My family has roots in Scotland. Two generations back we are Campbells, a family notorious as the "bad boys" of highland history. Sorry to any McDonalds out there, I wasn't part of the Campbell clan when they tried to kill you all. . . I would have been against it. Promise. Anyway, other than a bit of guilt every time I pass a Mc' D's, and a brief knowledge of Scottish history, there isn't much Scottish about me now. I don't own a bagpipe, like whisky, or know how to river dance. (Sorry for the pejorative categorization of Scottish culture. . .be patient, I'm writing here.)
Today, at an Eastern Orthodox Easter Services, I felt a pull toward my Scottish Heritage, from a most unlikely source. Palestinian Youth.
In the U.S. we have an image of Palestine that goes something like this: Palestinians = Terrorists. Watching the news, you can bet money that if you hear the word "Palestinian" it will be appended with negative adjective (take your pick terrorist, extremist, jihadist. . . you get the picture) Its odd, however, that we accept this monolithic image - usually the image of a man in a kofia scarf with a rock in his hand - and don't question it further. We don't ask about his job, or his kids, or his partner. We don't know that he likes sushi, or that his daughter is a top student at the university, that his mother is sick in the hospital, his favorite cartoon is tom and jerry, or that he reads poetry every night before he goes to sleep. Nope. . . we don't ask questions. We don't ask why he has a stone in his hand. We don't ask how many thousands there are like him with no stones at all.
Mostly, we passively accept the narrative presented to us in the 24 hour news cycle. Plain and simple.
It wasn't until about 11 years ago that I began to ask questions. It began when a friend returned from the middle east with a beautiful photo of a little Palestinian girl licking an ice-cream cone. Not a terrorist, not a jihadist, not someone who wants to wipe Israel off the map. Just a girl, licking an ice-cream cone. Years later, I'm living in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour, and every day there are like 1000 ice-cream cone girl moments. Example: Yesterday I spent the day listening hundreds of Palestinians play the bagpipes. Seriously. . .did you see this coming. . . the bagpipes!?! - Be honest, I'm betting the first image you think of when you hear the word "Palestinian" is not a group of bagpipers. Am I right!?! I'll also hazard a guess that first words that come to mind are neither 1) vegetarian 2) artist 3)banker 4)poet 5) scout 6) christian 7) stamp collector 8) or feminist . . .
Hmmmm. . . . If you are anything like me, you probably wondering why that is? Why is our thinking so limited?
This latest video is full of images of a world that is much more wild, beautiful, and complex than our tag-line culture can present for our consumption. It's a reminder that the real world is not made up of faceless villains and flawless heroes. Indeed, everywhere there are children eating ice-cream cones, students preparing for exams, and romantics composing sonnets on coffee shop napkins. In the real world whole people groups do not lend themselves so easily to generalizations. . . something unique, strong and beautiful always finds it's way in. In the real world there are bagpipe playing, easter egg dying, Palestinians.