Biting My Tongue

I tend to bite my tongue. And when I say this I mean that I tend to prevent myself from speaking but I also mean that I do it by literally chewing on my tongue as a manner to stay calm when I am distressed. And it was one thing to feel intense discomfort walking the emptied streets of Hebron, facing large groups of soldiers filling spaces where Palestinians are no longer allowed. But that night back in Jerusalem with our group, people who I cherish and among whom I feel safe and valued, I found myself again biting my tongue, refusing the opportunity to say anything as the words I could not find stayed shut behind anxious teeth lined up like so many rusting store fronts in occupied Hebron.

In the past I’ve bitten my tongue enough so that it literally hurts to speak, and this is the vicious circle that comes with silencing myself, with not believing that I have anything of value to say, that I shouldn’t have to ask a question. I have witnessed injustices here and at home and if I don’t learn to speak now it will only become more difficult as my tongue becomes more swollen.

We toured Hebron through a group called Breaking the Slience. Former Israeli soldiers in this organization, like our guide, Avner, provide testimonies and often name the situation as injustice. Their views provide a sense of complexity to the occupation with varied viewpoints and nuances. And I need to know that I can still be taking in new perspectives and determining what I believe each day, but when I see injustice I need to stop biting my tongue and say something, especially when I return to the US.

I move forward with the courage given to me by this group of people who will hold me accountable in Christlike love, who help me to see what it is in this land that is so Holy.

Peace, in Christ,
Natalie

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