for these people: apparent imminent destruction? Children, teenagers, cousins, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers are being killed every day. I believe that enough is enough; that there have been enough tears and blood shed to last until the end of time. I believe that it is my responsibility to take action and ensure that my generation sees an end to the devastation that defines the Middle East. I believe that I cannot sit around and wait another two thousand years for peace; but that I can, and will, make a difference. I believe that I have the chance now to plant seeds of hope for the future, not bullets and shrapnel.