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Common humanity

I am shaken in my core by what happened to the Israeli people on the 7th of October. The terror of annihilation and extermination has been awakened for the Jewish people and a new trauma has been inflicted on an existing one. The Holocaust which has left a profoundly visceral embodied terror is fully awake again.

My heart aches for the Palestinian people too. They die by thousands, caught in the war between Israel and Hamas. For so many decades hundreds of thousands of them have been killed or have been made refugees, stateless and their suffering seems to have no end. How heartbreaking is their reality too.

As for Hamas, I am stunned, I have no words. What they did shakes profoundly my belief about humans. I fail to comprehend how humans reach that level of cruelty, it threatens my core of being a fellow human.

I cannot stop feeling that we have all failed as humanity when atrocities like that are committed. WE are not separate from one another, we are interwoven and interconnected constantly interacting and responding to one another. How have we all allowed violence to reach that level again? How much violence and in which ways have we been exporting and supporting? Are these Hamas people savages? Exterminating these savages will make the world a safer space? We do put aside killers in prisons in order to protect the society. In some countries we give them the death penalty too.

I know that for me killing another human being is killing a part of my soul too. I also know that by killing the murderer I spare him from the guilt and the suffering that he will experience when confronted with his actions. I want them to be hold accountable, to face the suffering they have caused. I also know that killing the savages does not change the conditions which allowed such an extremism and hate to be manifested. At the same time, somehow, the Israeli people need to feel protected and safe and being given the reassurance that this will not happen again.

It is my profound belief that dialogue and finding our common humanity is the answer to long-term peace, security and safety for both nations and the whole humanity. This does not mean that there will be no incidents of violence, every peace initiative has been jeopardized in the past by the extremists from both sides. It takes a lot of courage and maturity in the face of such a reality to choose for peace and not to allow the extremists to derail the train towards violence and war.

Some grass roots organizations are doing that, even under the current circumstances. Israelis and Palestinians meet finding their common humanity and advocating peace over war. It is much harder for politicians to do this history has showed. Only a couple have been committed to peace at this level. It is hard for politicians to accept that at some times they will fail to do part of their job, the most important one perhaps and that is to protect their population from attacks and violence. Thus when it happens the response is counter-attack.

I wonder how the population would react if told the truth, that the road to peace goes via loss, grief and suffering exactly the same road as war, but with no victory for the one party or the other, but for both, for peace. When politicians or people talk for peace they understand the absence of war and violence and they get enraged when violence takes place while peace talks take place. As if the outbreak of violence is not part of the process, as if peace is achieved because we talk about it.

If part of our education was how to grief, how to make sense of the suffering, how to develop our spirituality so as to be less afraid of death, if peace was the one and on top priority of our list of our values, if our value dying to protect my country and fellow men was replaced by dying for peace I think we would be preparing our citizens much better to stand for peace rather than opting for war.

If at all levels, political and grass roots, we were open an willing to meet our enemy on the basis of our common humanity shalom, salaam, peace could prevail in the hearts of all of us!

Tip for practice: think of a person or a nation that you consider to be your enemy. What do you think that matters to him/her/them? What is it that they want? And what for? Are there elements in the current environment that enables specific behaviours? Is there something to be done to change the conditions?

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