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Why indeed?

Monday, 12 January 2009

Writing from a 10,000 mile distance, I can’t fully comprehend the mindset of those who are living under the constant threat of terrorism. The following essay, written by the 17-year-old grandson of one of my colleagues, gives voice to his reality. It’s simplicity is both powerful and profound.

He explained his goal as follows:

My idea is to tell everyone what we feel in Israel without
any mention of politics, but as a human beings. Like if you watched the movie “A Time to Kill.” In the lawyer’s closing speech, he tells about the
brutality of what happened to the little black girl and he said something I will always remember “And now think that it was not a black girl, but your girl.” I think that sums up the way that I want to try going about with what I want to do. To show them what goes on here as people who get rockets launched at them and to not involve the politics of the struggle for Israel.

Here is Meir’s piece:

Growing up, I have learned that asking questions is a natural thing.
Little kids, as they grow older and acquire a deeper understanding of their surroundings, ask questions. Why is the sky blue? Why do bees collect pollen? How does the grass grow? This is a natural phase as people mature.

Even older people ask questions. Their questions are on a higher level, but the purpose is the same. These questions are also meant to try to get an understanding of something. What is our purpose in life? Why did my friend have to die from cancer when he was sixteen?

I live in Israel, and I am a counselor in our youth group called Bnei Akiva. The group that I counsel is in 6th grade. We try to do social
action projects in the community. One day, we went around collecting candy, books, toys and other things to put in gift packages for the children in Sderot who have to stay in bomb shelters instead of going to school because they get rockets shot at them daily from Gaza. The kids in my youth group also ask questions. “How can it be that they are in 6th grade and don’t go to school when we are in 6^th grade and do go to
school?” “Why is it that nobody does anything to help them?” “Is there anything we can do to help them?” “If we go to sit in the bomb shelters with them and play cards, will it help?” How am I, as their counselor, supposed to answer such questions?

I too have questions. In my school, there are approximately 15 kids to a
class. The school has been around for ten years, so that makes approximately 150 students who have been graduated from the school. On
our walls, two plaques commemorate dead students. One is for a student who got killed coming to school on a public bus that blew up due to a terrorist, and one is for a student who fell in Lebanon, fighting terrorism. That makes a ratio of 1:75 dead students due to terrorism. Why in my school? Does that mean that I am not supposed to take public transportation? How should I feel walking past these two plaques on a daily basis?

I am 17. I will probably start serving in the army in two years time. Some of my friends are already serving, and most of my friends have brothers in the army. That too raises questions that need answering.
What do I tell one of my friends when his brother is called in the middle of Saturday to go fight? What happens when one of my friend’s brothers doesn’t return? How am I supposed to feel knowing that I am
going to be called up to the army soon? How will I react when faced with the actual fight against terrorism and terrorists?

My questions do not all originate from my immediate surroundings (my friends, my little brothers and me), but there are constant questions a lot more grave than the ones I have been asking. Why is it that the city of Sderot can get shot at with rockets for eight years and the world
will say nothing? Why is it that kids in Sderot cannot study in school like normal kids? Why is it that playgrounds in Sderot are built with concrete so that they function as bomb shelters too? How am I supposed to feel when daily there are people crying on the news, talking about dead sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers—all dead because of terrorism? Why is it that I feel worthless, unable to do

Yes, asking questions is a natural thing in the growth of a human being, but, in my opinion, I shouldn’t have to ask these questions. My younger brother, friends and the 6th graders I counsel shouldn’t have to ask these questions. We should be asking the natural questions. Why is the sky blue? How does the grass grow?

–Meir Armon, age 17, Israel

5 Comments leave one →
  1. jewwishes permalink
    Monday, 12 January 2009 2:27 pm

    He speaks from the soul, doesn’t he?

    Why, indeed, why, indeed…

  2. Tuesday, 13 January 2009 10:42 am

    Wow. Just, wow.

    Our kids say it better than we ever could.

    (I am wondering if this was written by my friend’s son… Just emailed her now…)

  3. Thursday, 15 January 2009 6:23 am

    Just found out that the author is, indeed, my friend’s son.


  4. avital malet permalink
    Saturday, 17 January 2009 1:38 pm

    Meir, great job! its really good! 🙂

  5. Monday, 19 January 2009 10:22 pm

    This guy will be a very powerful writer. He has what to say, and says it beautifully, and from the heart. May you live to be a really old guy, Meir, with many stories to tell. May you touch many minds and hearts with your words.

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