Today, March 16th, 2017, marks 14 years since the day that Rachel Corrie had her life taken. And though her life ended early, her courageous heart and defiant spirit will be carried onward, and continue to inspire many activists now and into the future.
Holding a megaphone, and wearing bright colors, Rachel Corrie stood in between a Palestinian house awaiting its demolition and the bulldozer about to demolish the house, in the town of Rafah in Gaza. For several days, ISM activists had been serving as protective presence in the homes that were on their way to being destroyed. Just hours before, a group of activists entered a Palestinian house about to be demolished, shouting at the military that they were inside, and they backed out.
The definition of a bulldozer: 1) a powerful track-laying tractor with caterpillar tracks and a broad curved upright blade at the front for clearing ground. 2) a person or group exercising irresistible force, especially in disposing of opposition.
A solidarity activist with ISM, Rachel Corrie used her body, her voice, her heart, and her will to try to stop one of many house demolitions plaguing the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation forces. The driver of the bulldozer, a Russian immigrant, claimed that he did not see her. And, as the driver began to drive towards the house, he scooped up the dirt and took this beautiful human with him. Not once, but two times, as other activists shouted to stop through the loudspeakers. Rachel's skull was fractured, and though she was still alive after the incident, not long after she was rushed to the hospital, she passed away. Rachel was twenty-three years old.
The case after her death proved to be controversial and contentious. Rachel's parents sued the state of Israel, and many organizations criticized Israel for their one-sided investigation of the case. As of 2015, the court has rejected the appeal.
Rachel's parents continue to do her work through the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice and launched projects in memory of their daughter. They have also advanced investigation into the incident and asked the U.S. Congress and various courts for redress. Rachel's story has inspired a play entitled "My Name is Rachel Corrie", followed by a book "Let Me Stand Alone" that includes journal entries and emails from her experience in Gaza.
This is a poem written by Rachel Corrie only a couple of months before her tragic death.
We are all born and someday we'll all die. Most likely to some degree alone. What if our aloneness isn't a tragedy? What if our aloneness is what allows us to speak the truth without being afraid? What if our aloneness is what allows us to adventure -- to experience the world as a dynamic presence -- as a changeable, interactive thing?
If I lived in Bosnia or Rwanda or who knows where else, needless death wouldn't be a distant symbol to me, it wouldn't be a metaphor, it would be a reality.
And I have no right to this metaphor. But I use it to console myself. To give a fraction of meaning to something enormous and needless.
This realization. This realization that I will live my life in this world where I have privileges.
I can't cool boiling waters in Russia. I can't be Picasso. I can't be Jesus. I can't save the planet single-handedly.
I can wash dishes.
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