I have had the amazing honor of spending hours with Ryan Bellerose this week, some last week and if I’m blessed, perhaps a bit more in the next week or so. Ryan is a Metis Indian from Canada who champions the rights of indigenous people all of over the world. For many years, he has focused on delivering an important and often ignored message.
Part of the time I was with Ryan, we spent in some pretty heavy “philosophical” questions. Unless you’ve met Ryan personally, you probably can’t begin to see how incredibly smart he is. I’ve heard him speak publicly a few times already and I’m amazed at his thoughts, the intelligent flow of concepts.
One has touched very close to home. Ryan explains. I explain. And he says that maybe I didn’t understand what he meant. But I did. How can I not? He speaks quite eloquently and passionately about Israel. He is a man who can see into a future he doesn’t want to see; a world without Israel.
I have written in the past that I have a recurring nightmare of my family being “out” (could be work, driving, no idea…just not “in”) when suddenly sirens break out…somehow the sun is never shining in my nightmare…it is that fragile time between day and night and it is getting darker.
The sirens are only broken by the sounds of impact, of explosives and the sheer terror of not knowing where everyone is, if they are okay leaves me shaking. I force the images out of my mind, at least until they come back.
The reality is, I believe this land is our last stand. We will not be exiled willingly again. We will not be dragged to Rome and made to be slaves, to be forced to convert. Masada will not fall again…and if it does, Israel, Israelis, and the majority of world Jewry will cease to exist.
In a sense, Ryan fears the same nightmare. The thought terrifies him, as it does us. And he comes here to speak, to warn.
He tells me we are a warrior nation. For a Native American, a member of the First Nation, that’s about as high a compliment as you can get. He tells us now is the time that we must act as warriors.
And I realize, as the mother of warriors, it is their work as first responders, as medics that comes to mind. My sons were not raised to take the lives of others. They will (and have) fought and served this land, but they did not take the lives of innocents intentionally, with intent, with hatred.
What do you do when you fight a culture that orders its people to stand in front of their warriors, rather than behind them? When they order mothers to take their children to the rooftops to protect the buildings from which they attack us, how should we respond?
The First Nation, the warrior response, is that you take the shot because if you don’t, they will win. They will fire the nightmare salvo at us…and then what?
Can a warrior be a medic? Can a medic be a warrior?
And I explain, almost in tears, that we are the Jewish people. We are commanded to kill those who want to hurt us; but we are commanded to spare the lives of innocents. We are commanded to lose our lives, before we just our blood to be more red than another. We are commanded not to murder.
And so we come to the crux of the debate. If the only thing that will save us, is that which will destroy who we are, what are we to do?
Ryan almost desperately reminds me of King David, of those proud Israelites who stood against the Canaanites, the Amalekites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Crusades, and even the Nazis.
You are a warrior nation, he tells me with pride and urgency…and I respond that my sons are first responders who rush to help others.
He says I don’t understand him but I do. He’s right. He’s wrong. I am right, and I am wrong. And so we are both left saddened and worried.
We are a nation of warriors that want to be a nation of farmers. He tells us truth. YOU…Israel…YOU are the indigenous people of this land. You have reclaimed your homeland, your language, all that was, is yours again. We are an inspiration to native people all over the world because we alone (well, except for one other), have achieved our goal. We are home. Speaking our language. Upholding our traditions.
But we are still a nation at war. A nation that needs to be vigilant. We must be a nation of warriors, and we are. But must we be a Warrior Nation?
There is no answer. No way to resolve when our enemies demand that we be warriors or die. If we stop shooting, peace will not come. Only the end of Israel, as our enemies tell us regularly.
It’s Friday in Israel. The soup is boiling away, filling the house with amazing scents (or so I am told). I need to stop and make the stuffed mushrooms and a birthday cake for my grandson.
The sun is glorious today. Not hot. One of those perfect days. Perhaps we can find a way to be warriors and medics.