Olives for Hope

If the world is ever going to come to peace,
humanity can no longer be recognized 
on a case by case basis.


Keep the crazy in your back pocket!

Posted on August 12, 2011 at 8:00 PM

"We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side." — Khalil Gibran


This week, I am participating in the first required residency for the Masters in Mental Health Counseling through Walden University. This is actually my first quarter in the program and, once again, other people are telling me that I am brave. This kind of courage though comes easy; but if it comes easy, then is it courage at all?


The first advice my section advisor / professor gave our group was “keep the crazy in your back pocket”. She was stressing to us that at all times we are being evaluated by the entire staff (people were sent home after day one), and that although we all have “stuff” and, even if we are ‘Right’, this wasn’t the place to let it out. This week, however, I have seen plenty of crazy slipping out (the mental health field is referred to as the profession of the wounded…)


It has been tough – long and challenging days, plus lots of heat and humidity (we are in Orlando, Florida). All in all though, I have found a new confidence in the program itself, in my choice to be in the program and in my own skills! I have challenged myself to take risks, and I have been able to think more about what I really want to do and where I want to be at the end of the program. That is where the real courage will be needed…..


It is also challenging to not know what is going on in the world around me because we exist in an academic cocoon. Prior to leaving for Florida I saw that the protests across Israel were growing in number and intensity. I also heard a report that Netenyahu approved more settlement units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank to address the housing crisis that instigated the protests.


I did read that there was unease and controversy about the fact the protests did not include a call for an end to the occupation (certainly they could at least acknowledge the money spent on the settlement project could be better used in Israel proper). I share those concerns. I do not understand how there can be a struggle for social justice when it does not include the Palestinians - not even the 20% of Israel’s population that are Palestinian citizens of Israel. (At the same time there has been a move in the Knesset to remove Arabic as an official language in Israel.) Palestinians and everyone struggling for equal human rights for all in the ‘Land of Canaan’ feels the frustration.


These are tough times for all involved in the struggle. But they are also hopeful times. Weekly protests against the Wall in villages like Bil'in and Al-Walaja continue and following the return of 200 acres to the village of Bil'in last June, the Palestinian Hydrology Group plans to alleviate the poverty of 20 of Bil'in's poorest farmers by constructing water cisterns on the returned land and providing seed, fertilizer and seedlings.


The movement is maturing and finding its voice. It is being heard and accepted in more places. Even in the United States I hear more questioning of the current and ongoing policy toward Israel and Palestine. Along with hope however, is also concern. What will happen in September? Will the Palestinian Authority move forward with a call in the United Nations for Palestine to be accepted as a member state? What will happen in Israel and Palestine after?


Last week I wrote about the things I wanted to do and places I wanted to revisit when I return to Bethlehem in September. I referred to them as “fun”, meaning only that these were things that would happen outside of the official “job” I was there to do. I would add to that list my hope to see a new beginning for Israel and Palestine, but I have to wonder, will everyone remember to “keep the crazy in their back pocket”?


Categories: Random Thoughts, POV