Today, I was watching the local news while nursing my four month old daughter. The black and red news banner read:
CRISIS IN WEST BANK
Flashy logo, big bold letters. Sunday was the deadliest day since the conflict erupted two weeks ago. But, today was a rainy summer Monday here in North Carolina. I had my child, safe, nestled up against me. Watching the news, I had that vague empty feeling you get knowing that something horrible is happening somewhere far from you.
Maybe you hate it. You hate knowing it is happening but you change the channel when they start bringing out their dead and you cry about how there is too much negativity in the world. At least, that is what I do.
I’ve been alive for almost 35 years and for every single one of those, there have been news banners hailing a crisis in the Middle East. Generation after generation of hate and violence and no answers, no answers, just more hate and violence. These things are passed down in the blood, in the milk that flows from mother to child.
I burrowed my body further into the couch, listened to the rain pelt the windows and hugged my daughter to me. I pushed that one stubborn lock of hair off her forehead and she blinked up at me.
A face flashed across the television screen.
A boy, smiling, his arm hugging someone cropped out of the picture. Not a boy, not really. A dead soldier. An American citizen, killed in the conflict in Gaza.
It isn’t important that he was an American, other than the fact that this got him on my local news. But, his name was Sean Nissim Carmeli and he was from Texas.
My daughter turned her head, distracted by the sounds coming from the television. I murmered, “Shh, come back,” to her but something, someone, had caught her attention.
She’s flirting now, this tiny girl. She’s beginning to feel people react to her happiness. She saw the happy face of the soldier, this dead boy, on the television. And, she answered with a big grin that crinkled her eyes and transformed her entire sleepy face. His picture was smiling back at her. He could have been in our living room, that was how delighted she was by his face. She let out a deep belly laugh.
I feel it now – this loss and so many others reported on the news. I feel it through her. Because, she doesn’t care about the thousands of differences that divide us. She hasn’t learned to care yet. The only thing she cared about was that he had a pretty smile and she liked him but he is already gone from her world. How many more? Over 500 smiling faces already gone in the last two weeks alone.
Over 500 and counting.