Why Would I Feel the Sting - My Family Travels

It was my second time visiting Israel, the land of my forefathers, yet inside I was still anxious about going. The constant tension between the different cultures made me uneasy. The logical part of my mind kept telling me that everything would be okay. But the skeptical side of me always had to add the “what if.”  That part would not silence. This time my whole family had traveled to Jerusalem, the ancient city. In some way standing at in the old city had made me feel as if I had a connection with the past that occurred in the city thousands of years ago. It was a feeling that the logical part of my mind could not understand.

The first activity we that was planned to do in Jerusalem was to visit the City of David. The title of it being a city is really an understatement. In reality it was a dug up hole where much archeological evidence led it to believe that this was the old city of King David. It was difficult for my mind to comprehend that this artifacts had been in existence longer than I had ever been born. I could not even imagine people thousands of years ago using the tools and traveling down the steps I was walking on. It was a strange feeling that my brain knew that people had lived here so long ago, but I could not grasp the concept of how long ago it truly was.

While my mind was going through an intricate race between the past and the present, the tour guide had let us to the end of the tour outside the city. It happened that the outside of the City of David was the border where the Jewish side ends and the Arab side begins. I found myself walking away from the tour guide, and looked to the Arab side of the city. It was such a different site than the busy Los Angeles where everyone keeps to themselves. I could see building after building stuck right next to each other, with plaster falling off the structures, and with strings hanging off the windows filled with wet laundry. I saw young children playing soccer in the dirt right in front of the tarnished buildings. These young children played soccer till the last ounce of light was in the sky. Their mothers’ were yelling out the windows for them to come inside and eat dinner.  It was then that it hit me, through all the prejudice between the two cultures, they inevitably are the same.

It was at that moment I heard the loud speakers start the chant of the Namaz prayers (the Islamic prayers that occur several times a day towards Mecca). The tune of the Arabic words seemed to dance off the Priest’s tongue. The prayers that were being chanted out of the loudspeaker were just as ancient and holy as the city I was standing in.
While I was absorbed in my mind about the connection between the two cultures, that appear so different through the media, but in reality come from the same roots, I felt a sting in my arm. I looked to see a rock on the ground.  A second later I saw a rock fly right past my father’s head. From the Arab side I could see a little boy throwing the rocks in our direction. I looked back on the ground to the rock that had hit my body, and I could not understand why the little boy who did not even know who I am, throw the rock at me. Then I put the puzzle pieces together, because I was standing on the opposite side of the border, the Jewish side of the border. For that moment I felt a bit smaller in the world, and then I began to feel sorry for people who are victims of the prejudice from both cultures.

Through my experiences of that day, I was no longer afraid to travel to Israel. My heart gave out to the people who could not understand that we are all the same. We come from the same place, and leave the same place. I no longer was anxious, but aware that through societies complexities, just by one more person understanding the bigger picture, there world could be one step ahead of going toward peace.

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