Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Right to be Happy

There is one more week of classes left and the semester will be over. Because we got a short break between Winter and Spring semester, this seems like one long semester and it is going even slower at the end. I can't wait to be done!! I think my students feel the same way as well.

Last Tuesday we had a holiday. It was Independence day and everyone was gathering with family to celebrate. On Monday evening, I drove to Blackfoot and had dinner with a friend of mine from BYU. I had not seen her in a while so it was nice to spend time with her and with her family. They had a BBQ and the kids played with fireworks.

The sound of explosions make me jump each time. They are different than the sound of gun shots, but they are pretty similar. Something inside me aches every time I hear that sound. I know people are lighting fireworks to celebrate and I am trying really hard to have a good feeling when I hear them go off, but I can't help it. Every time I hear them I remember gun shots, missiles, rifles and pain.

Back home we heard those sounds a lot. Every gunshot meant someone was being shot, another injury or another death, another family suffering. Images of young men with bullet wounds come to my mind. Every time I hear a gunshot, I remember Moayad blood in the taxi I rode and picture him dead with his school bag still on his back.  Then I remember Salam's house.  The shattered glass in their kitchen window showing the place where the bullets fired by the Israeli settler entered their kitchen hitting 14-year old Salam in the head. I remember Isaac at Bethlehem University and the bullet wound in his head. I remember watching him die while hoping the Israeli soldiers would allow us to take him to a hospital.  Too much pain, too much to erase. I hate guns, I hate them because those weapons given to the State of Israel have often made my people suffer.

On Tuesday, July 4th the city of Rexburg does a parade. Feeling alone without family around I decided to go.  I stood and watched the floats throwing candy to the children.  The people on the float would throw the candy the the children would run with smiles on their faces to collect it. I felt how happy the children and everyone was. That feeling of happiness I saw around me was something I had never before felt in any setting. I experienced joy through living the gospel and peace, but that feeling of happiness was a bit strange. 

I have seen children in similar situations in Palestine, children who were celebrating, or playing or laughing...but that feeling was not there. That pure happiness was missing. Then I realized that we have grown up without it. Because many Palestinian children grew up hearing gun shots, and seeing pain and suffering it dimmed the happiness they could feel. I realized that some Palestinian children may not know how to be happy or what happiness feels like.

Believe it or not, I felt uncomfortable at the parade. As I stood there among happy people I felt out of place. I felt that I had no right, as a Palestinian, to be there. I had no right to be happy.  I can't describe that in words really. But, it was so uncomfortable that I simply decided to leave.

How sad it is that there are so many children in the world today who are denied of their right to be happy. They are abused, live in war torn countries, their safe home has been destroyed, or they lack the food necessary to survive.  I would like to believe that we have a Father in Heaven who loves those children and will someday embrace them and make them forget all the pain and suffering they had to see.  

We had a college social at the Rexburg water park. The math department won the pie eating contest. Way to go Craig!

Yesterday we went tubing down the river. This so far has been the second most relaxing thing I have ever done in my life. The first was being alone in a balloon hundreds of feet above ground. I really feel every Palestinian needs to float down the river for therapy from all the trauma and pain they have seen.
I look forward to taking my sisters down the river one day. There is something magical about being in the middle of a river, hearing only the sound of birds and the sound of the water. Feeling the cool water and the fresh air.


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