The Common Good

Gaza: 'Enough of Blood and Tears. Enough!'

Why do we value blood and tears so cheap? Is it because we all own them? When we grieve the various losses that life brings to us, the tears seem to flow from some inexhaustible source. The well is deep and does not run dry until time and grace help us to see glistening possibilities through the tear that signals surcease. A pause until the next time for tears comes. Do we value blood cheap because it courses through our fragile bodies and even the thin edge of a single piece of paper can cause drops to drip and to remind us that we are mortal?

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Blood and tears are powerful substances of great worth. They know no nation, ethnicity, class, religion, or historical time.

Blood and tears are the stuff of body and soul. When we spill blood and tears through the extreme violence of war, we are willing to violate human bodies and souls to make a death-dealing bargain for some end. We value the end higher than the blood and tears, higher than the damage and destruction to bodies and souls. People in power, on one side or the other of a conflict, tell us that we must make the sacrifice for the sake of peace. They tell us that death is necessary for peace.

This is a profound deception.

Blood and tears cannot bring peace. Blood and tears feed hatred, vengeance, and the will to power. Blood and tears harden to concrete hardness a resolve to resist the person, nation, ideology, religion that perpetrates, allows, explains, blesses the violence that we perceive causes our own blood and tears to flow. Blood and tears blind us to the kinship of humanity. Peace retreats. It cannot break the walls of resistance.

To bring peace, humankind ought to value blood and tears more highly, more dearly. They ought to become as precious jewels that we do not want to spill or spend for any goal other than for life itself. When we are told that rockets ought to launch to keep an enemy wary, we ought to value the blood and tears of the enemy enough to say the cost is too high and the goal unachievable.

When we are told that bombs must fly and fall in densely populated areas to weaken a terrorist organization, we ought to say that the blood and tears of the innocent as well as those of the terrorists are too high a price to pay. When our own government dithers, equivocates, and abstains from a resolution to call for a cease-fire, we ought to say that every tear and every drop of blood leads to the moral bankruptcy of all of humankind.

The late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said: "Enough of blood and tears. Enough!" Let us echo that demand and value human blood and tears too precious to be shed through war.

Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.

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