My Raw Heart

By Guest Contributor

I have a sister. I have a best friend. I have parents.

I also watched a film called Five Broken Cameras today. A documentary by Emad Burnat, the movie shows us the scenes of his life. The man happens to be Palestinian, and by that I mean his life sometimes seems inaccessible to me until I think: I have a sister. I have a best friend. I have parents.

I have a sister. She’s two years older than me. We’ve shaped each other, grown up together, and she knows more about my life than anyone else alive. In Five Broken Cameras, I watched a man see his older brother shot by Israeli soldiers. What was the brother’s crime? He was at a protest saying that he didn’t want a wall built through his family’s land. If my older sister was shot my world would be a little broken inside. I love to smile, but like that younger brother in Palestine, I don’t know if my smile could survive losing Hannah. Especially not after seeing her fight to keep our town whole and then seeing that hope lost down the barrel of a gun.

I have a best friend. I’ve known her since we were both in fourth grade. She’s my lovely, my heart, my favorite narcissist and my home. I’ve been to demonstrations with her before. We’ve marched together, chanting about how we should let people who love each other get married, even if they happen to be of the same gender. I don’t want to even imagine how I would feel to see her ripped away from me by soldiers. To see her lifted bodily and dragged away, fear on her face. I can’t imagine not talking to her for a year, let alone spending that whole year wondering if she would be all right in prison.  Just thinking about that happening to China terrifies me but I just watched this exact scene play out over and over as Emad saw his brothers taken from him and arrested.

Finally, I have parents. We have a house, one I’ve lived in for 18 years. My senior year of high school someone broke into our house and robbed us. I was the first one home, and I still remember the feeling of invasion, like my person had somehow been violated. Imagine if I were Palestinian, living in a place called the West Bank. Instead of being robbed, my family would deal with Israeli soldiers coming in the middle of the night and banging on our door. My parents are quiet people; they’re people who like plans and science. Imagining them standing by helplessly while armed men search our house and shake me and Hannah from our beds, pointing their weapons at us as they yell at us to get out of our own home, breaks my heart a little. I think of my quiet, respectable parents walking back into the home that has Hannah’s and my childhood artwork on the walls and seeing their faces as they see everything torn down, overturned and ransacked, and then seeing them swallowing that pain for long enough to begin to be able to put our life back together. I have a lot of love in my heart, but I think that could teach me hate.

This scene happens. This memory belongs to a professor who teaches here, who is a real person you will have to look in the eyes if you want to deny his experience.

I don’t care about your politics. I don’t care what your ideology is. I don’t even care what you think, because this isn’t a matter for your intellect or your mind. I ask instead that as someone’s sibling, as someone’s friend or as someone’s child you let your heart get rubbed a little raw by hearing these stories. Because then I know that you are at least as human as a Palestinian.

I can’t know where your raw heart will lead you; that’s for you to decide. Mine has led me to a club that meets on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. called “Justice for Palestine.”

Written by CELESTE ALLEN ’16 of Scottsdale, Ariz.

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