Saturday, April 30, 2011

Peace Quote of the Day - peace must start with the individual

“If peace is to be built, it must start with the individual.”

“Nothing is so vital – or painful – as recognizing the unpeace in our own lives and hearts. For some of us it may be hatred or resentment; with others, deceit, dividedness, or confusion; still others, mere emptiness or depression. In the deepest sense it is all violence and must therefore be face and overcome.”
Johann Arnold, Seeking Peace

This is a key observation. It resonates with my experience. I have been struck, in visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories, by the reality of peace in the lives of so many individuals - Israelis and Arabs, Jews, Christians and Muslims, who are working for peace. From a Sufi Muslim Sheikh to Rabbis for Human Rights to the Bereaved Parents Circle to Christian Peacemaker Team to the Quakers to Sabeel to Musalaha, and on and on, I have been overwhelmed by the spirit of women and men who have given their lives to protesting and working against violence and injustice, but are doing so without violence, inward or outward. 

I notice this, am struck by it, am deeply convicted, because what I see makes me angry, makes me want to do something. I feel violence (I hate to admit it) stirring within me, welling up, and recognize my lack of the kind of inner peace that Arnold is talking about. 

And I realize that it is not possible to make a positive contribution to peace (in the world, between people in conflict) without being at peace - again, in the way described by Arnold - within oneself.

And I know that I have much to learn, much to grow, much still to receive from the one I follow, Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Peace Quote of the Day - Shalom

“Shalom [the Hebrew word for “peace”] means the end of war and conflict, but it also means friendship, contentment, security, and health; prosperity, abundance, tranquility, harmony with nature, and even salvation. And it means these things for everyone, not only a select few. Shalom is ultimately a blessing, a gift from God. It is not a human endeavor. It applies to the state of the individual, but also to relationships – among people, nations, and between God and man. Beyond this, shalom is intimately tied to justice, because it is the enjoyment or celebration of human relationships which have been made right.”
Johann Arnold, Seeking Peace

Peace Quote of the Day

“Darkness is the absence of light, but peace is not just the cessation of hostilities…[Peace] is more than the absence of war. Peace, in fact, is not the absence of anything, but rather the ultimate affirmation of what can be.”
Rabbi Kenneth L. Cohen

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Peace Quote of the Day - as salaam alaykum

“I use Salaam alaikum as a daily greeting, but it does not just mean ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon.’ It means more: ‘The peace and blessings of God be upon you.’ When I say this, I feel that you are at peace with me, and I with you. I am extending a helping hand to you. I am coming to you to give you peace. And in the meantime, until we meet again, it means that I pray to God to bless you and have mercy upon you, and to strengthen my relationship to you as a brother.”
(Muhammad Salem Agwa, NYC Imam, quoted in Johann Arnold, "Seeking Peace")

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is There No Hope?

June 15, 2010, Bethlehem

Is There No Hope?
Is there no hope, when people have long been struggling with each other
When there is a long and painful history
Of wrongs
Of hurting, taking, attacking, even killing.
When each feels themself a victim
When each calls on God for vindication
When each sees only their own hurt and the others’ wrongs to them
And is unable to acknowledge their own wrongs
Or to ask for forgiveness.

Is there no alternative to a struggle to the death
(“til death do us part” has a different meaning here)
When others take sides
And blindly defend
And encourage the parties not to compromise?

“Jesus is the answer” – but how?
What would Jesus do?
What would he have me do?
Did he change the suffering of the Jewish people in the First Century?
Didn’t they crucify him because he failed to?
Did Jesus bring hope to the Jews and the Romans?
He did,
But not the way that I would like (him) to bring hope to the Palestinians and Israelis.

Is there no hope for a “tangible” solution,
for an end to the conflict,
for compromise, reconciliation, justice, peace?

What can we do?
What can we hope for?

Are we not called to call out for peace and justice?
Are we not called to work against wrong, exploitation, the strong hurting the weak?
Are we not called to stand for truth and reconciliation?

So what do we do, what can we do, what is – where is – our hope?
“My hope is in you” –
But what does that mean, today, in the land where Jesus walked?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

two violinists TOUR FOR PEACE

So, for those of you who remember my post about Game Trekking a while back (mentioned in my last post), here's another kickstarter project aimed at uniting art and peacemaking: Tour for Peace.  I've had the privilege of knowing one of the violinists (Lauren Manning) since we were kids (and even then we knew how talented she was) and of hearing her perform on multiple occasions.  She's spent most of her life in Jordan, and the Arab world, with its conflicts and its joys, is very close to her heart.

Check out their vision.  Sponsor if you can.    

Monday, April 4, 2011

Smiling Wide in the Shadow of the Khmer Rouge

I've already posted about my brother, a computer game developer who is traveling the world (Southeast Asia, anyway) creating "notgames" about his experiences.

Calling him a computer game developer is not entirely correct, however.  My brother is an artist -- someone who seeks to creatively interact with the world around him.  Someone constantly searching for meaningful ways to encounter reality, and ways to convey that encounter (that meaning, if you will) with others.

As an artist, he's never been limited to the computer game (or interactive) medium.

Among his many other talents, he is an exceptional writer, and I highly encourage you to read his most recent travel article, Cambodia: Like No Place I've Been.  

I link to it here because it's a powerful exploration of a land torn by conflict, and the ordinary, joy-filled people who live on despite a horrific past and a difficult present.

How is it that the world can simultaneously be filled with such bright beauty and dark violence? 

On a side-note, I first learned about Cambodia through the award-winning young adult novel, Children of the River, which is well worth a read.