Is there anything quite like walking through a spider web? For those of us with our spider issues (I’m not phobic, but nearly), the sensation rests somewhere between a shudder and a gag. The other morning, out jogging at 6:00 am, I was the lucky human that got to tear through all…those…webs.
I use the word “tear” here quite intentionally: while the feeling it evokes in humans is far from pleasant, I can’t imagine how awful it must be for the spiders. And yet, I can tell you exactly what they do: they re-weave. They probably don’t hum and haw and go tell their neighbor spiders about how horrible it was (oh, the arachnidity!). They just get on with it. Far-less dignified dogs enthralled with their daily walk carelessly destroy hours of intricate labor, and they re-weave. Screaming little girls flail their arms madly about them in horror, certain there is an army of 8-legged creepy-crawlies making a home of their hair, and they re-weave. Depending on the type of spider, it could just be a particularly windy day, and they re-weave.
We humans aren’t quite so zen about it all. Home is a word that means a lot more than the place where we sleep and trap flies who we’ll bring to a demise worthy of the most horrible horror films. Home is where we raise our children, where we make love to our partners, where we break bread with the people we love most dearly in the world. Home is – or should be – where we seek sanctuary.
Only sometimes, that just isn’t the case.
It’s possible that no single group of people understand this better than Palestinians. Since 1967, more than 26,000 homes have been destroyed in Palestine, many of them more than once. In January this year, Beit Arabiya (“Arabiya’s House,” named for Arabiya, wife of Salim, both of whom once called it Home) was demolished by Israeli forces for the fifth time. Talk about re-weaving. In the same go, 52 people were displaced – 29 of them children. My friend M works for an extraordinary organization called ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions), who’ve made housing demolitions the focus of their work in Palestine. In just over a week, ICAHD will bring their own troops to East Anata. They will be armed with hammers, nails and wood, and they will re-weave. Again.
Some of you contributed this year to another re-weaving. Many thousands of miles away from all of us, Severe Tropical Storm Washi (local name Sendong) hit the Philippine island of Mindanao, killing over 1200 people and destroying countless homes in what was presumably the worst night in a lot of lives. With so many people affected, the government, Red Cross, and many, many more organizations were doing all they could to address the issue. Still, so very many needs were unmet. My friend Laura, who I’d worked alongside whilst living there, was collecting what she could to directly aid victims, and I asked you all to contribute. You’ll be happy to know that, all told, she made 11,392€ (roughly $14,300), which went to a whole load of innovative, victim-centered initiatives. But don’t take it from me – read the report she put together for all of you here.
It’s unlikely that any of my regualr readers will have witnessed an army tearing their house to pieces at 4:00 in the morning, or will have watched from a neighbor’s roof as torrents of water flushed their home into a river. But some will have lost their home in other ways…regardless, I deeply believe in the human capacity for empathy – Laura demonstrated it with her hugely successful fundraising endeavor (that continues – if you’re interested in helping out, shoot me an email or comment below); ICAHD demonstrates it time and again on their annual Rebuilding Camps (Fancy pitching in? You can do so by clicking on that link).
We may not have the quiet resolve and Buddha-like detachment of the humble spider, but what we do have – what just might save humanity one day after all – is a sort of tenacity unparalleled elsewhere in nature. Here’s to re-weaving together.