Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Bad Things Happen to... People. Just People.

Most of the stuff I post is pretty child-friendly, but: the last article is PG. Just so you know.(And the note about the note: already I have feedback that there is nothing too shocking about that article. My personal rating system goes something like this: if I wouldn't want to have to explain something to a kid without at least a little warning ahead of time, I think a thing is PG.)

I'm always so interested in what happens to the regular people who end up being caught in conflict zones. I am well aware that each side will paint the other in black-and-white terms, but that the reality is much more complicated than that. A couple of BBC articles have illustrated this for me recently.

In the first, we learn of a Palestinian man who works to build those illegal Jewish Settlements in the (occupied) West Bank. We know that everyone but a few radical Israelis acknowledge that the settlements are illegal and need to be disbanded before a peace agreement can be reached, right? However, this man has a large family, and he cares more about feeding them than about the broader political implications of his work. What really caught me, though, was what the Israeli construction manager said about using Palestinian labor: "Even if they weren't so cheap, we'd still want to use them because they work so hard."

Here's the article:

There was also an article yesterday about a Palestinian lady who would just like to be allowed to return to her childhood home, please. She doesn't care if Israelis live there; she'd just like to live there, too.

Another article from yesterday was about a woman from Vietnam who had been the subject of an iconic photograph. The woman had been badly injured, as a child, during the Vietnam war. It was interesting to me that she was used by the Vietnamese government to show how horrible the Americans were (it was an American attack that hurt her), but she didn't want the attention, and ran away from it, literally, more than once. She wanted to be a Just Plain Person, rather than the woman who was once the girl who had been in that photograph. Unfortunately for her, the press (from all over) kept tracking her down. In the end, she decided that she could do something else with all that famous-ness. "[She] establish[ed] the Kim Phuc Foundation, which provides medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war."

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