“Our blood is exactly the same color, and our pain is the same pain.” – Moira, a Palestinian woman
It’s been 9 months since I ventured to the Middle East. Not a day goes by that I do not think about it and the people I encountered. I promised the Israelis and Palestinians I met that I would share what I saw, so I will continue to do that in every way possible. I am realizing more and more how much my Israel/Palestine trip prepared me for what has been happening in our country today. I have realized we need more Moiras and Ramis in the world.
I remember the smell of the room we met in each morning to debrief the day before. The smell was foreign, stale, and yet still so familiar to me. We stayed in a lovely hotel in Jerusalem that was not a far walk from the Old City. The room in the hotel was a room for groups to meet, but I bet they haven’t had groups meet like we did on that day. I knew we were meeting a man and a woman from something they call the Parent Circle. It’s a group that have lost a child or a spouse or any family member really and they meet to talk about their losses and learn from each other. Seems pretty common, right? Wrong. It’s a group that have lost a family member by the hands of their enemies. It’s a group of Israeli and Palestinian men and women who sit together in the same room, sharing about their losses, because of each other! How are known enemies supposed to sit together in a room, cry with each other, laugh together, and love on one another? Oh yeah, they don’t consider themselves enemies.
Moira and Rami entered into the room. Rami, an Israeli Jew, a father, a husband, a man of pain, a man of joy, and a man of peace. Moira, a Palestinian Muslim, a mother, a widow, a woman of love, a woman of understanding, a woman of loss, and a woman of peace. We entered into a fairly large circle together and the beautiful, but difficult words of these two, incredible people began to spill. Moira’s husband was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier because he got out of his car to check on why there was so much traffic. The soldiers in that area felt threatened and shot him. He was left in the street for hours until Moira found out what had happened. Rami lost his only and youngest daughter to a Palestinian suicide bomber in the Old City of Jerusalem, she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rami and Moira are best friends. How can this be? What do you do with these two stories?
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
I felt the tears creeping up to my eyes, ready for them to tip out and run down my face. These two people who have seen death in the most brutal way BECAUSE of each other, have chosen to love their enemies and call each other brother and sister. Moira said this, “Being the victim stops with me. I will not use that to victimize others.” Moira and Rami changed my life that day and they continue to shape my heart towards the events happening in today’s world. That is why we cannot be quiet, for such a time is this to show compassion, to express understanding, to embrace each other in love, and to stand for what is right and just in this world.
How can two people groups, who are known to be enemies, overcome hatred? They sit with each other, they learn, and they listen. You cannot kill someone you know, respect, and love, so we must seek to know those we do not understand. I saw Jesus in Moira and Rami that day. A Muslim and a Jew taught me more about who Jesus is than a Christian Pastor has ever done. Is it at all possible that when Jesus said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” he said that because that is when we truly experience how to be like Him in a world that is so desperate to see His love in us?
Black, white, brown, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, homosexual, conservative, Latino, liberal, transgender, Christian, I will continue to fight with love, compassion, and justice against any hatred that may come your way until you know of the love that Jesus has for you, for “our blood is exactly the same color, and our pain is the same pain.”