There’s been quite a lot of furor arising over the recent federal court decision to strike down the National Day of Prayer as unconstitutional. I’ll leave the AU to explain why it’s the only fair decision. I want to address the core issue here today.
One of the biggest areas of misunderstanding between believers and non-believers is the issue of the Separation of Church and State. Believers often think that it’s atheists trying to outlaw the practice of their faith. Non-theists feel put upon by the incessant references to faith strewn liberally throughout society, and even within some of our laws.
What many don’t seem to understand is that it’s actually not about religion at all. It’s a civil rights issue. The Black Civil Rights movement under Dr. Martin Luther King was not about getting African Americans special priviledges – it was about providing equal rights for all Americans, no matter their color.
Serendipity, by its very nature, is surprising. Sitting at my computer a couple of hours ago, I was having an afternoon ‘slump’ and accidentally clicked on a Facebook friend suggestion instead of the link I intended to select … and immediately switched into true ‘surf-mode’. I decided to look around, since I was already there on Steve Bremner’s FB page. Looks interesting, seems like a nice person; we share a lot of FB friends. I love looking at photos, so I clicked on some of his, most were images of a fit and athletic man hiking, outside, happy shots.
Then one image really grabbed my attention – a black and white memorial shot of a pretty young girl with the dates 1979-2003 under her smiling face. I looked down and someone had posted information and links about her in the comments area under the photo.
Okay, her name is Rachel Corrie, she’s dead at such a young age – killed it says … so I wonder…
The question – who was this Rachel Corrie and what happened to her?
The answer - Rachel Corrie was a truly special young woman who, from the time she was a child, showed an extraordinary sense of unity with all humankind.
The first of the three links went to a website called Rachel’s Words.The first thing you discover is that clearly, even as a child, Rachel was a gifted writer. She conveyed her emotions beautifully, and her emotions were all tied up in those human conditions that we all care about, we all don’t like – and most of us don’t do much more than donate a few dollars here and there to help remedy.
Rachel, though. . . Rachel put her life on the line for those causes which spoke to her.
The first thing I saw that Rachel wrote was this:
I’m here for other children.
I’m here because I care.
I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.
I’m here because those people are mostly children.
We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them.
We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.
We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.
My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.
My dream is to give the poor a chance.
My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.
My dream can and will come true if we all look into the future and see the light that shines there.
If we ignore hunger, that light will go out.
If we all help and work together, it will grow and burn free with the potential of tomorrow.
– Rachel Corrie, aged ten, recorded at her school’s Fifth Grade Press Conference on World Hunger
She wrote that at ten, and she never stopped caring and believing change CAN happen if we work for it, right up to the day, right to the moment, she died.
There are emails she wrote, sent home from Palestine, on Rachel’s Words’ website. She wrote passionately, from her heart, and makes you feel as if you were there with her. . . she manages to lovingly reassure her parents that she’s safe while sharing her hopes and fears. Actors Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner edited and assembled Rachel’s words into a powerful one-woman show which debuted in England – is still running in Great Britain, and was scheduled to open in the states when it got ‘postponed’.
Why? Because it is politically incorrect and inflammatory to blame Israelis in this country.
Rachel died trying to stop a Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer from the ILLEGAL Israeli demolition of the home of a Palestinian doctor. There she was, standing in front of the house, wearing a bright red jacket and calling out to the driver with the megaphone in her hands; but the bulldozer continued towards her, methodically pushed her back, until it ran over her, crushed her and left her to die.
This was WRONG, so brutally, horribly wrong. That doesn’t mean ALL Israeli’s are ‘bad’, nor, when we hear about Palestinian acts that are ‘wrong’, does it mean all Palestinians are ‘bad’. But it sure doesn’t mean anyone who’s killing their ‘enemy’ is good, either. Real peace will never come if all sides are not held accountable for their actions – but that’s for another story, another day.
The second of the three websites I visited was the full story of her murder. Found here are images as well, of the thin young girl standing on top of piles of dirt, in front of a chain link fence, calling out for peace and understanding, for the driver to let the building stand, for the driver NOT to harm her. Witnesses are certain that he could see her. Yet, the ugliness and hatred of this horrible religious/territorial war overpowered his sanity, and he killed her. Slowly, cruelly, intentionally. He didn’t back off until she disappeared beneath the bulldozer and its blade which he did not raise – instead he allowed it to crush her mercilessly.
Rachel Corrie didn’t die instantly… Rachel Corrie finally died only after being taken to a nearby hospital.
The third site I visited, The US Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian territory, revisits Rachel’s story, and talks about the work to end this horrible conflict. There are links to many things that you can do to help. In Rachel’s memory, I hope you will try. Rachel died on March 16, 2003, just two weeks ago marked the seventh anniversary of her murder.
Footage from Rachel’s interview conducted by Middle East Broadcasting Company on March 14th, 2003, two days before she was murdered by the Israeli Defense Forces.
On this, the seventh anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death in Rafah, Palestine, the Corrie family and the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice call for a renewed commitment to create a better, more peaceful, and just world.
This leaves me with such a heavy heart. Too heavy. Too sad. Too heartbreaking. I hope that Rachel’s brutal and untimely death somehow helps to bring about the peace she worked so very hard to help establish.
Thank you, Rachel Corrie, for being such an inspiration to us all.