israel pt 1

israel is unbelievable.  we were lucky enough to spend nine days there - we got back a few nights ago.  the sliver of a country is a democratic anomaly squished smack dab in the middle east.  walking the streets of tel aviv, our guide pointed out a rainbow flag waving from a balcony.  not something you'd see in Syria, Jordan, or any other neighboring country...

we explored tel aviv, wandering the narrow cobbled streets of the old city (Jerusalem), ate pomegranates on pomegranates on pomegranates, learned about the Syrian civil war (while in the Golan heights, literally looking out at Syria), ate at least a dozen types of hummus, had the privilege of visiting a navy base, learned about how the Israelis grow food in the desert, etc.  

truth: i'm fucking tired and it's been an exhausting past few days since we've been back.  i'd like to write about what's been going on, but i'm not quite ready at this time.  i don't have a lot to give in this moment, and i'm feeling the heavy feelings.

so for now, i just want to share that there is so much to drink in in our world.  so many ways to live.  a whole spectrum of differences - cultural, economic, societal... a spectrum that can be exciting or scary. in this moment, i guess i am feeling the weight of the conflict in our world.  and thinking about how most conflict stems from misunderstandings or inaccurate assumptions.  

travel never ceases to peel back my layers and expand my perspective.  i don't feel threatened by the ways other live, and that in and of itself is a privilege.  in the Golan heights, we learned about how small villages in Syria can be split two, three, four ways.  between the militia and rebel groups, yes, but also between rebel groups and other rebel groups.  families torn apart through almost arbitrary divisions by groups (rebel, military, government) that are angry, oppressed, and scared.  and all fighting for power.

i don't have an eloquent ending or a way to make this beautiful because sometimes life is painful and wrongs can't be made right. i just know that we are ONE world.  we are one species, and we currently inhabit this earth together.  so i guess what i can do, which really doesn't feel like much in this moment, is ask more questions when differences make me feel angry.  if something rubs me the wrong way, use that emotion to open up and not close down.  inquire and not assume.

more to come on Israel.  proud to be connected to the spirit of the country and the spirit of the people.

Hannah Smith