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Opinion: “I just want to encourage you, my little corner of the internet, to not grow weary in fighting injustice wherever and whenever you see it.” 

Loyal readers (my three best friends lol) will remember that I described myself as having an “unfortunate interest in politics.” As my descriptor suggests, I have spent the last few years trying to move away from the political, but not for lack of interest. I can only understand my reluctance to engage as a cover for exhaustion, some of it born of wisdom and some of it a reflection of deep cynicism. But, as Bell Hooks asserts, cynicism is often just a mask. A mask for disappointment.

And silence is political, too.

Like most of you, I’ve spent a lot of time the past month and a half tuning into the news and hearing updates about the war in Gaza. And, like most of you, I have felt utterly paralyzed by the scale of human suffering that is taking place there.

One of my lasting reflections since this war started has been about our responsibility to bear witness. What does it mean to repeatedly bear witness to the pain of a people group? To see, over and over, the tears–or stunned silence– of children battered by bombardment? The screams of families mourning their loved ones? The dreams that crumble with the rubble?

And what should we do with what we have seen?

In times like this, I think of Arundhati Roy and her feelings of misfortune at having stumbled into “silent war.” About which she says, “once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”

To say nothing of the misfortunes of the millions disaffected, disenfranchised, and abused by Empire across the globe, Palestinians have been subject to humiliation and dehumanization for decades. But it’s this moment of extreme brutalization, coupled with the power of social media, that is making their usually silent (ignored by Western masses) abuse come to light once more.

I fear we should not look away.

And I don’t mean we shouldn’t take a break from social media or decrease our intake of gruesome images. I mean we must bear witness: we must behold the pain of the other and allow it to compel us.

I love the question Warsan Shire poses: “In Somali, when we see injustice we say ‘dhiiga kuma dhaqaaqo?’ which translates into ‘does your blood not move?’”

Does our blood not move?

*

There are moments in which generations of activism are crystallized, and a movement is galvanized.

This feels like one of those moments.

For many people of color, the children of the dispossessed, there has always been a knowledge that things are not as they should be.

Many of us are here because of violence.

When white phosphorus rains down from the skies in Gaza, Ethiopians, for example, don’t have to look far to point to a similar horror released on them in the form of mustard gas by Italy. Even now, we regularly bear witness to this type of conflict and wartime atrocity in our homelands.

But for many who had the prior privilege of ignorance, the veil is gone. If at all there was a “putative peace” before this, it has been disrupted.

At least for now.

*

I often question the value of posting on the internet: What can I say that has not already been said? Where is the line between raising awareness and virtue signaling? At what point does one begin to ignore the messages one is inundated by?

Even so, I cannot stay silent.

Moreover, I have seen posts from many Gazans asking that those of us who are paying attention keep their memories— their names, dreams, culture, art, achievements— alive, and that we stand witness to the fact that they existed.

And I know so many of you reading have been honoring this wish.

You have shared numerous stories, news articles, pieces of poetry, and calls to action the past month or so.

So many of you have been participating in your own forms of activism.

You have cried, donated money (even when you knew or thought it was futile, off the simple hope that maybe, just maybe, it would reach someone in need), protested your governments, and called your elected officials.

And I guess I just want to take a moment to say that all of this matters so, so much. Not just for the people in need at the present moment, but for our own souls.

It is important to respond, to allow ourselves to be compelled, because that’s how we preserve our humanity.

I just want to encourage you, my little corner of the internet, to not grow weary in fighting injustice wherever and whenever you see it.

Because we should not, we cannot, stay silent.

We must never let our blood stop moving.

Author

  • Emnet Shibre

    Emnet is an Ethiopian American writer based in Denver. She identifies as a person of faith, a daughter of immigrants, and a lover of people. A former teacher and lifelong learner, Emnet has a passion for storytelling and hopes to use her writing to share stories that challenge and inspire. She documents her musings, political commentary, melancholy, and cosmic hopefulness on emnet.substack.com

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Emnet Shibre

Author Emnet Shibre

Emnet is an Ethiopian American writer based in Denver. She identifies as a person of faith, a daughter of immigrants, and a lover of people. A former teacher and lifelong learner, Emnet has a passion for storytelling and hopes to use her writing to share stories that challenge and inspire. She documents her musings, political commentary, melancholy, and cosmic hopefulness on emnet.substack.com

More posts by Emnet Shibre

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