If you have kids, you might agree with me that it seems like their lives are one near-death experience after another. My son can find ways to get hurt in the blink of an eye, at the drop of a hat, or any other cliche we might throw at it. He can get hurt when I’m standing right next to him and he can sprint away from me even when I think I have a firm grasp on his hand.
But he’s still alive. On the rare occasions when someone’s carelessness puts him in danger, I’m not able to view the situation with much equanimity. Every time I think about someone hurting my son, I also think about how I’d treat that person.
Thankfully I’ve never been in a position to find out whether I’m all bluster or not.
Izzeldin, Abuelaish, the author of I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity found himself in a situation that I, and I hope, you, could never imagine.
When the book begins, his wife has died of leukemia about 18 months earlier. He takes his children to the beach and surprised them with a gift: a small olive grove he purchased.
Soon afterwards, Israeli rockets explode into a building where three of his children are killed. Just like that. Gone.
Over and over, page after page, I found myself wondering “How is this guy still functioning? How does anyone come back from something like that? How is he not utterly consumed by hatred?”
The following video is Dr. Abuelaish talking about the events, his hopes for Gaza, and more. It’s a long video, but worth a viewing:
Not only does he continue his life, he continues a life of service, compassion, and generosity. He is a doctor. An infertility specialist. He is in a unique position where he is needed by people on both sides of the conflict.
This book made me feel like the pettiest person alive. I know that’s not his intention, but the wrongs that people have done to me in my life pale in comparison to the tragedy of Dr. Abuelaish and his children. And their story is not unique, as is shown in the author’s backstory, and the backstory of the region, which he uses to demonstrate how the conflict arrived in its current state, and where he hopes it can go next.
I cannot talk about the book better than the video above. Please watch at least 5 minutes of it, then discuss below if you would like to share any of your thoughts.
I’ve rarely been so moved by a book, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as inspired by a person’s compassion and kindness.