Leaning Towards Ruin

Leaning Towards Ruin

Written by Klint Kratzer, 2015 Middle East: Behind the Headlines

It is an ancient city – constructed and captured, besieged and plundered, ruined and rebuilt – this is the cycle of Jerusalem. The wax and the wane of extremists and fanatics, pacifists and tyrants, Israelis and Philistines. Its madness is as far reaching as its allure; its serpentine streets as tacit as its unknown histories. I came here enticed by its enigma. And from what I can reason, this is a city leaning towards ruin.

Fanaticism thrives in the streets of Jerusalem; it seems innate in its inhabitants, as if the air itself were hallucinatory and crazed. At times I feel the need to hold my breath, to distance myself from the miasma of the myopic, the disease of the closed-minded. The orthodox who parade themselves in cloaks and costumes of obsolescence, the judging eye of the self-elect, a community of exiled Europeans still trying to find a stance in ‘a land without a people for a people without a land.’

1948 consummated an endless debate – a debate with blood at its foundations and, I believe, blood in its resolve. If only we could eradicate this land’s history, absolve our memories of its inglorious pasts. Both sides have their narrative and use it with scorn against the other. Paranoia is rampant here: the wistful and deranged stare of a mind lost in a swirling memory of holocaust, wandering over a foreign people with distrust and ignorance. And a people on the defense, conquered and beaten down, occupied and stripped, obstinate and unwieldy yet unpredictable and suicidal. This land does not know peace; it is as foreign as its origin. This is a place where chaos thrives; what some mistake as an entrance to heaven I see as a fissure of hell. It is the clash of cosmos and chaos, east and west. If it is the origin then it will also be the end.

Okay – prophecy aside – the reality here is the only way peace is possible is through the absolution of the past and an unguarded approach towards the future. Only when these two cultures can forget their shared history and quit glaring at one another’s differences, if they can recognize that we are all human beings that deserve basic rights, will the conflict be resolved.

Could we do it? Can humanity forget its past? What if we obliterated our histories? For a better future, I say! Let us erase it all! All wars and loves, Homer and Twain, Bach and Matisse, manners and perceptions, America and the Orient, the Crusades and the Holocaust, Pizarro and the Incan, the individual and the family, Moloch, Allah and Yahweh! Let us throw it all in the abysmal cauldron of human annihilation. Then could we see each other as human again? Could we no longer hide behind religions and race, behind our fears and hate? In this divided Jerusalem, I think it is yet another phase. I think the cycle reigns.