If I Knew Them Each By Name

Dawn - Honolulu, Hawaii
Entered on February 6, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: Christianity, war

I believe that in calling myself Christian, I am called by faith to advocate for the least among us. Growing up in multi-racial, multi-religious Malaysia, I heard my mother express that faith another way: she spoke constantly of the need to give away with the left hand what we receive with the right. I believe she was right when she said to us over and over again, that we are but temporary custodians of the good fortune that comes our way. Even when we believe we have earned it, it is ours only to pass on to those whose need is more urgent. Those whose names we might not know, whose faces we might never have seen. Especially the most vulnerable. The most needy. Like the children of Gaza. Children about whom we know too little and hear from not at all.

I want to know them by name: all 257 officially killed and more than 1000 wounded. From little four-year-old Kaukab to Sayed, Mohammed and Raida Abu Aisheh — ages 12, 8 and 7– killed with their parents as shells rained down on their apartment. I believe a faith that calls me to be pro-life relative to the unborn fetus must surely demand of me a more vigorous defense of so many children, from infants to adolescents, killed in a war of overwhelming retribution.

I believe that I might be moved to do more to speak out against the massacre of innocents if I knew them each by name. If I had to confront the display of photogenic faces that so often accompanies the reporting of tragedies close to home. I believe it would far harder to order the raining down of bombs on Gaza if those who do so and those who watch, had to acknowledge that in so doing, twelve year old Hayya, eight year old Hamdan and five year old Lama would be killed as they were taking out the garbage. As if they were garbage. We might challenge a foreign policy of such ferocity that it robs 36 year old, Ayda of her three children in one fell swoop. We have no yearbook or wedding pictures, no comments from the neighbors, no brave fire fighter stories, no one who can tell us how this particular mother is coping with this unspeakable horror. We, who tie yellow ribbons for soldiers gone to war and hold candlelight vigils for the victims of crazed gunmen run amok in our schools do neither for the children of Gaza. I believe there is no grief more unspeakable than the loss of a child. So for 257 children, I speak.