Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Peace happens when people listen

Emmy Lou Cholak - January 25th, 2007
The goal of compassionate listening is to listen, give positive feedback, and allow someone to feel heard. If you feel heard, then you are more likely and willing to hear from another. Through this process, we learn respect for each other’s story and can help each other mend and heal. That leaves space for gradual acceptance of differences and the possibility of change.
In November, I went to Israel and Palestine with the “Compassionate Listening Project” (www.compassionatelistening.org). Through this project, we spoke to many people about their feelings about the Israel/ Palestine conflict.
There were 22 of us in the group plus two co-leaders: Leah Green, an American Jew, and Maha El-Taji, a Muslim Palestinian. We met Israelis and Jewish, Muslim and Palestinian political leaders. We met Palestinian Muslims, Christians, Hamas leaders, refugee camp leaders, and people on the street everywhere. Through them we heard of the many sorrows and pain of the rift in the Middle East and how it has hurt everyone.
Here are a couple of stories:
Hagit Ra’anan, an Israeli Jew, lost her husband and then her pregnancy in the first war with Lebanon. She felt that was a message to her. She has devoted her time since, working for peace.
During the recent war with Hezbollah, she traveled every day from Jerusalem to bomb shelters in the north, in spite of bombs falling around her, bringing hope and peace and caring for children. She taught them, and us, how to make paper peace cranes.
She believes that if we can heal ourselves and individuals around us, there is a chance for healing between nations. She says, “I don’t think of myself as a ‘peacemaker.’ I don’t think you can ‘make’ peace. It’s already here. I just need to be that peace.”
Ibrahim Issa, a Palestinian Muslim, is director of The Hope Flowers al-Amal School in Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine. The mission of the school is to teach the importance of coexistence and democracy, along with Arabic, Hebrew, and English.
The PLO blew up the school in 1992. Issa rebuilt it. Since the 2000 Intifada, no Israelis are allowed to attend the school.
In 2002, Israeli forces arrested Issa and accused him of giving refuge to a terrorist. Issa pleaded his innocence. He was tortured five days, and then released with an apology for the partial demolition of his home. Friends encouraged him to seek retribution. Issa said, “I need to practice forgiveness.”
In 2004, Israeli soldiers asked him, “Why do you do peace education?” Issa replied, “There is no other choice.”
We must all work for peace.
We were impressed with the intensity of so many individuals and organizations working for peace. No one wants war. Israel‘s new seperatation wall was seen as only temporary and no one really wants it. Pain is everywhere, in need of being healed.
Our listening helped and our mandate is to bring what we have learned home. All 22 of us feel the need to tell about our trip, so others can feel the pain and help work towards peace. You cannot obtain peace if you favor one side over the other. You are not open to healing all sides if you feel your favorite cause committed no wrongs. We learned to “hold” the pain of each side, and thus try to move towards peace.
Please come to hear about the program and the trip. “Pain in the Land of Love- a Talk for Peace in the Middle East” offers three presentations:
• Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Congregation (UU), 6726 Center Rd., Mission Peninsula, Traverse City;
• Monday Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. at Traverse Area District Library;
• Friday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m., again at the UU.
At each there will be a talk and slide show about my trip to Israel and Palestine.
 
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