This Not the Time for Despair

It has been a tough week.

With the “re-election” (I say “re-election” because he was never elected in the first place) of George Bush to the White House and the Republican grab of Congress, hope seems to be fading that we ­ the citizens of the world who reject the Bush doctrine and all it stands for ­ will be able to repair the damage and rebuild the world.

Since Wednesday, I (and I suspect many of you) have read countless articles about what will happen to America and the rest of the world during Bush’s second term, been forwarded countless versions of the “new map” of North America, and heard about the American citizens rushing to download applications from the internet for immigration into Canada. The theme throughout has been one of a growing sense of despair and feelings of helplessness. But there have also been expressions of hope and calls for courage and strength.

Allow me to add my voice to this chorus of hope and courage. We have so much to live for that that there is no time for despair.

On behalf of the world, I would like to say to my brave American friends who have struggled so long and so hard against the right-wing regime occupying their government, thank you, and don’t give up. We need you now, more than ever, to keep up your struggle and make your voice heard for all those that have been marginalized or silenced. We must not allow such an arrogant abuse of power claim to have the monopoly on “moral values” while sovereign countries are invaded and ground to dust, women’s rights are blatantly violated, and the environment is treating as a dumping ground for toxic waste. We need look no further then Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” to realize the dangers we face by a government pursuing a “moral agenda”.

Humans are amazing beings. I believe that the spirit of resistance and struggle for justice lives in all of us in some form; it just takes different stimuli to awaken our inner activist. If you look closely, history is full of stories people illustrating hope: the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Surviving the slaughter and genocide in Burma, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Central America. Protesting the overthrow of democratically elected governments in Chile and the Congo. Women demanding the right to vote, the right to have control over their bodies, their right to live in a world that is free from all forms of violence against them. Workers marching for their right to a living wage and safe working conditions.

Palestine struggling to end the occupation and for the right to a free and independent state.

Where does inspiration live if not here? How can we think that hope is lost when the people of Palestine, beaten and battered for the past 56 years, hold their ground and call for justice to be done?

Hope does not come easily here. With Ariel Sharon building the Separation Wall on confiscated land throughout the West Bank, more than 7,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, bombings, assassinations, and home demolitions, most days it is easier to succumb to feelings of powerlessness and despair. But despite this, the hope that kindled is one based quite simply on the refusal to be occupied by a foreign military power. No American-made bombs dropped from Israeli warplanes can crush this hope.

As we continue to find our way, have courage that our struggles are not in vain. Piece by peace we will reconstitute the world. Celebrate the small victories, and do not be discouraged by the large setbacks.

Do not despair. You are not alone. None of us are alone, despite the mainstream media’s attempt to convince us otherwise. All of us who work for justice, peace, freedom, women’s rights, and a protected environment ­ we are the moral majority. These days may have passed into darkness but it does not mean that all is lost. Each one of us is a candle of hope, and if we stand together we will light up the world.

Indeed, we shall live to see these days renewed.

AMELIA PELTZ is a peace activist in Ramallah.


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