I have been realizing over the past couple of years, the importance of honouring my ancestors. After childhood, I felt quite disconnected from my family history, for the most part, especially on my father’s side.
But in getting back in touch with this history, I have felt very deeply the suffering of my grandparents in WW2, under the Nazis in occupied Holland. It is…horrific, what they went through, what they endured, and had they not had the strength to do so, my father would not have been born, and I and my kids therefore, would not have been born.
I think of all the wonderful experiences I have had in life. The love, laughter, beauty. From witnessing another autumn of changing leaves, to another winter of sparkling snow, to another spring of vibrant flowers and singing birds, to another summer of swimming, hiking, and camping. From the joys and hard work and endless laughter of raising children, to the many years I have enjoyed, of singing along to favourite songs, watching favourite movies, eating wonderful food, reading wonderful books. From games to fishing trips to car trips to concerts. From getting high and dancing all night, to meditating and discovering the depths of my own soul. From the love of friends to the love of the family to the deep wonder of romance. None of it would have happened, had my grandparents not been strong enough to withstand torture, incarceration, starvation, and everything else they endured to make it through those years of Hell.
I look back at the events of my own childhood, which I may write about someday in more detail, with a greater understanding now, of the inter-generational effects of war. For not only does war harm the generation that goes through it, but their unhealed-trauma affects the way their children grow up (i.e., my father). Which then affects the way the next generation (i.e., myself and sisters), grow up. Etc. This cycle continues until people break it, through wisdom, the help of others, and doing the effortful, difficult work of healing themselves.
For Hallowe’en this year, I decided to start a new tradition, in the spirit of Dia de los Muertos, a personal ritual of honouring my ancestors at midnight tonight, and welcoming them back into my life. I am humbled at their sacrifice and strength, and I am proud to have done my part in breaking the cycles of trauma, violence, and more trauma that result from such horrific experiences as war.
One way of doing so, is to start educating my children on the inter-generational history of the conflicts occurring today, most notably at the current moment (you have to start somewhere…), Palestine and the apartheid and now-genocide conditions imposed upon the Palestinian people since Al Nakba in 1948, 3/4 of a century ago, right after the end of WW2, as my grandparents were struggling through their own poverty, and trying to make life for themselves and their two young children, one of whom was my father.
The history of Palestine is a very long history; it’s a deep rabbit-hole. And to understand how Al Nakba occurred, you have to go back a bit further, to the end of the 19th century. Doing so takes a bit of time. But it teaches you much more of the truth and provides the historical context for understanding this ongoing atrocity that has escalated so horribly this past month, but has been going on since before you and I were born.
If you rely on the current news cycle for this understanding, you won’t get it, because it is, frankly, mostly bullshit. What we hear on the news is, as Noam Chomsky so eloquently and brilliantly exposed many years ago, the “Manufacturing of Consent” for state terrorism.
Canada abstained from the UN General Assembly Vote for a ceasefire this week, refusing to take a side. In doing so, we not only, as a nation, wimped out like a bunch of spineless cowards, but we let down the entire world by refusing to side with the vast majority of countries and stand up to the United Staes, Israel, and the small handful of other countries largely bullied into acquiescence by the United States. We let down our own consciences. We betrayed our own empathy, our own yearly celebration of Remembrance Day, and our own personal feelings about genocide and “Never Again.” This was a sad, sad week for my country, and yet, most Canadians I suspect, don’t realize just how deeply we betrayed our own values and sullied our international reputation, to most of the world at least.
For my kids to understand why our country is continuing its own history of colonial genocide, now through supporting the genocidal continuation of the American imperialist project, we are starting to learn the history of Palestine, and Israel, one documentary at a time. I will post them, every few days, for those who may be interested in digging a little deeper than what most of us have been taught in school (which for me, was literally nothing at all), or through the media (which for all of us, is a propagandistic story that justifies American-Israeli apartheid and literally lies to us about the historical context.)
I plan to use the best sources I can find, by actual historians, so as to minimize the potential for bias, although of course there’s always bias in every narrative. But by relying on scholarly material that is well-sourced and fact-checked, this is the best I can do.
Here’s the first. This one starts in the 1800s, and outlines the early politics behind Britain’s betrayal of the Arab peoples as Britain made promises for an equitable solution for all sides in the beginning, and then promptly broke it, leading ultimately, to the massacres of the past few weeks.
I live in Ontario. I have tried to imagine what Ontarians would feel like if more than 3000 of our children were suddenly murdered, along with about twice as many adults, our cities demolished, our hospitals and electrical and water infrastructure bombed and destroyed, our food supplies cut off, and more than a million of us were ordered to evacuate our homes, within 24-hours, and travel, on foot for the most part, over ruined roads, to “somewhere else”. And then, starving, carrying what we could, having left behind everything including in all likelihood many of our sick and elderly, we were still bombed, even as we followed orders and sought safety where we were told safety could be found.
I have wondered what it would feel like to be the only member of your family who wasn’t exterminated overnight by faceless enemies dropping bombs from the sky.
I have wondered what it would feel like if every single one of us knew the deep pain of loss as at least soe of our own childhood friends, and their children, were exterminated like they were less-than-human, and the rest of us left to starve, suffer, and be homeless with no hope for reprieve or anything resembling what one would imagine for their future.
This is the situation in Palestine right now. And to understand this, why not, at the very, very least, choose to spend even a small fraction of your ‘entertainment’ time which you find so easily to watch your favourite shows, sports events, and such, and in honour of your own ancestors, watch some informative documentaries, before we simply continue, through apathy, to allow our government to sit back on its hands and do nothing in the face of state terrorism?
We all know that for ‘evil’ to triumph, all it takes is that good people choose to do nothing in the face of it. So, don’t be that person. Educate yourself. Educate your children. Use the best sources you can find, and, as they say and I certainly hope, “the truth shall set us free.”
This first documentary is a mere 25 minutes. I am sure most of us spend that much time every day just scrolling through social media. And we do so, while ignoring the bombs that are being dropped on 2 million people who grew up in a state-imposed prison camp. We can do better than this.
Much love, all.