A Birth in Gaza

To those unknowing of my childhood my enigmatic and disconnected behaviour must have seemed odd and possibly uncivilised. In youth I could not see beyond getting by and surviving day by day; ‘learning’ was another country where less damaged people lived. I was busy trying to fly that alien craft I was to discover was myself. Sometime after youth I became aware I was a bruise, and every touch hurt me: intimacy, my most desired wish remained my deepest fear. In time, looking around me I saw that everyone has their bruises, and understood like me, that to a greater or lesser extent our limping and imperfect journey to a fog-bound destination was marked by the need for self-protection. Those marks, invisible to the naked eye, were our unspoken history, not recorded in those smiling photographs taken on the beach, sitting beside the man who abused you when the lights went out, or worked his cruelty deep into your soul. The mother who neglected you, so lost was she in her search for “thought perfection.”

When I was young, I grew the emotions which controlled my later life to protect what was left of my capacity to love and wonder; I had no sense of why they ruled me, or the powerful fears which gave them birth. I was secretive, enigmatic and obtuse; politely non-committal and clinging to my secret knowledge that danger has a presence everywhere. I wandered round bewildered and uncomprehending in a private landscape, armed only with a map written in secret code, trying to reach that place I called “The Other Side.” The “Other Side” was nowhere but a dream: a place or person who might offer me sanctuary and the space and peace to discover who I was.

Now in the knowledge of what such childhoods yield in later years, I look in bewildered incomprehension on that landscape of inhumanity which is the modern Gaza and wonder how the children sitting in that place, in bombed out UN shelters, might grow to adulthood and shape their lives. What maps their young minds might be drawing as I write this, to use in later years from which to navigate their future. Horror begets horror, we all know, and hatred breed hatred year on year. We dehumanise our enemies, war after war, until triumphant Hatred rises gloriously from the ruins to shout out his brave re-emergence in this, our modern landscape.

We, with our knowledge of conflict and human history; of the consequences of trauma in our lives, watch these children cry, and wonder how, out of sight of some new skyscraper, now the tallest building in the planet, we manage with every generation, to construct a new hell on earth.



About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, childhood, community, Environment, faith, Middle East, Peter Wells, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to A Birth in Gaza

  1. ksbeth says:

    this was so sad and beautiful and well-written, peter. i am so sorry for all you have endured and for what the children in gaza and other places in the world are enduring right now. why do people not think nor care what happens to them? it makes me cry just to imagine it.


  2. catterel says:

    Too many tears, too much pain beyond screaming – you are right, Hatred seems to triumph, breeding horror and vengeance, while we remain paralysed and helpless.


  3. As the snow flies/ On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’/ A poor little baby child is born/ In the ghetto…

    Peter – your pen is becoming a powerful tool. As much as I love your stories and hope that both your blogging and your novels continue long into the future, I also hear a voice that may one day be part of a change. To touch even one life…to save even one child.


  4. Exceedingly powerful, Peter. I am greatly moved by your ability to describe your own appalling childhood in the way you do and to picture the hideous mental wounds that are affecting those in Gaza and around the world as we speak. I despair at the hatred and misery the world over.


  5. Eliza says:

    Beautifully written. Very powerful and poetic. Imagery is strong and I read it twice just to absorb it.

    I think sometimes hatred is born of pain, but sometimes beauty and some of those children, inspite of the atrocities inflicted on them, will grow and become a powerful force for good change.


    • That is very well said. The paradox is that Hatred cannot quench Hatred: only Love can do that. The same experience can make one man bitter and the other wise, and let us pray that, for some people at least,, a little wisdom comes from this situation


  6. desertrose7 says:

    My hope is for what Eliza said.


  7. backonmyown says:

    Your poetic prose astounds me every time. And your messages get more urgent and pleading with each post. You and I had hellish childhoods yet mine cannot compare with the hell the children of Gaza must endure. The insanity of it all is incomprehensible.


  8. Reblogged this on First Night Design and commented:
    Following on from my previous re-blog about war from Order of Truth, I offer this piece by Peter Wells of Counting Ducks, which provides a powerful statement about the horrors of war and the mental scars that follow.


  9. Truly a beautiful and heart rendering piece!


  10. Thank you. A superb piece.


  11. Caroline says:

    We are custodians of this planet and custodians of each other. If we continue as we are we will destroy ourselves then the planet can breathe a sigh of relief and recover.


  12. I too have pictures with a mother who cut so deep that even decades later I still awake to find myself bleeding. I too wonder how the children of conflict will fair in years to come, I only hope that they are given the chance to grow and find out. I found your work both heartbreaking and beautifully written. You have a truly remarkable way with words, thank you for sharing so wonderfully the incredible blessing that comes out of all you are and all you have endured.


  13. A very powerful piece of writing Peter, as powerful as the birth you refer to in your piece and I am certain you have spoken for all of us here. A little injured 8 year old girl on the news this minute is heard saying “we were sheltering in a classroom,what have we to do with this?” And the baby born from a dead mother has died five days old. The people doing this cannot be human surely, I feel sick


    • It genuinely is a hell on earth for these poor people. Beyond horrific


      • Jerry grant says:

        Very late entry ..but I must put a light on your poignant piece on gaza…these poor folks are victims of their rabid leaders,much as the people were in Dresden and Hiroshima…these demented Islamic killers chose to inflict the pain and suffering on their population for political gain and to turn good folks such as yourself to their side..how can you not see this?


