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Why I Hate Rachel Corrie

Rachel Corrie was nothing like me.  If I’d met her, I’d probably not like her.  She would be one of those super-focused, always nice, willing to drop anything for you people.  They annoy me.  Mainly because they portray a level of selflessness and genuine concern of world events that I never do.  They feel their direct actions against an imposing force will make a difference, something I never do.  They believe in social justice, something I barely do.  While I like social justice – helping others? Sure, that sounds biblical – my execution certainly lacks behind my concepts.  I have an array of excuses I could use. I’ve struggled adapting from an inadvertent exposure of fundamentalist Christianity to a worldview that can only be described as “lib’ral” (the fundie part not because of my parents, but from attending events like Acquire The Fire and hearing Jerry Falwell speak).  When you see and try to live in a culture that embraces punishment for stepping outside the norm, it’s hard to convince yourself to help without preconditions.  Or I could mention how my one little action won’t affect change halfway around the world.   I could blame a lot of things for jamming me into neutral on social justice, but inevitably it comes back to me, and that’s why I hate Rachel Corrie.

Rachel Corrie did something.  Took a direct stance against an injustice.  She saw people having their house bulldozed, and decided to stand in front of the tanks and bulldozers to make them stop.  That takes balls, and Rachel Corrie had bigger balls than me.  And that’s why I hate Rachel Corrie.  When you see someone who is a better person than you are, or worse the kind of person you want to be you do one of two thing: (1) turn them into demigods or (2) mock them until you feel better about yourself.  (2) works wonders because you can put them on the same level of people that really get on your nerves.  If you turn them into demigods, you’re forced to accept how far off the mark you really are.  That hurts a little more, that’s why we usually save those for the people we never have any contact with, the celebrity philanthropist, and we kindly reassure ourselves if we had their money we do the same.

Rachel was 24, a college student, with no money.  She did a lot of things: took a year off of school to volunteer for the Washington Conservation Corp, established a pen-pal program between her hometown of Olympia, Washington to Rafah, and visited patients with mental disorders for 3-years.  Then she went to Palestine and stood in front of tanks and bulldozer, and got killed in the process.  It’s not like she woke up one day and said “hey, something wrong is happening half-way around the world”, but she worked up to that point by helping out locally.  For Rachel, social justice wasn’t a nebulous concept that exists only in the boroughs and neighborhoods foreign countries, but an actual attainable concept down the street from her.  When someone the same age as me, who went to college like me, and probably had a similar source of income as me (that is, none) does all that and decides that they really need to go over to Palestine and stand in front of a tank, it hits home.  Not in a “oh this could happen to me” way, but “seriously, what the hell am I doing with my days?  Reviewing movies?”  No matter what category I fit Rachel into that thought still will sit with me.  I could make her a demigod, but she was no different than me, and you can’t mock someone who died for their beliefs and feel good about yourself.

I really can’t hate Rachel, she hasn’t done anything that I can’t.  I live near countless volunteer activities, with organizations practically begging for people to help out.  I actually have to realize something that clicked with Rachel early on: social justice isn’t a vague nebulous concept that exists across the world, but something that can happen down the street from me and then grows globally.  It’s an achievable goal, and something that can’t be readily ignored.  That’s why I hate Rachel, she made me realize that taking action is easier than it seems.

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