5 September 2014
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Peacemaking–A
Journey Taken Step by Step
by Cory Lockhart, JustFaith graduate and program director
|CPTer aspiring to be peacemaker while monitoring
soldiers in Hebron’s Old City.
[Note: The following reflection has been adapted for CPTnet.
The original piece appeared in JustFaith Ministries’ Voices. It is available here and
contains questions for discussion and ideas for taking action.]
I am an aspiring peacemaker.
I use the word “aspiring” because I have not yet fully
embraced in thought and action the ideals of peacemaking that I find so
compelling. Practicing it is a constant daily effort, a series of taking steps
(sometimes forward, sometimes backward), falling, getting up, and trying again.
Overall, I think I’ve taken more steps forward than backward, but my
peacemaking journey is far from complete. It is a lifelong quest.
I have been in many places where oppression is evident. It
is in Palestine, however, where I have seen most clearly the systematic
dehumanization of people by other people, in both subtle and obvious ways, every
day, day after day.
Watching interactions between Palestinians and Israelis has
challenged me and my peacemaking ideals to the core. How do I express my anger
in a way that doesn’t dehumanize those I accuse of dehumanizing others? How do
I acknowledge the destructive forces of a system while acknowledging that the
people who by choice or by birth are part of that system are children of God? How
do I live in community with others during difficult circumstances?
Practices for Stepping Forward
Even as I struggle, I am taking steps forward, learning a
little more about what peacemaking means in a tangible sense. Here are a four of the practices I am
trying to integrate into my life.
1. Look people in the
This was my practice during the less volatile times I was
around Israeli soldiers, whose presence was often marked by the bravado of boys
on the cusp of manhood, whose attitudes ranged from mild disrespect to
hostility and anger, and whose actions ranged from inconveniencing Palestinians
(and sometimes internationals) to doing them physical harm.
I would look straight at them, hoping to catch their eyes,
with the following mantra going through my head: I don’t hate you. I know you are more than what I see you do. I wish
you love, real true love in your heart, for all people. What are you
doing? What are you doing? What
are you doing? By repeating the words, I knew that my eyes conveyed
compassion, because that is what I felt. Sometimes a soldier dared to look at
me and hold my gaze. I have no idea what he was thinking, but in those seconds,
I never felt that he returned my compassion with hostility.
2. Speak your truth. I
am not great at expressing my needs. I had a number of chances to practice speaking my truth while
living with the team. At times I felt tensions with teammates because my needs
weren’t being met. My frustration grew as I waited for them to care for me. However,
my challenges were not the same as theirs, so they didn’t know I was struggling
until I told them. Once I did so, we were able to have productive conversations
about the dynamics between us
3. Listen. Really listen. Really,
really listen. This is the counterpart to speaking our truth. There must
be awareness that our individual truths form an incomplete picture.
4. Practice gratitude.
It is amazing just how many blessings we experience, even in the most trying of
circumstances. In fact, there are reasons to be grateful for the trials
themselves as they invite us to stretch and grow. Even if we’re not ready or
able to see our difficulties as gifts, we can take note of the many simple
pleasures in our lives: a good meal, a beautiful sunset, a quiet walk, a
conversation with a friend. When we start to pay attention, it is easy to find
abundant goodness around us. Recognizing it eases the tension in our lives and helps
us share that goodness with others.
Peacemaking is not easy. It is an ongoing practice. I am
only beginning to integrate the above into my walk, moving both with confident
strides and tentative steps. I find the journey easier when I have someone to
Will you join me?