A Dreamer’s Dream for Justice and Peace

I can only imagine that each of us is processing what is going on in the Holy Land differently. I wrote these two related thoughts down to help myself through it. And hopefully this may help others as well.

A SECULAR (in the positive sense of the word!) VIEW:

Hamas should be brought to justice. And.

And the government of Israel should be held accountable to reckon with its treatment of Palestinians.

We can hold both of these aspirations to be self-evident.

It is indeed shameful that the three major monotheistic faiths can’t seem to live together. We together – Christians, Muslims, and Jews – are well over half the world’s population. Our younger brothers – the Muslims – are second in numbers only to Christianity. Our elders – the Jews – are but an infinitesimally small percent (0.2%) of the world’s population. But they are also the most persecuted through the ages. Sometimes I wonder what the world’s non-monotheistic faiths are thinking of this moment. Yes, they have their own dysfunction. But, it is still shameful that we believers in the One God can’t get along.

Yet, what are we the middle children of Abraham – the Christians – to do? What should we pray for? What actions can we take?

What is the responsibility of the privileged, who through pure circumstances and through no sweat of their own, are enjoying the fruits and benefits of their historic and oftentimes systemic oppression of others?

What is the responsibility of some of the oppressed, who through pure circumstances and through no fault of their own, find themselves in an intolerable desolate situation believing that there is no apparent way out other than to violently attack the oppressors?

And, what is the responsibility of the rest of us, the supposed “innocent bystanders”? Are we to live on as if nothing concerns us? Or are we to take sides and vilify “the other” – particularly those who opt for violence and terror?

Or maybe – just maybe – we who are able could take the time to listen and learn without prejudice to distinguish between the oppressed people and their terrorist leaders; between the privileged people and their corrupt government?

Can we hold two truths simultaneously? Can we acknowledge both that the leadership of the oppressors have caused great harm by doing whatever it takes to stay in power AND that there is a segment of the oppressed people that will all too often resort to and excuse terrorism?

One does not make the other wrong AND might does not make right.

The answer is not simple. And there is no fail-safe approach or process that will guarantee peaceful, conflict free coexistence, collaboration, and mutual respect.

But we can be sure of one thing: Violence, war, and terror will lead only to a spiral upwards of violence, war, and terror.

Only the give-and-take of diplomacy, connectedness and the realization that one side can neither exterminate nor subdue the other into submission can lead to a viable arrangement of coexistence. 

Only the mutual aspiration for shared economic prosperity and hope for a better future can avoid an apocalyptic future.

Let’s talk. Let’s talk knowing that no side gets all they sought. All sides must put hate aside. No one should demand for all people to love each other, only that they recognize each other as humans and stop killing each other lest mutual annihilation becomes inevitable.

AUGMENTED BY A FAITH (in the positive sense of the word!) VIEW:

Sometimes it takes an act of evil to wake us up to the wrongs we have committed. The challenge is to not respond to evil with evil. But to prayerfully discern what is God’s will for a graceful response. 

If we respond to evil in hate, we are doomed.

If evil causes us to enter into a state of deep desolation and thus respond in rage, we are doomed.

If we resort to responding with the historical wrath of God, we have not advanced in love.

If instead our discernment after we experience the atrocities of evil lead us to act with empathy, understanding, and charity, then we are in the Grace of God.

Challenging, yes. Impossible, no.

But what about talk of “just war”, “proportional responses”, “no justice no peace”, “it is time for a 9th Crusade”?

No. Violence begets violence. Violent responses never ever yield authentic, lasting peace. Ever.

I don’t know if this makes me a “pacifist” or “idealist” – or “a slave of righteousness” – as today’s 1st reading at Mass referenced. If it does, may it be for the Greater Glory of God.