Is Peace Possible in the Middle East, (Part One of Four)
It’s become abundantly clear, especially with the current horrendous conflict in this area, that peace is inevitable in the Middle East. It will come, either because every single human being dies, which removes the warring consciousness that has turned paradise into hell, or because enough combatants embrace a peace consciousness. Those well schooled in Middle East history would say, “Don’t hold your breath.” And, as a recent post on the situation advised: “Jews and Arabs are deeply suspicious of one another and do not agree on the fundamentals that could make peace a reality.” 1
Let’s pause on the word “suspicious.” No doubt suspicion is based on past performance. Promises have been broken. Motives are questionable. Betrayal is centuries old. So, what can possible change this? Certainly, each side waiting for the other to demonstrate reliability has not proven effective. There will always be wild cards, individuals who defy agreements and sabotage any peace accord that leaders broker and most of those on both sides agree with. What happens then? Reprisals, usually. Then it’s rinse and repeat all over again, just as it’s been, seemingly forever.
Suspicion ends when suspicion ends. Period. It takes absolute commitment, on the part of someone, a bunch of someones, that can demonstrate an irresistible model others could be inspired to follow. This will only happen when not being suspicious becomes more important and more appealing than being suspicious, and when those modeling this new behavior are obviously benefited by it. Who’s going to start that movement? Well, who’s reading?
The same post offers this cautionary wisdom: “Paradigms are difficult to change. Sacred paradigms are especially difficult to challenge.” 2What is a “sacred paradigm?” Simply put, it’s any belief clung to beyond reason. It needn’t be religious. One can believe in democracy, for instance, and demonize socialism or communism. Regardless of different beliefs, what all sacred paradigms share is myopia and blindness. If you’ve ever held a penny up to the sun you saw how that tiny coin eclipsed the mighty sun. It has to be close to you, which is what those rationalized beliefs always are, and held a certain way, to cause the blindness.
What can successfully challenge a sacred paradigm is urgent need. For instance, a Palestinian committed to hating Israelis who needs immediate medical care to save the life of his infant daughter might accept help from the enemy. An Israel living in daily fear of Hamas might shift that belief if some act of extraordinary kindness was committed by some representative of “the devil.”
Peace is possible in the Middle East. But it will take local leaders, not politicians, modeling new paradigms of belief and behaviors. They all face the choice T.S. Elliot described between “fire and fire.” They can continue down the current warpath and burn to death, or they can choose the path of peace by burning their old consciousness.