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Prisoners show the way, by Mazin Qumsiyeh

Today all of Palestine is on strike in solidarity with the fasting prisoners
and tomorrow is a day of indignation, demonstrations, and confrontations
with the occupiers. Bethlehem is a ghost town and all shops and public
transportation are closed and Israeli helicopters are in the skies.
[Volunteers came to museum and we are taking a group on tour of the walland impact of settlements n the environment because this is not work butresistance]. Tomorrow is a day of demonstrations and confrontations. Inthis message I just want to reflect on why this is very important.Every day we encounter greedy people focused on their own needs andunhealthy desires. How many cheated us? How many come around us becausethey want some material interest? How many corrupt politicians we know? Howmany people we know turned out to be kinder and gentler and more selfsacrificing than we thought? How many turned out more mean, more selfish,more sadistic? Looking at the world in this fashion (some would claim it isseeing reality) can be truly dispiriting. It can remove any remaininghumanity in many people. But then comes a prisoner hunger strike! It soundssmall but it touches a cord in human beings bigger than any other and Iwill argue it is the way to reclaim our humanity.Today, Palestinians and their friends around the world show solidarity withover 1800 Palestinian political prisoners who are on their 11th day ofhunger strike. Salt and water is all they will take until their just andrightful demands are met (basic decent treatment in prison based oninternational law). It sounds simple but this is a profound even inPalestinian and human history. The price one pays for resistance is injury,death or imprisonment. It is the antithesis of selfishness and greed.800,000 Palestinians tasted life in prison and today almost 7000 are therein the colonial apartheid Israeli prisons. While everyone knows this, thehunger strike brought the prisoners' message home to all - rich and poor,greedy and self-sacrificing, honest and liar. This message is nothing shortof that we humans must reconnect to our humanity and that caring for othersis the way to save humanity. In this 21st century with weapons of massdestruction and climate change, we cannot afford as a species to dootherwise. Prisoners show us the way like many decent human beings showedus the way before (think of Jesus and prophets and revolutionaries like CheGuevera). But the alarm bells for us are now alarm bells for a dyingspecies unless we act. It is more urgent than ever in our short history onearth. We really have a choice to make and it is both an individual and acollective choice. That choice is to either accept war and greed as"natural" and follow the other human lemmings over the cliff OR resist andgive of ourselves as a way to save humanity.  Mahatma Gandhi used hungerstrike to refocus people away from greed and selfishness to caring for eachother. Hunger is painful and people will die sooner or later unless we allact. What is at stake is very high: our own self-respect (dignity) as humanbeings. But as the world changed, the danger is that we can also go extinctas a species unless we manage to collectively transcend a huge baggage ofgreed, colonialism, and  capitalism that cannot be sustained in the 21stcentury. Palestinian prisoners by their silent deeds of self-sacrifice haveshown us the way. As did martyrs like Basil Al-Araj who simply noted thatin his extremely short last words on paper: there is no more eloquantspeech than the deed of the Martyr.Kkalil Gibran wrote in "The Prophet" 1923: “You give but little when yougive of your possessions; it is when you give of yourself that you trulygive.  For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fearyou may need them tomorrow?  And what is fear of need but need itself.” Theprisoners and the martyrs gave silently of themselves. For the rest of us,where we stand today and tomorrow will say a lot about who we are.Here is a relevant article I wrote seven years ago "The Savior in Each ofUs" humanMazin QumsiyehA bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at homeProfessor and (volunteer) DirectorPalestine Museum of Natural HistoryPalestine Institute of Biodiversity and SustainabilityBethlehem UniversityOccupied Palestinehttp://qumsiyeh.orghttp://palestinenature.orgJoin me on facebook