The War Song

There’s a horrific song that has been playing in the hearts of all humanity since the dawn of time. Sometimes it’s all one can hear, and it drowns out even the loudest of voices. Other times it’s barely audible; yet if one were to listen close it can be heard, even if it’s only in the heart of the listener. This song I’m referring to is what I’d like to call the War Song, which has been on the lips of nations and peoples from the very beginning of civilization.

It’s a frightening melody, this song that never seems to have an end. The words seem to change from day to day, and yet it still seems to strike the same frightening chords, instilling fear in everyone forced to listen to its message of hate and intolerance. Those of us who are lucky enough to live far enough away from the source of this awful sound can become numb to the terror others are facing in the midst of the noise and horror war brings. When this happens, we rarely think about the tribulations of others, unless it’s in the most abstract of ways.

The latest verse of this war song now seems to be orchestrated from the Middle Eastern stage, with Israel and Palestine as the main players. While I’m in no way an authority on the political and/or cultural tensions of the area, I’ll give you a brief overview of this new development, as I understand it. Three Israeli teenage boys were kidnapped and murdered at the hands of Hamas militants. One of the teenage boys had managed to try to call for help during the kidnapping, but at the time it was considered a practical joke until the boys never came home. After a search by the authorities, the boy’s bodies were discovered in a field on June 30th.

After discovering the bodies, the Israeli Prime Minister vowed to deliver swift action against Hamas, and demolished the homes of the men responsible. Hamas retaliated, Israel fought back, and thus started this back-and-forth fighting we see today.

I’m sure we can all agree that war is terrible for both sides involved. No one comes out of it unscathed, regardless of who claims victory at the end. While it’s surely terrible for those fighting in this war, the horror of those who are caught in the middle through no fault of their own must be unspeakable. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about an innocent little child who, not understanding what’s going on around them, suddenly finds himself or herself without a mother or father due to the fighting. It’s also heart wrenching to imagine the little old lady left homeless with no family due to a bomb killing her loved ones and destroying her home, leaving her nowhere to turn. The stories we could tell of despair, sadness, heartache and suffering from both sides of any conflict would be too numerous to begin tell.

In all of the sadness and tragedy war brings on those living in that kind of torment, there is also a silver lining, even in the midst of such dark times. Somehow, even during what seems to be a living hell on earth, we hear stories of love and compassion that give us a glimmer of hope that maybe we can conquer hate and war. Michele, a friend of mine, shared a story yesterday to come from this part of a war-torn world that filled my heart with hope that all is not lost. She received an email from a friend living in Israel telling her that while he was on his way to work, the sirens went off warning them of an attack. Looking for somewhere to hide safely, he ducked under a house for shelter. The family living in that house saw him and invited him inside, and took him down to their safe room with them where they stayed until the alarms stopped. Afterwards, he left and went to work. It’s this kind of story that fills my heart with hope, even when things seem their darkest. Here we see complete strangers, possibly not knowing which side of the conflict the other is sympathetic to, helping each other and valuing the life of someone they’ve never met, regardless of who they were. This act of helping our neighbors, doing good for the stranger in our midst, even in the middle of life-threatening danger is the type of evidence we need to hear about to help us realize that there is still good in people’s hearts. As Michele said, “This is an example of humanity at its finest!”

Even in the horrible noise of this war song that’s being played over and over, it’s the undercurrents of a melody underneath the noise like the story Michele shared that gives me hope that one day, a new song of peace and love could emerge which would drown out the drones of war. I hope and pray for a new song of peace that would have such an infectious tune that even the hardest of hearts would begin to hum along with it and let go of the old ways of war and begin to gain a new understanding and appreciation for the differences and similarities of their neighbors they have fought for so long.

Will this new song emerge in my lifetime? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that if each of us would join in singing a song of love and understanding and apply the message of that song to our daily lives, we could help it spread. Who knows… if we keep it going and teach it to others, we could all play a part of learning a song of peace and helping it spread throughout the world and drowning out the war song once and for all.

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