Is Peace Even Possible?

August 29, 2013

Everyday Peacemaking, Exposure Phase, Israel/Palestine, Just Peacemaking, Learning Lab, Reconciliation, Uncategorized

We live in a world caught in a dangerous cycle of deception and abuse where the preferred stories are the violent ones.  The benefit to these stories being told is that, even while many of us choose to remain idle, none of us can claim ignorance to the tragic realities of injustice that are robbing the dignity of human beings here, near, & far.

However, with such a steady diet of gruesome narratives that so expertly expose the dark side of humanity, we’re left to wonder, “Is peace even possible?”

Through our work with international everyday peacemakers, we’re uncovering stories of hope that leave us both undone, inspired, and equipped to live similar stories.  Here’s one such story:

Shaul was born and raised in a conservative Yeshiva in Seattle, WA.  Having found himself in the Holy Land for the first time, he discovered a deep resonance with his experience of being Jewish while on the soil of his ancestors.  So he remained there, and, like so many other young idealists, found himself living in a settlement within the West Bank.

True to his tradition, Shaul found himself under the guidance of Rabbi Menachem Froman, of blessed memory, who was and is known for his reconciliatory work between the Jewish and Isalmic faiths.  Slowly, Shaul began to see the ugliness of the divide between Israelis and Palestinians and understand the cost of peacemaking.

Then, one day, two teenagers from his settlement ambushed a taxi that carried a Palestinian family.  Everyone in the taxi was burned beyond recognition.

There is ancient custom that says when tragedy strikes, the elders of the offending village go to the offended and claim personal responsibility.  Rather than experiencing this, Shaul watched as his settlement denied any knowledge of wrongdoing while quietly celebrating the pain caused their Palestinian neighbors at the hands of their own.

For Shaul, this was unacceptable.

In the days that followed, he invited a couple of his friends to journey from their settlement to the Palestinian village of the family who had been burned.  With unspeakable courage, they made their way to the hospital, even entering the room where the family members had convened to nurse their loved ones back to health.

“This is my responsibility.  This is on me.  I’ll make it right.”

These were the words of our friend, Shaul, as he enacted the ancient custom himself on behalf of his people.

Can you imagine that moment?  From the Palestinian perspective, Israeli settlers had just done “this” to our loved ones…and in walked three Israeli settlers.  From the settlers’ perspective, people who look just like us were responsible for “this”…yet walk in they did.  And because they did, a relationship was born and reconciliation was suddenly a possibility.

As our Learning Community sat with Shaul in a community garden in Jerusalem, we learned that everyday peacemaking begins with seeing the plight and pain of another, allowing ourselves to be moved with compassion for them, and, ultimately, turning not from, but toward them in an effort to participate in their restoration.  We also discovered the cost of everyday peacemaking: in order to see, immerse, contend, & restore, we must first lay down our allegiance to our own agendas, safety, & reputation.

In a world saturated in stories of pain that leave us hopeless, we choose to narrate grass-root stories of hope.

Join us in waging peace.

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