My world is very different from that of the Israelis and Palistinians, I have no frame of reference. Yes, I’ve crossed arms and marched, painted posters, written speeches, and outed injustices. In my heart, I strive to “do right” by my hero, U. S. Representative John Lewis. I’ve always believed when Representative Lewis joined the Freedom Riders and inevitably rose to the rank of Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), every day was spent forging a path for truth and justice; and maybe, just maybe, one day I too might light a fire that would serve as a beacon (or even just a wafting flicker) for those serving the just and the righteous.
For me that day has not come. Instead, here in the Holy Land, I’m learning that my future may never include me leading anyone and probably not even myself to the “promised land.” Perhaps my role is more subtle, less radical? Can it be that My contribution will be to share what I see, what I hear, what I know, and what I experience and use my voice to start or even continue our most difficult dialogues? While I might not be a “drum major for change,” I’m beginning to believe that I just may be a “connector” for hope.
Tonight, I share with you a few of the sights and sounds of protest and peace I’ve experienced. Will it call you to action, will you question what you know, what you’ve been told? I’d like to hear what your thoughts,because I’ve met some wonderful men and women with stories waiting to be shared. Pull up a chair…
A. A group of Israeli Jews dancing around the Torah. One might view this as a celebration. Does your view change when you learn that it occurred at the corner of Via Dolorosa and Al-Wad Rd (the main access point to the Muslim Quarters). What do you see?
B. A small group of Palestinian youths run erratically up and down a hill. Did you notice they where throwing rocks the size of walnuts at a concrete wall? Could there be more to this story than what we see?
C. Graffiti is the modern expression of youthful angst? Or is it a universal call to action?
D. Yet in the midst of it all is the birth of great hope, the Church of the Nativity, a manger into which love was born.