My friend, Rachel, is a psycho-therapist specialising in traumas. She used to work primarily with Holocaust survivors and now she trains people who work with children who have been traumatised by the constant wars and acts of terror waged against Israel, the latest being the War in the North http://www.paulasays.com/articles/war_on_two_fronts/War_North.html.
In addition, she still has patients who were witnesses of the Moriah number 37 bus suicide bomb outrage http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2004/1/Suicide%20bombing%20of%20Egged%20bus%20No%2037%20in%20Haifa%20-%205-Ma, in which school children were the prime victims http://www.yairgil.com/haifa030305-start.htm. The Moriah area is just up the road from me http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200303/06/print20030306_112783.html. I pass the place of the explosion practically every day and the no. 37 bus is the one I take most frequently, if you don't count the 46 which goes in the other direction, directly down to the sea and central bus/train stations (which recently got a plug in the Jewish Chronicle. Thanks, JC, for putting Haifa well and truly on the map, and the station and railway are every bit as good as you said it was) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haifa.
So on Friday, Rachel came to visit me and asked for help with the English in a book dealing with traumas in children and how to cope. She will be using this material in various workshops round the country.
Much of the therapy is apparently carried out by the use of fairy tales. And so we had the one about the dragon http://blackdrago.com/word.htm who terrorised a country so much that no one dared set foot outside their door, till a knight in shining white armour http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20010328 rode through the land and was immediately enlisted to help the inhabitants of this country slay the dragon. (Incidentally, I also told her the myth about the naming of the 'sirloin' steak' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirloin).
The problem was that, quite frankly, our knight wasn't up to the job, so he was given quite a lot of help himself in order to assist the country at need. A few episodes of communal enteriprise and collective hard work later, all was at peace, as the dragon had been slain and then the neighbouring countries also started to take a great interest in the initiatives undertaken, wanting to follow suit.
So when I had explained 'knight' and 'shining armour' and 'forest clearing' and various other difficult concepts, I asked Rachel if all these explanations had been of use. And her answer led me to believe two things:
a) what a waste that the lessons of the Holocaust have not been learned by the international community, which continues to sit idly by whilst maniacs want to destroy us yet again, so that psycho-therapists in Israel can't just concentrate on your normal everyday stuff such as sibling rivalry, marriage breakdown, etc etc.
b) what an honour it is to be here and to be regarded as part of the solution, whereas in Britain we were generally regarded (with notable exceptions) as part of the problem. This is just the latest incident from lovely old Bolton, where I had the pleasure of teaching exactly 10 years ago, and where one of the sweet little Muslim pupils, on finding out from a third party that I was Jewish, remarked that it was a great pity that Hitler hadn't finished the job, and drew a picture of a pig in an oven to prove it !!!
As for knights in shining armour, I have encountered one or two of these myself in the last month - people who have been altruistic, patient and frankly, wonderful. When I think of what Israel and Israelis have to put up with on a daily basis - when it isn't an actual war or act of terror - most of the world's media makes up for this with a vengeance, and yet there are still quite exceptional people around who have the gift of understanding.
And to deal with these particular dragons takes a great deal of time and patience. Because the last thing we want is to succumb to a siege mentality. Rather, we should be facing up to our dragons, however, deep and inbedded they might be, with faith, courage and humility.
And I don't think in all my years of teaching that I have ever learned as much as I learned from Rachel yesterday.