  14. Thank you for writing this from your experience, but also your heart and soul and sense of understanding of the horrors that are being bred to continue, Peter. I cannot comprehend how so much violence, especially as it is affecting the most innocent among us, continues (even within the US – shootings that kill children in what was once considered a safe place here: school. And, yet, what is the only ‘remedy’ anyone can come up with? Arm the teachers.). The only way for it to stop, is for it to stop. Full stop. Vengeance, violence, victory. They all spell unnecessary suffering and humans killing other humans. Why is it not understood – as one destroys one will be destroyed? Let us send the children a little piece of hope, though, that among them, despite the hell they’re living in, peacemakers will emerge.


  15. gwpj says:

    Thank you for penning this beautiful piece, Peter. I have so many tears for what is happening in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israel itself re the Palestinian people that I sometimes don’t know what to do. The silence from my country’s political “leadership” sickens me. Peacemakers are emerging, though are being fiercely resisted. Again, Peter, thank you for your words.


  16. chirri says:

    This one is brilliant Peter – Chirri


  17. Movingly written. One fears for what we instill in our children, and how the cycle of intollerance and hatred is perpetuated.


  18. whimseytopia says:

    How much can you say in a “reply?” If I start, I probably won’t stop. But allow me this… Gaza is everywhere, in every corner of this world, in every country, in every city, on every street. Shrapnel is hot metal, hunger, fits of rage, sexual abuse, searing words of hate, and isolation. We breed those who are doing this, and I for one have no idea how to stop the carnage. But I have a real good idea how it started.

    Your writing provokes and astounds me. You have a gift. You are a gift. I’ll be back. Patsye


    • Thank you very much for your comment, and the truths contained within it. Sometimes there seems more room for hope than despair, and sometimes it is the other way round. Currently I am filled with something like horror and foreboding, but also sadness at the waste of lives and damage to humanity we are witnessing on so many levels.


  19. **Hell On Earth**
    I cannot think of 3 words to describe this unimaginable horror in our world better than that,



  20. Nothing about humans is fixed or for sure. Yes, we tend to repeat what we know, but we sometimes understand that we aren’t slaves to patterns. When we become aware that we have a choice not to hate but to forgive, we are no longer victims; we are liberated from our own repression. I have to believe that at least some of us have that awareness in us. Otherwise, we will implode on each other.


  21. gotham girl says:

    So well written…so well said. Couldn’t agree more. Yes, Hell on Earth.


  22. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    As we watch the violence unfolding on our screens and in the media it is impossible to imagine the agonies, terror and hopelessness that the individuals are suffering – we tend to get the ‘big picture’. This excellent piece by Counting Ducks takes it to a different level – we all have our pasts that have shaped us but what of the babies and young children facing their terror today – how will it shape them. A Birth in Gaza.


  23. elainecanham says:

    Wow, Peter, thank you. That was so thought provoking and touching.


  24. r e douville says:

    With you all the way. One side or the other will start in with ‘they did this and this and this’… One side has all the power right now and is inflicting egregious wounds that reach beyond the death of one or even many. Scars are etched into minds.

    I’ve earned some scars along the way, but one thing I try and do… stand and be counted, speak up and share, leave a shoulder out for those in need, and in sum, help achieve a change such that those of the next generation do not endure what I’ve experienced.

    The Middle East, the whole of it, needs a dose of compassion projection, forward looking, thinking of the next generation. Do we wish to dump this mess on them, leave them to war upon one another? Do we wish to teach hate? Or, can we recognise equal culpability and say, ‘no more’?

    I’ve been watching since the Six Day War 47 years ago, and I’ve yet to see a critical mass of people there say, ‘enough’.


  25. Powerfully written. Bravo!


  26. restlessjo says:

    We all hate it, Peter, but we sit immobilised as it goes on and on. Trying not to look. Trying not to know. You write far too knowingly of pain.


  27. sheketechad says:

    Reblogged this on Sunflower Solace Farm and commented:
    As a general rule, I don’t talk about my faith – on my blog, in my 3D life, or really even to most of my friends, as their beliefs differ from mine.  I truly am the ‘co-exist’ person.  My faith does not call on me to proselytize; it does not have the burden that everyone else must believe as I do; I try to value people as they are, without adding the burden of expectations upon them.  As a result, the bedrock of my beliefs is often at great odds in the world that I inhabit. I am careful and considerate of other’s beliefs, or their choice to not believe. I don’t always receive the same in kind, but I try to look at where that person is coming from and use that to filter – their perspective, in other words. 

    Across every fence, every line that can be drawn, in thought and in action, there is another human being. 

    As a Torah keeper (best one can be outside of the land it was designed for), I am at odds with every other faith and non-faith on the planet, even Judaism, the closest cousin and most recognizable in similarities.  I’ve not stated my thoughts on Gaza and Israel because, well, I’d offend probably nearly everyone and stymie those that I didn’t offend. A good friend referred me to this blog post, and I will say more by posting their words than by burdening you with my own. It is their perspective I’d like to bring to you today:


  28. It pains me every time I see another news report about some war zone where the innocent have been caught in the crossfire. When will we abandon these ancient wounds and hatreds and step into the light? If they must insist on fighting, draw a line against killing innocent women and children….


  29. I so agree with you, and I really appreciate you commentating here. What I dream of is some Ghandi like figure to emerge and make the plight of the disadvantaged powerfully evident with all the killing, cruelty and prejudice. As of now we have two extremist points of view, refusing to compromise and willing for any consequence as long as they don’t lose face at the negotiating table. It is an enormous tragedy


  30. Very moving piece, Peter. The title drew me in immediately. I am pained and saddened by the atrocities being committed in many parts of the world today; especially against women and children. Many thanks for visiting my blog and for the like. I will be back to visit.


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