This is a guest post by one the participants in our current Learning Lab which is now in our third month of study in our Understanding Phase and moving toward our Exposure Phase on the ground in Israel/Palestine next month. Mikaela McGee is an academic, learner and one who sees and reflects beauty in her everyday life.
“To travel is to live” – Hans Christian Andersen
It is hard to believe that in a matter of weeks I will be getting on a plane to begin my journey to Israel/Palestine. Though, really, this journey began months ago through the Understanding Phase ofThe Global Immersion Project. My knowledge of this conflict was fairly limited coming into this experience. I knew and understood the Israeli side of the conflict, my heart breaking for these people with no home, no safe place to go after the Holocaust. But I had somehow disregarded the Palestinians, without even realizing it. In preparing for this trip, I have been studying this conflict through a brand new perspective: one that includes both sides. Throughout the Understanding Phase, we have read books, seen documentaries, and heard stories told by both Israelis and Palestinians.
As if my heart didn’t break enough for the people in that region of the world before, it began to feel crushed with the pain of these Palestinians who had been kicked out of their land so that the Jews could have a place to call home. For the first time, I saw that the people of Palestine, who had once lived in peace with their Jewish neighbors, as victims of this same conflict. The documentaries showed children growing up on either side of the walls that have been built to separate Israel from Palestinian territories. These children are being raised in the midst of this violent conflict, quite possibly with no real escape. It pains me to think that they may never know or experience peace in their lifetimes.
And yet, I find hope in the knowledge that there are everyday peacemakers in both Israel and Palestine seeking the common good. Through understanding both sides of the conflict, my eyes have been opened to the great importance of pursuing a peaceful solution to this conflict. There are many different ways to go about this, as I am learning through some of our texts and lectures about peacemaking and conflict resolution, and I look forward to meeting and talking with some of the peacemakers on the ground in Israel/Palestine.
Processing this conflict has not been an easy journey, but it has been incredibly necessary, useful and insightful. I feel like I have already shifted my perspective on how I approach conflict in my own life; I can only imagine how much more my heart will be impacted and changed by spending time with the people living in the midst of this conflict.
Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I continue this journey of becoming more knowledgeable, compassionate, and humble, that I might be refined into an everyday peacemaker.