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I dream …. | Mazin Qumsiyeh

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This post first appeared on the website of Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor and Director, Palestine Museum of Natural History, Bethlehem University. http://palestinenature.org, http://qumsiyeh.org, http://popular-resistance.com.

I dream someday that our living nightmare will end. Images like a sister crying over the body of her 14-year-old brother Hasan Shalabi who was shot in the heart simply for wanting to have a life. The video of the same kid so full of life saying he dreams of getting a job to help his family of nine in Gaza haunt me. He is just a kid and I cannot imagine the pain of his family. I imagine someday I will not hear about destruction of the Amazon rain forest or bleaching of coral reefs or another “trophy hunt” or of a girl murdered (like Palestinian Swar murdered by cruel men for “honor” or the 5-year-old raped and murdered in India). I dream of India going back to its anti-colonial days instead of buying billions in weapons it does not need from Israel (a colonial state). I dream of days like when my grandfather’s friend in school was a Jewish student (i.e. I dream of the end of apartheid and all of us living together in one country in friendship as before).

I dream of days when the world takes serious action to stop the ongoing global environmental nakba (catastrophe) and stop marching towards a nuclear holocaust. I dream of days when no child goes hungry (now 1/5th of world children do) or days when the world stood up against rathewr than cajored dictators like those ruling in Arabia. I dream of a future where Western governments do not topple democratically elected governments in natural resource-rich areas to install puppets of neo-colonialism (Mousaddaq in Iran in 1950s, Chile in Sept 11, 1973, Venezuela this year). I dream of many things. But I am also realistic and thus work hard to change what I can: give me the courage to change the things I can, patience for those I can’t, and wisdom to know the difference.

I teach a course in biodiversity at Birzeit University for master students in environmental biology. I teach others (formal and informal) of all ages in logical thinking, in research methodologies, in human rights etc. I try to convince myself that if these young students (some in high school or younger) can and do respect themselves, respect others, and respect nature, then there is hope for humanity. The young people always give me hope. I had a dream last night where there are a gathering of white-haired Palestinian politicians (Mahmoud Abbas, Azzam Al-Ahmad, etc.) with similar other politicians (Modi, Netanyahu, Trump, etc.) but I was most worried about two young children among them both with white hair who looked like miniature of these politicians (copies, clones). I tried to approach them but was shielded from them by the white-haired politicians.

Perhaps this is my biggest fear/nightmare: That some young people are becoming clones of our political leadership and it is getting hard to reach them. Bethlehem University is shut down basically because the student council leaders (who happen to be Fatah members) want to prove themselves ahead of upcoming student elections by opening files of practical training fees applied three years ago. I hope this gets resolved soon and students go back to classes. What encourages me and other volunteers who work even seven days a week is that we do see things that need doing and do them and no matter how modest these achievements are (see 2018 achievements here https://www.palestinenature.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Annual-Report-2018.pdf), we at lease preserve our sanity in this crazy world. But it is a bit more than that, even on social media where I see many posts and opinions without actions, but the posts do precede actions. Knowledge is important, but we must keep pushing for actions.

So much for this Sunday “thinking out loud.” Now back to work: today I am working on a grant proposal for peacemaking, preparing for talks to internationals, working with a couple of brilliant high school students, museum administrative tasks, and answering emails. It is raining heavily – otherwise, I would have taken a hike… Life/struggle goes on.

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