Peacemaking: The Challenge of our Modern World

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My dear friend, Shahabuddin David Less is in Israel at the moment meeting with the Peacemakers of the Abrahamic Reunion.

Amongst others, he recently visited Elias Jabour, a seventh generation practitioner of “Sulha”, the traditional peacemaking formula of the Middle East. Sulha means ‘agreeable amends’, the making of peace. During the “Sulha” process one literally takes turns talking and listening, all the whilst holding out a real olive branch! It’s a very powerful process.

The first time I met Elias at his home in Bethlehem he offered us a veritable feast to celebrate the meeting of what he called “new/old friends”. Elias has the deep wisdom that comes with having lived a full and conscious life. He is an 80 something year old Melkite Christian Arab with a deep love for humanity and a keen insight into the problems of the day in Israel and Palestine. He maintains that what is lacking in the world today is love. Our real work, he reminds us, is to create arenas where the love inherent in every human being can be rekindled and emerge with its natural power. Love, he says is the most powerful and valuable of our natural resources.

Love, Elias Jabour says, is the most powerful and valuable of our natural resources. Click To Tweet

Peacemakers need to be patient and not revert to anger. A tall order perhaps, but anger clouds the natural wisdom and compassion in a human being. In anger we lose the clear inspiration that is the key to making peace. And peacemakers must never lose their vision, nor can we afford to give up.

The lessons sound simple and yet can we, like Elias, control our thoughts and speech enough to remove negativity in the midst of situations where we are triggered? Can we truly push forward through the mud of doubt, fear, exhaustion and trauma in order to find the primal ground of inner and outer peace, and share that with our fellow humans? This is not an easy discipline. It means confronting our reactive inner children and our need to feel secure. It means giving up our need to be right and therefore safe.

As Gandhi so eloquently put it, it is up to us to create the change we want to happen. It is up to us to create the vision and model of a peaceful society. It is our priority and responsibility to ensure that we work on it in our daily lives, too – with each person we encounter and in situations great and small. Elias Jabour grew up on the same streets that Christ did. And he propounds the same message. He also reminds us to turn the other cheek, to seek the higher road.

Peace is precious. It cannot come without the discipline and the desire to make it a reality. Click To Tweet

Peace is precious. It cannot come without the discipline and the desire to make it a reality. To truly be a Peacemaker, we have to be committed to go beyond the pettiness of our individual needs. We have to hold true to our higher goals and aspirations – to hold true to the vision of a peaceful greater whole!

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