Sunday, 4 May 2008

Let Me Stand Alone

Rachel Corrie was flattened by an Israeli bulldozer whilst trying to protect the homes of Palestinian civilians in 2003.  Her emails to her family back home in Olympia, Washington State were published in The Guardian soon after her death.  The play "My Name is Rachel Corrie", directed by Alan Rickman, was shown in London in 2005.  I first learnt about her life in The Observer Magazine in early March 2008.  I quickly ordered her book eager to learn more about her work in Palestine up until her death.  As I started reading the book compiled from scraps of writing, as a child and during her teens and early twenties, I realised there was more to her than what eventually made her well known.

Growing up in the leafy town of Olympia she had a conscience more sophisticated than a usual child, aged 11 she writes:
 "Maybe if people stopped thinking of themselves, and started thinking of the other sides of things, people wouldn't hurt each other."  It was this philosophy that eventually led to her work as an activist in her home town and finally as an ISM volunteer in the Gaza Strip.

The book is not centered around her work in Palestine but rather her development as a person; it documents, in all her own writings, her love of nature, her family, her school and university life and her friends.  Her writing appears sometimes as poems, as stories or letters to the ones she loved, but all time with a lively spirit.  Even with no interest in the conflict in the Middle East this book is a captivating insight into the life of an American girl, from a country which so often seems insular and selfish.

Rachel Corrie gave the people of Palestine hope that they would see an end to the fierce war in their homeland.  She has given me hope that, no matter where in the world you live, whatever media you are influenced by or political leanings you have, you can connect with the injustice and the strife of the Palestinian people and we can all do something to help.

"Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie" published by Granta Books.

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