Well, after all, just how much attention does a story deserve when it's published on the day after Thanksgiving? That's when the "news" is filled with predictable reports of excess. Insane shoppers resorting to fisticuffs. Rejoicing retailers commenting for cameras. And there are games to watch, beer to quaff, leftovers to consume.
Perhaps the narrative flipped through your consciousness, floated on your eyeballs for a second or two? If so, you probably didn't pay much attention. You had other priorities. We all did. It really wasn't something we wanted to deal with in the midst of celebrating a four-day weekend.
Here's how it went: On November 23 in Gaza, Fatima Omar Mahmud al-Najar strapped on a suicide belt and blew herself up. She was the mother of nine and grandmother to 40 (or maybe 45, depending on which report you read).
A grandmother. We have to ask -- why?
Her daughter reported (according to the New York Times) that one grandson had been killed, another "was in a wheelchair with an amputated leg" and her "house had been destroyed."
"'She and I went to the mosque,' [the daughter] told reporters. 'We were looking for martyrdom.'"
The details are heartbreakingly interchangeable now: the wheres, the whys and the loops of devastation, hatred and revenge. Lives without hope.
Except this time it was a grandmother.
I try to imagine her desperation. I can't. Maybe more to the point, I don't want to know what that much pain feels like. But we have a duty (I believe) to witness that she was here and that now she isn't. And why.
Do you know about the law of the sea for international waters? It's that everyone helps everyone else. When one boat is in trouble, the boat nearest will hurry to assist. Ah, you may be thinking, what's the big deal about that? Don't most people give a helping hand when they can?
Yes, I hope so. But obeying the law of the sea can sometimes require quite a serious commitment. If your boat is sinking and I'm the closest one, I must turn around and head back into the hurricane to try to rescue you. It's my obligation to help -- and not just in fair weather.
Fatima Omar Mahmud al-Najar was only one of the little boats we lost in November. Any idea how many boats near you are in trouble?
(c) Copyright Jane Allen. All rights reserved. U.S. Library of Congress ISSN: 1534-178X. Water Wings for Success 2006-12.