by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
I will not accept that peace is NOT possible — whether we’re talking about peace between siblings, neighbors or work associates or peace between nations or religions.
First of all, I believe there is one God who is Lord and Creator of all. Truly, we are all children of the same divine Parent — or whatever we call the Almighty. Like it or not, regardless of race, tribe, cultural or religious beliefs, we are all brothers and sisters of the same fold.
Recently, I’ve recalled something Israel’s Space Agency Payload Specialist, Ilan Ramon, said in January 2003 when he was 180 miles from the earth aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. He observed how peaceful the world looked and that his view from orbit revealed no borders on the earth below, and no war.
I’ve been pondering this universal view — all nations and peoples sharing the same world — without borders and boundaries and at peace.
How natural it was for the space shuttle occupants to wake up to the sounds of John Lennon singing “Imagine,” with its dream of the world living as one, living life in peace, a brotherhood of man. He sang, “Imagine there’s no countries… nothing to kill or die for.” An appropriate song since the view from space made such a dream seem possible.
Several years ago, I was preparing to teach my first kindergarten class. A friend found an old copy of a newspaper article she thought I would enjoy titled, “We learned it all in kindergarten.” It outlined how we would have a better world, a more peaceful world, if everyone remembered what they learned in kindergarten.
But today, some children are being raised to hate, fear, mistrust, judge, condemn, and all the etceteras. But, what could be learned in kindergarten (or, as children) that could create a peaceful world?
I’ll tell you what kids were taught in my kindergarten class. Almost every lesson centered on what many folks call the “golden rule” — treating one another as we would like to be treated ourselves. This didn’t mean we all had to be best buddies. We didn’t even have to like everyone. But we did have to show each other respect and courtesy in just the way we wanted respect and courtesy shown to us.
This meant we would share and play fair. We would work together and cooperate with each other. We would listen to each other. We would wait patiently for our turn. We wouldn’t take things that didn’t belong to us. We would never be mean, never hit or say hurtful words or make ugly faces. And if we forgot and were mean and hurtful, we would say we were sorry… and mean it. This would require also being forgiving.
So, you may ask, what does the “golden rule” have to do with nations? I remember reading in the book of Genesis in the Bible how Abram and Lot decided to part and live separately from each other. It became clear they could no longer live together and share the same land. Abram came up with a peaceful solution. He said, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” And he said, “Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.”
So, boundaries between two “nations” began. And there was no need to be at war to determine the borders. But there was a need to be in agreement. And to have respect for that agreement.
Reaching an agreement apparently requires listening, patience, fairness, cooperation and perhaps even forgiveness.
Perhaps peace in the world begins with what our children are taught. But I don’t think it is ever too late to learn. Abram and Lot showed us that peaceful cooperation is possible even as adults.
I believe peace begins with an understanding that we are brethren with the same God who loves us all dearly. But I believe peace can not begin without the conviction and certainty that peace is possible. There is power in every person and nation that shares this conviction. So maybe we need to at least start by believing that peace in the world — in the Middle East — is possible!