As I wrote in my immediately previous post, as Israel and Hezbollah fling missiles at each other and as the civilian casualty count inevitably mounts in the conflict, we’re all searching for understanding. I recognize that “comparisons are odious” (attributed to Cervantes but, somehow, I think there may be a Latin original) or, perhaps more to the point as Dogberry put it, “Comparisons are odorous”. However, an analogy has been rattling around in my skull for several days now.
Consider the situation of Israel. They’ve moved into a neighborhood with the assistance of a wealthy backer despite restrictive covenants. Before they moved in everyone in the neighborhood were cousins and their neighbors hate them. The local community association is now the “Association for Everybody But Them”.
Their next door neighbor’s kid has fired a shotgun through their front window, stolen and tortured their cat, and now he’s kidnapped their own twelve year old. What do they do?
They’ve tried appealing to their neighbors. For years. To no avail. They’ve called the police. A squad car was dispatched but the officers have done little more than park in front of their house, drink coffee, and eat donuts. The most they’ve gotten from the authorities is that they’ve been issued several tickets for disturbing the peace and for filing false police reports (regardless of the truth of the reports).
What do they do? The situation is serious: they’ve decided to take matters into their own hands.
Consider the situation of Lebanon. Neighbors have moved in next door. They’re strangers and have moved into a neighborhood which was, basically, a large extended family. They don’t belong to the local church, their ways are different, and they talk funny.
Their kid has fired a shotgun through the neighbor’s front window, stolen and tortured the neighbor’s cat, and is now holding the neighbor’s twelve year old in the basement. What do they do?
They know their kid’s a psychotic—he’s still their kid. Mom will divorce dad if he takes as firm a hand as is needed. They don’t want to call the police—except to complain about the neighbor. They won’t make any points with the rest of the neighbors by siding with the newcomer against their own kid.
What’s worse, the drug dealer across town has started giving the kid arms and encouragement in his thuggery.
Torn between the alternatives of tearing their family apart (not to mention the neighborhood), they elect to do nothing and hope it will all blow away.
I’m not trying to trivialize the situation. Real people are really losing their lives, this present outbreak of hostilities will have consequences that will reverberate for generations, and I wonder if anyone will really have won when the dust has settled.
I guess my point is that the situation is tragic but very understandable, even prosaic.