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Mending the tear in society


Twenty-three-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie died seven years ago when she was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza as she stood before a Palestinian home facing demolition. Democracy Now! devoted yesterday’s show to an interview with her sister Sarah and two parents, Cindy and Craig, who are currently in Haifa for the start of a civil trial against the state of Israel over the unlawful death of their daughter. I was struck by Craig Corrie’s words when Amy Goodman asked if the family would get a chance to meet the man who drove the bulldozer.

We would like to meet that person. There are lots of victims, Amy, when you look at a war and what happens. And we lost Rachel, and that hurts every day, but that bulldozer driver lost a lot of his humanity when he crushed Rachel. We’re told by B’Tselem, for instance, that in 2004, I believe, the highest—the cause, proportionately, of deaths in the Israeli soldiers, the highest one is suicide. There’s a big toll to soldiers. And I guess I have to hold out my hand, in some way, that if that man could understand what he’s done, in terms of our loss, if he could mourn our loss of Rachel, I could mourn his loss of humanity.

There’s a lot of steps, as Sarah says, that would have to happen that way. But yeah, I’d like to meet him. And it’s not about trying to put him in jail. It doesn’t do me any good if his children don’t have a father, if he has children. But some way, like Desmond Tutu talks about, of mending the tear in society, and I think it’s more like a wound in your arm, and to expect that one half of a wound would heal and the other half stay unhealed is impossible. Both halves have to heal.

Forgiveness is obviously at the very core of nonviolence, but it is often a difficult task to carry out. The fact that someone like Craig Corrie is ready and willing to do this should motivate anyone who harbors anger toward another human to repair the divide. His gesture also shows that good has come from Rachel’s untimely death and perhaps even more is on the way, should he ever meet the driver.