Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tornadoes v. Rockets

This is part of the view from my favorite place in Israel: the hammock on the porch of the apartment I rented.  Almost every night I spent a little time in this hammock relaxing and watching the moon rise over Beer Sheva.  My next few posts will be reflections on my trip.  These are my Thoughts from the Hammock.

Installment #1: Tornadoes v. Rockets.

At some point within the first three days of arriving in Israel, the guy I'm subletting this apartment from let me know that there would be a city-wide siren some time the following day. An emergency preparedness drill, like the fire drills from high school in which an alarm would ring and we'd practice the proper procedure in case the school was on fire - walk calmly onto the football field making sure that we'd rescued our ipods and sacrificed our homework.

The city-wide siren wasn't exactly a fire drill.  It was a rocket drill.  This is the siren that would sound if rockets, presumably from Gaza, were fired on Beer Sheva.  My host shared that, as part of the drill, people were expected to at least identify the nearest bomb shelter they would move to in the event of incoming rockets.  The good news is that my room in the apartment is a bomb shelter.  It has a steel shutter that slides over the window and reinforced walls and door.  I was simultaneously comforted and disturbed by this revelation.

Once the drill came and went and my jet lag wore off, the anxiety about potential rockets also wore off.  I remembered that just a few weeks earlier I'd experienced city-wide sirens in Little Rock, Arkansas.  No threat of rockets in Little Rock.  Those sirens were tornado warnings and they weren't a drill.  Several large tornadoes touched down in and near Little Rock causing a great deal of destruction.  Remembering those sirens and the cause of those sirens gave me a different perspective on the rocket drill sirens of Beer Sheva.  I realized that if ever I was forced to choose between the two I'd choose the rocket sirens.  I'd choose the rocket sirens because I feel like I have some control over whether or not those are needed.

We (humans) made the rockets.  Our technology powers them. Our fingers push the buttons that send them hurtling at one another. Our minds decide whether or not to use them.  Which means that it is within Our power to stop them.  No amount of mediating or conflict resolution or diplomacy can stop a tornado.  But We can stop the rockets and since I'm part of the greater We, I can work to stop the rockets, so everyone can enjoy their hammock time at the end of a hot desert day.