All across the world, we are seeing unprecedented ideology contributing to a sense of unrelenting chaos. Whether it’s the bombing of a subway car in London, the continued fight against ISIS in the Middle East, a religious freedom war in Myanmar, or the nationalism gripping America; theres just a sense of pessimism that we ever get back to ‘normal.’
Each time a country votes in a leader using fear mongering and promises to one crowd over another, I get a gut reaction now that moves me to sigh in deep frustration Here we Go Again.
Today, I sit on the shores of the Sea of Galilee watching the sun rise in a land of emended turmoil. To the north lies Lebanon. The the Northwest is Syria, a land under a long civil war. To the east, Jordan, one of my favorite countries in the world, and peppered among this landscape is the West Bank and Gaza, the home to Millions of Palestinians who happen to be land locked.
Each country has it’s own story, but if we take a 50K foot fly-by, there’s an over arching banner of tribalism still permeating the hearts of humans in these lands.
We’re right – They’re wrong.
We were here first.
Access to resources is our right – no matter the cost.
Our God is the real God.
All these sentiments seem to produce a culture where someone has the natural “right” while the other obviously is subservient to the first.
This morning I’m pressing in on the idea that we’re all really just human beings trying to find ourselves in this world.
I sat with a Palestinian man who told me his families stories all while showing me pictures of his kids on his iPhone.
I sat with a Jewish man getting ready to celebrate the New Year of Rosh Hashanah sharing the beauty of his religious views.
I sat with a man who had no religious affiliation, just trying to make a living.
And I sat with friends on the forefront of helping a culture understand how to heal and reconcile with their neighbors and their enemies.
Even though there’s a survival mechanism in our minds to take care of ourselves first and secondly – those around us who we care deeply for; we’re all really just in this world together. We have the same wants. We desire the same prosperous lifestyle. We want to experience the freedom of self determination. We want to live the way we want to live.
Of course we have differing ideas, differing politics, and different religious affiliation, but wouldn’t it better us all to recognize the commonalities in the face of our labeled extremism?
I’m often accused of living in an optimistic/utopian universe where everyone would serve the needs of his or her fellow mankind, but what if we took a step towards seeing the good in others, instead of focusing on the conflict?
This last week, I went to visit an Imam friend at the Mosque of Omar in Bethlehem. He told me the stories of a time when Jews, Christians, and Muslims all lived side by side. Each holiday was celebrated by the other two as the communities recognized the needs of the other.
As I sat listening, I couldn’t help but wonder, what got us to the place where everyone is perceived as enemy, instead of the opposite? How did we get here? And how do we forge ahead to develop a world where we can all celebrate together?
In any event, the work here in the Holy Land is one I’ve taken as a personal duty. To love the other in the face of adversity is a stance I’ll try to continue to embrace. And hopefully, there are enough of “us” out there who can stand up and be counted.