How many does it take?

Jesus said that He had nowhere to lay his head.  He knew the pain of having no fixed abode, no place of security on this earth.
Hold that thought.

Today my great neice and great nephew, along with other family members, walked the low tide beach together  and found a strange collection of about 20 hermit crabs, inside their little periwinkle houses, walking around at the edge of the waves.  Now, to find a single hermit crab is always fun for a small child, but to find so many in one place is quite exceptional and we had a great time watching them.

One little crab had no shell, and he (she?) became the subject of everyone’s concern. It was homeless.  No doubt it had outgrown its previous shell and was out looking for new digs, but we were concerned. Compassion for homeless creatures apparently begins early in life. How could we help?  Maybe a seagull would eat the poor wee thing!  We looked in vain for an empty shell for the homeless crab to move into, something just the right size, but alas, nothing suitable could be found. Thankfully, the vulnerable crab washed out on a wave before any hungry birds could spot him and gulp him down.  We all expressed a hope that he would find a new home out in the sea.

Btselem, a human rights watchdog organization, and EAPPI, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, have been observing the sudden homelessness of more and more Palestinian and Bedouin people in the Occupied Territories this year.  This is due to the loss, due to illegal demolition, of far too many homes of far too many people in the first half of 2011. The pace of demolitions is speeding up. Where do the homeless and impoverished people go when they find everything they own turned to a pile of rubble? Unlike the hermit crab, this is not a natural process, a sort of evolution.  Human beings without shelter. Do they disappear into the sea of humanity?

Is there a threshold effect?   How many does it take? Is 706 illegally displaced persons enough for half a year?  Or is one too many? One diabetic or one child without shelter in the desert. Isn’t even one enough for us to take notice, and worry, and weep?

8 thoughts on “How many does it take?

  1. I appreciate your passion on behalf of the oppressed people of Palestine. I was there to witness the effects of the occupation a year and a half ago and I can say with certainty that it is happening. It is not propoganda! Your story and your compassion for the people of Palestine, and other occupied territories, can and will tug at the hearts of many others. Clay Shirky mades comment that the internet and social media can be the avenue for social change. Your words along with Desmond Tutu’s and with the help of Glen Beck change can happen! Peace and encouragement of the Lord be with you.

  2. Ironically the hermit crab likely received more attention than likely did many a homeless person. Animals we seem to be okay with intervening on their behalf, but for some reason the great capability of humans to be in relationship with one another through communication is simply to off putting for some people to do anything when they see a homeless person except wonder how they got there and hope that they’re being taken care of.

    We seem to be okay with managing the needs of an animal, but somehow helping another human being is simply beyond the capability of some. It makes me wonder about how much of our privileged lives has become understood as necessity.

    • How much of our privileged lives has become understood as necessity? We don’t really know until we are asked to give it up. Then, we know.

  3. I, too, appreciate your passion, Chris, and your presence with the people of Palestine. I know we will be hearing more from you as the voice of the displaced and homeless. Blessings abundant!
    At a Peace Not Walls gathering last fall, we heard a young Palestinian Christian woman talk of the lack of medical facilities in Palestine – the process of going through unimaginable permits and checkpoints to get to Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem. Here is a link to the website for more information
    http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Justice/Peace-Not-Walls.aspx

    • Kathee, I’ve heard Mark Brown speak at Augusta Victoria on a couple occasions now. In 2009, he was speaking about how the permit requirements for workers to get to Augusta Victoria were capricious at best. While surgeons living in West Bank had special permits to get through the checkpoints in a timely manner, that was not the case for the other staff, that is, the nurses, physiotherapists, anaesthetists, and other support personnel so needed to run a hospital. Imagine having your surgery scheduled for 8 am and not being able to have it because your surgeon was permitted to appear but not your anaesthesiologist or your scrub nurses. And in Gaza, there are terrible shortages of supplies to run a hospital, not to mention a bad water supply and chancy electricity to run things like dialysis machines and ventilators. Thanks for the link. I’m following “peace not walls” on my google reader now. Stay connected, I’ll be blogging from this site once I get over to West Bank, hopefully (inshallah!)

  4. Chris, I continue to hold you and the people of Palestine in my prayers. The little that I do know about the situation over there is from I have learned from you. With our sense of entitlement, it is hard for us to imagine someone without the internet…let alone a home. And from watching our TV commercials, our hearts go out to helpless animals but are somehow turned off by the few images we see of the homeless child. By example, and many of them, Jesus showed us the kind of love that He wanted us to show our neighbor and it wasn’t the wealthy neighbor who could give me a kickback. Rather, it was the neighbor who was down and out…without hope. One of the many challenges is how do we turn the hearts of the many who feel entitled and lived a life of such blessing to feel for, be moved by, love, and act our neighbors around the world?

    • Heather, thanks for the post and the prayers. I think it is important to become informed and involved about what is going on. People largely do not have knowledge of the situation, so casting doubt on the mood of the news when everything paints one side good and the other side bad is a good place to start. There is no way I would be doing this if I hadn’t gone and seen how the situation was hurting real people, and this human element of dispossession is rarely in our news, so that is what I want people to see, that this is about real human beings being treated badly. I look forward to staying in touch.

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