What is the difference between hate and love, death and life? Maybe the words I read this morning will help you understand. Maybe they will clarify or perhaps simply reiterate what you know. Either way, from far off shores, these words came to me this morning from a man name Ryan Bellerose. Ryan is Metis. Metis is a tribe of Native Americans; they call themselves, and rightly so, First Nation – because they were there first, because they are a nation, because they have experienced hate.
I grew up calling them Indians or American Indians. That is a term put on them by the white man. They are Metis, Cherokee, Sioux, Apache, Navajo, Crow, Shoshone. Long ago, I used to love watching movies of cowboys and Indians and I have a secret to tell you. I always sided with the Indians. They were a people who simply wanted to live in their own land, live their own lives. They lived with the land, loved the land and the white man came and didn’t understand. The white man didn’t understand the land; they didn’t understand the people and as has happened too often in history, they chose to try to destroy what they could not comprehend. I understood the beauty of their culture; the purity of their love. Until…until one day, I learned that while I sided with them, too many of them didn’t side with my people. Too many didn’t see the connection. They thought the Jews were the white men, the occupiers, the conquerors.
But not all feel this way. More and more are beginning to understand – thanks, in large part, to a man named Ryan Bellerose. Ryan is Metis and though I have yet to actually meet him face to face, I already know that Ryan doesn’t have a subtle bone in his body. What he has also accomplished is not just a change among his own people, but one in mine as well. Ryan has been promoting the rights of indigenous people. His people are the indigenous ones, and so are mine. It’s a simple concept, really. So obvious and so ignored. What it isn’t, is simple. The complexity of our rights to this land grow each year as we move forward in time, farther and farther away from the source, the history, and the truth. Ryan has dedicated a huge amount of his energy to reminding Jews that we, like the Native Americans, are the indigenous ones.
This morning, I woke to a sunny, warm, beautiful day in Israel. I also woke to a post that Ryan had made to Facebook. I read it. Read it again and thought – this. This is the truth. This is what the struggle is all about. Love and hate. Life and death. It isn’t really about Islam versus Judaism versus Christianity. It isn’t even about Jews. Are you one who hates or are you one who loves? It’s really as simple as that. What Ryan keeps trying to do is remind the world that often it really is that clear, that simply, that black and white (and red).
Sometimes the truth spoken by another is somehow stronger than when you say it yourself. That was my impression when I read these words…truth. Ultimately, it really isn’t about land. It’s about hate and love; it’s about death and life.
Hate and Love – the words of Ryan Bellerose
Hate makes you strap a bomb onto yourself with the hope of killing as many people as you can. Love makes you stop that person with your own body.
Hate makes you drive a car into a crowd. Love makes you run toward the event to help anyone you can.
Hate makes you take a knife and stab a family sitting down for Shabbat dinner. Love makes you hold off the killer unarmed, while your wife takes your children to safety.
Hate makes you blow up buildings hijack airplanes, murder women and children and hide bombs in schools, it makes you shoot unguided rockets at civilians and shoot anti-tank rockets at elementary school buses.
Love? Love makes you come home after two thousand years of exile.
Love makes you resurrect a dead language, love makes you forget that you live in a shitty neighbourhood where your neighbours all want to kill you.
Love makes you stay you when it would be so easy to give up and give in.
I have written that Zionism is a three thousand year love story between a country and its people and I believe that, it saddens me to see people who don’t understand why that’s so amazing.