Is Peace Possible in the Middle East, Part Two of Four
Yes. But it’s going to require a new story. Here’s how the old story is described by The Millennium Project: “The old story seems like “bite hands,” a game played in the Middle East by two boys. Each puts a hand in the other’s mouth. Both bite hard until someone gives up. “Give me justice or I bite harder!” “Give me peace or I bite harder.”1
“Both bite hard until someone gives up.” Well, that’s hasn’t succeeded so far. What’s glaringly obvious in this metaphor is that justice and peace are imagined as a result to come because of what someone else does in response to what is being done to them. It’s acquiescing to a threat… never a dignified or lasting solution.
What’s a saner alternative? We might consider justice and peace as starting points. Instead of force and threats, we could lead with the result we want. As has been said, “we experience what we express.” Want justice? Be just. Want peace? Be peaceful. Note, this doesn’t infer that by being just or peaceful anyone else will. It’s just stating the obvious, you experience what you express… on the inside.
So, how does the inside reflect on the outside? That takes faith. And the understanding that this is already a prevailing principle that is dependably in action. It’s just not easy to see local results. Bad things happen to good people. Why? How could a saint be tortured? Someone like Jesus, known as the Prince of Peace, was crucified.
That didn’t stop him from being peaceful.
And this is the point. Peacemakers are unrelenting. They demonstrate loyalty to the qualities they wish to see active in the world around them and they prove that nothing is stronger than their faith. Jesus did it. Gandhi did it. Countless others did it, most of them unknown heroes, lost in the dark of history. But their efforts have worked. Regardless of what the media tells us, planet earth is a far less barbarous place than it ever has been. Peace has been increasing and will continue to do so. That’s the evolution of human consciousness, the most un-reported story in human history.
In his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker writes, “The number of people killed in battle – calculated per 100,000 population – has dropped by 1,000-fold over the centuries as civilizations evolved. Before there were organized countries, battles killed on average more than 500 out of every 100,000 people. In 19th century France, it was 70. In the 20th century with two world wars and a few genocides, it was 60. Now battlefield deaths are down to three-tenths of a person per 100,000.”2 Furthermore, he goes on to say, “The rate of genocide deaths per world population was 1,400 times higher in 1942 than in 2008.”3
Who amongst us will say, “Is it my turn now?” When enough of those killing each other in the Middle East answer “Yes” and prove it, they will provide an unstoppable force for transformation in others and peace will come.