“The range of what we think and is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”
R.D. Laing

Born to fight

n

Michael was overjoyed to see him. No one had known exactly where Isaac was, or if he was going to make it back. Other young men from the kibbutz had been arriving and disappearing into the war, and it seemed there were questions being asked about the ones who still hadn’t shown up. Maybe not even asked aloud, but implied. These kids had been raised to fight. It was what the Jewish people required, so that what happened before couldn’t happen again. Were they going to do what was expected?

Michael wasn’t just happy to see his son again, he was relieved. He said something that Isaac never forgot, and which he repeated to me in a little kibbutz house a few hundred yards away from where this moment had happened forty-seven years before. He’d repeated the sentence, turning it over in his head, many times. His father said, “I’m so happy you came to the war.”

Isaac loved his father until his death. He keeps a large photograph of him, one he took himself, on the wall. But he never forgot those words—the way his father was willing to sacrifice him, the idea that there were things more important than his only living son. It’s an unsettling story, one of our oldest, from Genesis. If this were a novel, the character of the boy would have to be named Isaac, but in a novel you wouldn’t dare call him that. It would be too much.

… Now he was in the catastrophe, where he belonged.

… There’s a blurry time at the end of a battle when no one’s certain it’s over, and the blurriness can get you killed … the battle is over only when you’re sure that all the enemy soldiers are dead.

Matti Friedman – Who By Fire – Leonard Cohen in the Sinai

i was born into this … into an embattled people
my parents tried to take me away from it … but were drawn back into it
i was raised to become this way … but it didn’t take
it seems I was born to not fight
for a long time, I fought fighting
until I awoke to the irony
reflecting now on this sheds yet another light on my aloneness
even as an adult I still get uncomfortable around two other adults fighting
I check to make sure that it doesn’t have anything to do with me
only to find it doesn’t matter … I am deeply disturbed by fighting
my father is a fierce fighter

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