I am a mother and this has changed me. When I see a child hurt or worse… dead, I see that child as my child. When I see the mother grieving over the child’s body I feel her pain. It does not matter if she is black or white. Muslim or Christian. My neighbour or a complete stranger. I feel her pain deeply. I think many mothers feel this even if they are like me and usually guard their emotions closely.
During the conflict in Gaza (I say Gaza because majority of deaths on both sides are happening there) I have been seeing things most people would not see in their worst nightmares. I have been scanning the news like a hawk hoping for an end to the misery. I have been reading news from both sides of the media through outlets like, NBC, RT and the ABC in an effort to keep my views balanced but I can’t help myself from becoming passionate. This is not about who is wrong or right but rather about the amount of civilians killed in the conflict.
When the number of those killed surpassed 1000 something changed in me. It was no longer a small conflict but something ending the lives of many innocent people. 1000 is a number I could relate to. 1000 is the number of people that went to my high school. Imagining if all those people were killed and the effect it would have on the people in my community sent a shiver down my body. I could relate.
When the number of deaths was projected to be more than 1500 due to the shelling, lack of healthcare and power shortages causing hospital equipment to no longer work. I could relate. That was the number of people in Brisbane who walked in protest, calling for an end to the conflict. I remember how the crowd marched down the street, stretching more than a block. I imagined if we had all been killed and the feeling of devastation overwhelmed me.
But an unknown feeling came over me when images of children blown to pieces appeared on my Facebook newsfeed. Something inside of me, a maternal instinct perhaps, made the biggest change in me yet. I saw the child as my own. The mother mourning a child was myself mourning that child and the way I related took a whole new level. If I was feeling this way then other mothers would be feeling a similar feeling when viewing these images.
After the bombing of a UN school I felt a new feeling. The feeling of that of a protective mother. I imagined that the families had taken their children to the only place that thought they would be safe. I had imagined that they had huddled there protecting their most precious things on earth, their children. That is what any mother would do. Protect their children at all cost. That is why my emotion changed from despair to anger. I became mother to those children. I felt the need to protect them and I was angry that someone had bombed that place, the only place, where I felt they could be safe.
After the bombing I thought I would see many of my friends protesting on my newsfeed but I was wrong. It wasn’t about who was fighting who, but rather that innocent children sheltering in fear and mothers protecting their children at any cost had been targeted and killed. I was angry at the act and those responsible for it regardless who they were. I was not falling for the justification or the suggestion of human shields. This was a UN shelter and my stomach told me mothers always take their children to the safest place they know.