Ziv Shilon is the stuff the legends are made from. He is just a normal Israeli guy but in Israel, the extraordinary is common. Anywhere else he would be a legend.
Ziv’s wife, Adi is a very special woman too. She is less outspoken, less public than Ziv but it is she who helps be who he is today – his terrible injury did not scare her away, together they face the challenges of life and seem to conquer every one with grace and positivity.
Their first daughter Shira was born an albino, a condition that, in addition to making the child look unusual, also creates health issues. Instead of being devastated, the Shilon’s decided to turn the situation into an opportunity. They chose to emphasize their daughter’s beauty, understanding that raising awareness regarding albinism would benefit other families like their own but it would also help create a society more tolerant and understanding of all differences.
When I talk or write about Inspiration from Zion I mean people like Ziv and Adi Shilon. They do not tell people how to live or what to do. They teach by their own example. By action, not words.
It is easy to say: “Never give up!” but how many people actually live that idea? It is easy to say: “Turn lemons into lemonade” but how many people actually do?
On October 17th Ziv posted an announcement that made me think of the stories I hear from America of all the wounded warriors who come home and feel hopeless. I thought of the sickeningly high numbers of American veterans who commit suicide because they lose sight of reasons to keep on living. [Interestingly PTSD is much less prevalent in Israeli veterans]. I thought of all the people who feel overwhelmed with their problems, whatever they might be – cancer, abuse, financial issues… any number of issues can drive people to consider whether it is worth living through such difficulties…
Ziv’s message is simple. The accompanying image is one of the most beautiful, most powerful I have ever seen.
This is what power looks like. More importantly, this is what HOPE looks like and there is always hope.
This is my translation to English of what Ziv wrote (originally in Hebrew):
“Five years ago, minus one week, I arrived here at Soroka Medical Center on my deathbed, in a helicopter from the Gaza Strip, after an explosive device ripped off both my hands.
God granted me life when he gave me the strength of body and mind to run hundreds of meters, in a burnt body, with hands ripped to shreds, from the border fence to my crew.
God granted me a life by placing Nir and Sami with me. They stabilized my condition.
God granted me life when he sent me the hospital doctors, the best of the best, to save my life that morning.
God granted me life in the amazing family that has enveloped me ever since and to this day.
Today, five years later, I returned to Soroka, again to receive life, but this time it is I who am accompanying my wife, a hero in her own right and in much better circumstances.
Today God chose to grant me new life in the birth of our new and amazing son.
A brother to Shira, who bringing me full circle, provides me with more proof why it is worth fighting to live.”
I bring you these words with a request:
Next time you feel hopeless, for whatever reason, think of Ziv.
Inspiration from Zion is not just for Jews or even for people who care about Israel. Inspiration from Zion is for people who need hope.
Next time you feel hopeless, think of Ziv. If he can do it, you can too.