City of Jerusalem
Posted on December 9, 2016
In CE, I mention to the children the miracle of each of them being different from their classmates -- and even different from the other almost eight billion people on this earth. And that's not even counting the people who have already passed on or the people who haven't yet been born! Being one of many billions? That definitely defines one as unique and special! The children love knowing they are so special.
The older I get, I realize the other side of this coin - that being unique individuals means that there will inherently be conflict. Last month I had the amazing opportunity to visit Israel. I stayed in the city of Jerusalem, which has the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. I also visited Bethlehem and Jericho, cities in Palestinian territory. Another day I went to the Jordan River, where armed Israeli soldiers were on one side of the river and maybe only 20 yards away, across the river, were armed Jordanian soldiers. I was more aware of the potential of conflict more than ever.
On my trip, I became more aware of the importance of getting along in even more mundane ways, as I traveled with five other women, all dear friends. To even get to Israel took two consecutive nights of red-eye flights - over 28 hours of travel - which affected each of us differently. When we arrived at Israel, the woman who led our trip didn't need a detailed itinerary; when she wrote the itinerary she simply listed the city where we were visiting for the day. Whereas another woman in our group mentioned how she schedules her work in ten minute blocks (she's in the healthcare industry) and requires a more detailed itinerary. One woman didn't really need much sleep and didn't get hungry very often. Another woman needed more sleep and frequent small meals or snacks. Such differences in even our basic needs!
During my entire trip I thought daily about peace, when our group of six each had various opinions on various issues on simply where to eat for lunch (falafel again? how much were we willing to spend? was this place clean enough? was there enough time to sit down and eat? were they going to give us a fair price?) or when seeing the Israeli soldiers around the city with their automatic weapons. How can we humans, with such differences, achieve peace?
The six of us women in our small travel group were able to find peace, by the grace of God. Honestly, it was no small feat! Each of us had to be willing and open to solving problems and think of multiple solutions for problems that arose. Each of us had to put the cares of the others above oneself at one time or other. Each of us had to identify our emotions and figure out ways to respectfully express them to each other. Even being dear friends, there were tears, tense moments, and meetings to problem-solve. Believe me, I was constantly thinking about how I can teach these skills and strategies to our children in CE.
Being an American and having known only peace with our Canadian and Mexican neighbors - and moreso living in the very isolated island state of Hawaii, we sometimes forget. And reading more recently about December 7th and how 75 years ago the Japanese were our enemy and now they are our friends - these are lessons we do not want to forget. What lessons have we adults learned about respecting others and resolving differences? We must teach our children by our example -- you know our children are watching us -- and during discussions at the dinner table.
After having been literally half way around the world and back, it is even more imperative to me to teach our children ways to try to daily achieve peace.