Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata

In the movie, The Lion King, a young lion cub haunted by guilt for something he did not do is taught the healing phrase, “Hakuna Matata.”  “It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy.  Hakuna Matata.”

The Arabic equivalent would be “mish mushqili”, I guess.  “No problem.”

I find myself humming the music to “Hakuna Matata” every now and then here.  It’s the Great Escape.  And granted, it’s a Healing Moment if you are consumed, as Simba was, with guilt and shame over the past.  But it doesn’t work as an antidote for the future.

We can’t, for instance, personally look a poor child in the eye and apply Jesus’ words, “The poor you will always have with you”, as a way to get let off the hook. It’s not about keeping us from feeling bad about what we should be doing, and aren’t.  Jesus never meant to give us a Quick Fix to make us Feel Better.

If you take a jeep (or in our case a very resilient Subaru) over rough roads for an hour into the desert, you reach what is arguably the most remote of the villages we visit.  In a corridor of Area C and precariously placed between two military zones at the southern tip of the West Bank, Dkaika is home to a Bedouin population of around 220 residents. According to the school headmaster, the people have lived here since before Turkish rule.

The people of Dkaika have little in the way of material possessions, and their land is not favorable.  Their dwellings are tents with dirt floors.  Water is brought into the community by tractor.  Here there is no electricity.  Children do not have toys here, not really, although I did find an old toy gun in the sand. Because of this, an organization called Right to Play has come to the school, which serves 60 children, and taught games. They brought supplies. The school does not have basic school supplies, let alone things like balls and games.  The children receive a biscuit and 5 ounces of milk from the World Food Program a few times a week. There is an infrequent traveling medical clinic 5 kilometers away, but no local medical staff.

Israel has been trying to reduce this community’s buildings to rubble and to displace its people since the 1980s. In January of 2011, 13 buildings were demolished. In June, the army destroyed some tents, four rooms and two toilets originally constructed by Oxfam.  One of the rooms demolished was a school classroom; two other classrooms suffered extensive damage as well.  Islamic Relief and Unicef have been working to rebuild these classrooms, but the army is not happy about the repairs and the entire school continues to be very vulnerable.

The pretext for these demolitions is that the structures were erected without building permits, but this is the Occupation talking.  The truth is that because fewer than 100 building permits have been given to Palestinians living in Area C since the Oslo accords, Palestinians usually do not wait to receive one before doing necessary work, because they know they will not receive a permit. Destroy, rebuild. Destroy, rebuild.  For the village, it’s very bad economics and it doesn’t do much for mental health, either.

Currently there are demolition orders outstanding for 46 structures. These include 5 toilets and a cistern for storing the water.  These demolition orders comprise almost all the structures in the village and affect 220 people as well as 700 sheep and goats and 20 camels.

Why?

In the face of this,  it’s tempting to shrug our collective shoulders.  What can be done?

“Hakuna Matata.”

But you can’t use the Arabic equivalent.  This is not a moment for “mish mushqili.”  This is a big problem.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Which is which?  We won’t know unless we try.

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