Will there ever be peace in the Middle East? I asked my students in the class
Searching for the real world
Imagine it is up to you
to find the solution
to bring the peace
to the Middle East
25 eyes look up to me
some just plainly uninterested...
It is too much to ask
of year seven
I have already heard
the principal's voice in my head.
'Let's see how clever you are,
it will be a group work,
so you can not fail
and the ones with the best answers
I will take to meet my two friends
one from Israel
and one from Palestine..."
I said too eagerly
and kids picked on it
"So that means no school for a day, Miss?"
"To meet them for what?"
"In your house?"
I heard their shouts.
I put my hand up to silence them.
"They come to school so you will have a chance
to talk to them about the countries
we have learnt so much this year in Social Studies about."
They sighed and shook their heads,
their bored expressions warned me
that I have to try harder to keep their interest up.
"They will cook some great food for you to taste
and bring some music on...
and yes it means one day off the school for you."
After brief summary of the situation in the Middle East
and what the word 'peace' means
we talked about how to work cooperatively.
Then they were divided
into five groups
and each gave a big sheet of paper
to brainstorm their ideas,
but there was a trouble from the start...
We stack the tables together
and kids lined up
to pick up their place.
"I don't want to work with him..."
"She is just too slow..."
"I want to work with my friend not with her..."
Their complaints went unheard,
they knew that,
but once I pointed for the first group to sit next to window
they started again:
"It is not fair, one of them is my desk,
I always sit there..."
"I wear glasses I have to sit near the window..."
"That is why the first group always wins..."
I pointed for the second group to sit
where our i-pads were stored,
the rest of the class went ballistic:
"Do not let Michael to sit there Miss,
he is just too good on i-pad, he will cheat..."
Michael got red in his face
and tried to wrestle the accuser
to the ground.
Meanwhile the kid with the glasses
ran to the student sitting on his chair
near the window
and slapped him hard across the face:
"This spot is mine."
I took the whistle and blowed it hard.
That was the signal for everyone
and they stopped
some looking down ashamed
and some victorius,
the injured kept crying out loud
so everyone could hear their just complaints,
but no one really cared,
the attackers kept whispering:
"It was your fault, anyway."
Kids lost their right to sit on chairs
they ended up sitting cross legged
on the floor
just like year one
no more peace
in the Middle East,
as there were more pressing issues
for us to discuss.
The rest of the lesson
about the right and wrong,
the 'me' and 'us',
what is fair and what is not,
if winning by unjust means
is still a win,
and how easy
to find an enemy
and start a war...
On my next parents' meeting
I have brought up
the unanswered question
from my failed experiment
to see what reaction I get.
"You are a great teacher but too idealistic
if I may say,"
the father of the boy in glasses laughed,
"I am very proud of my son,
he has just defended his right,
at least I can be assured
he is ready for the real world,
'about that peace in the Middle East',
who cares about that?
Better you teach them something that help them to succeed."
I was the shooting star
he was the dark matter
the perfect example
of an idealist
who went to war.
The crucible destruction
of a human soul....
whose world is real,
his or mine?
More by this Author
Richard Brautigan (1935-1984) was a literary idol of the 1960 and 1970s counterculture era. His Trout Fishing in America is everything about fishing and nothing about fishing of yesterday and of today
Getting back to basics, and working on self, is the key to a happier life than filling it with stuff. We need to go back find ourselves, forgive and love. Those are the basics for our inner spirit.
Self compassion helps us to forgive as we know that we are not alone in our abusive relationship with ourselves. We can only have compassion for our misplaced way of dealing with our emotions and pain