3rd Week of Advent: Sumoud, Patient Resistance

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The light shining in the darkness, that cannot be overcome

Isaiah 35:1-10, Psalm 146:5-10, Luke 1:46b-55, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11

This Sunday’s lessons remind us that God’s nature is justice. In that sense, God has already lifted up the lowly. God has already brought down the powerful from their thrones. Signs of God’s activity are everywhere, as in Isaiah’s vision of the transformation of the land. “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God!’” Yet the vision is incomplete. We are like farmers—we must learn to wait.

As Palestinians, our waiting is not passive.  It requires sumoud—steadfastness and resistance. To have sumoud or to be samideen means, with great pride, to remain steadfast—such as steadfast in the commitment to our homeland and to the struggle for freedom.

What is it for any of us to have sumoud? It is a form of inner strength and resilience to continue waking up every morning with the determination to carry on with one’s daily routine while holding fast to one’s humanity, in spite of the challenges and dangers surrounding us. For example, in the face of obstacles which impede our movement, we walk through military checkpoints to get to work; drive our children past army tanks to get to school; take our herds out to graze despite physical and verbal abuse from Israeli settlers. To do all this is to have sumoud.

Sumoud takes on communal power when it is rooted in an entire way of life—a life committed to overcoming the unbearable. On an almost daily basis, in villages and cities, sumoud is evidenced in nonviolent demonstrations that are taking place to resist the Wall whose path is confiscating lands, splitting villages, and destroying economic and social structures. Sumoud is demonstrated by the villagers, forcibly expelled from their ancestral lands by settlers, continuing to demand being treated as human beings with equal rights. Sumoud is continually demonstrated by the people of Gaza, who have remained there though for over ten years they have endured a brutal siege.

Inspired by such examples, we must also learn to be steadfast in our work together, forming communities of hope in practice. We cannot live a day without saying “yes” or “no” for death or for life, for war or for peace. The choice is ours. To postpone, compromise, or evade the decision is to decide. There is no compromise; there is no escape. This is the challenge and charge to all who are disciples of the Prince of Peace.

Queries

When have you experienced the power to resist over the long haul? What was your sense of the source of that power?

What might help you be more committed, and more able to take risks, in saying “yes” to life, peace, and justice, and “no” to death, war, and injustice?

-Jean Zaru, ed. Helene Pollock

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