Ka whawhai tonu ratau

Note: I wrote this last week, before the first ceasefire was announced, then didn’t post it because I woke to news of the ceasefire. But then, the fighting goes on. I thought of the title today. 

I can’t stop thinking about this story. I read it on Monday, and wept, that young woman, not so different in age from myself, never getting to meet her newborn That tiny baby never getting to know her mummy – but, blessedly, still alive. Today I read a follow up, the baby has died. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m crying as I write this. It feels like the very definition of wrong. It’s so wrong.

I should go to bed, I should go to sleep, it’s late, my husband is asleep – annoyed at me for keeping him up just to tell him how upset I am at things happening hundreds of miles away, things that we don’t have to deal with, here in a peaceful country. Annoyed at me for wanting something more from him – what, condemnation? Of course it’s bad. For him to cry as well? It doesn’t work like that. To be one of the internet people who post things on facebook about how bad Israel is? He’s not that person. And yet, I can’t stop dwelling. Feeling like there must be something I can say, but there’s not. There must be something I can do, but there’s not. There must be some glimmer of hope to cling on to, but there’s not. I don’t know. That is the worst bit, the feeling that this could go on for another generation, another two generations, or longer. Babies are dying. Babies just like my baby. Why the hell shouldn’t I cry at that?

If my son had been born in Israel, like his daddy, he’d be a forth generation Israeli. Instead he’s a seventh generation New Zealander. I want him to feel connectedness to this land, a sense of belonging. I want him to appreciate that it is a sacred thing, to be of this land. When he’s a little boy, I want to take him tramping through our national parks, and read him Hone Tuwhare’s poem “Papatuanuku”, and I want him to feel its truth. I want him to stand strong on a marae and give his mihi, he tangata tiriti au, kua tae mai toku tipuna ki Aotearoa i tetahi waka, ko te Emma Colgen, i te tau o 1862. I want him to understand that a bicultural state can foster a multicultural society. 

But if he was born in Israel, my wants would be more modest. All I’d want is for him not to have to go to war when he grows up.