Flying Kites for Peace
Over a year ago, as a subscriber of the online version of The Guardian, I noticed something in the May 10th issue which I found to be plainly painful. Look at the photo below and at the comment given and you will be able to make sense of my comments to follow.
I am aware of the (often euphemistically described) "Palestinian problem". I do not have an encyclopaedic knowledge of it, but I believe I do know enough of what there is to know: the Palestinian people were robbed of their own land and their own status as an independent people and country and to date the problem has not been addressed as such, let alone solved.
I have read from several sources over the years as the events unfolded and I hold in great esteem Edward Said, the American-Palestinian professor and intellectual who died in 2003. I have observed the incalculable amount of suffering that has been inflicted on the Palestinian people in the first place, and then the additional suffering caused by various forms of reaction to the situation. Such suffering has been shared, in turns, by both Palestinian and Israeli people in various capacities. Normally, I regard suffering as suffering, and ideally I would want to prevent it all, in all forms. So, even the suffering of an Israeli soldier who is wounded or killed pains me, and in principle I condone no violent action of any sort, not even when it is a reaction or a response to previous violent action. But we all know and have learned that there is a potential for evil and for suffering in the world, and many a situation will test any human being's humaneness and principles due, if nothing else, to its overwhelming complexity which at an advanced stage no longer lets itself be resolved just by one single action or decision.
As I looked at that photograph in the Guardian I was genuinely filled with sorrow. The awareness, and especially the proof, that even kites should become weapons and vehicles of violent action almost as violently shook my admittedly child-like, simpleminded belief that kites are inherently carriers of peace and peaceful activities. Although I have read and learned about certain kites having been used in warfare in the past, I am interested in them as kites and completely disregard, disengage from, and certainly will not support, any notion of warfare connected with them.
Some 30 years ago, as I was attending a One Sky One World gathering in Toronto, Canada, I said to someone who was writing an article for a local paper that "flying kites for peace" was something that I did not especially by attending OSOW gatherings, but each and every time that I unzipped my kite bag, took out a kite and flew it. I still think that way.
There are many extraordinary things that kites do to and for us. They take us out of artificial virtual environments and reconnect us with Nature, they slow time down, they teach our digitally-numbed hands to work again in a more meaningful way, they suggest and teach actual innocence, they foster togetherness and friendship, and through their peculiar aesthetic they restore a sense of beauty and of "art" which, whether you accept or deny it, we particularly need today and badly need in general in order to refine ourselves just to qualify as true human beings. I cannot associate kites with ignorance, brutality, ugliness, violence, injustice, falseness.
I hope more people still feel this way. And in spite of the direst predictions, based on the observation of the direst events on the ground, daily or hourly unfolding before our very eyes, I stubbornly and even irrationally hold out hope that one day kites will be flown again in Palestine in a state of freedom, for pleasure and not for the exercise of violence or as a violent reaction to the exercise of violence.