It’s strong, it’s new, it’s brave. It’s kids pursuing peace
December 9 was the peace heroes “launch day” for the Yezidi and Muslim children living in Northern Iraq/Kurdistan. Lisa (whose story was featured in my last blog post), decided to turn the launch into a full-fledged celebration, a day to mark the “birth” of a new culture of peace within the walls of the refugee camps that these kids are living in. In so many ways, such a celebration of peace is incredibly subversive because of how it counters the terrible darkness these children are emerging from. It amazes me how something as simple as the Peace Heroes Curriculum can become a catalyst for the reframing of an entire culture and provide a platform for healing. It is, in the end, just a tool – but in the hands of a visionary, like Lisa, it can become a life-changing experience.
I am deeply indebted to Lisa for allowing me to repost her reflections from this momentous occasion, as well as a variety of pictures she (and her team) took, all of which you can find below. Please do visit Springs of Hope Foundation for even more pictures of and reflections on this special day. Continue reading “Counter Culture”
I was floored by the realization that what these kids have been through is comparable to the Nazis in Germany: the selection and ethnic cleansing, the concentration camps and all that went with that. It was (and is) shocking to think that the Yazidis can relate to this, on so many levels, and that Corrie’s experience will most likely resonate with them in ways we can’t even being to imagine
Several weeks ago I met with a woman who lives and works in northern Iraq/Kurdistan with ISIS survivors (Yazidi and Muslim), most of them former slaves (and mostly children). Lisa had heard about the Curriculum and wanted to know if it was something she could take back to Kurdistan with her, to use in her restorative therapy center. Sitting there with her, listening to her tell story after story about these communities and what they have been through in recent years, was both devastating and intensely hopeful – a tension I wasn’t sure how to navigate emotionally. I just listened in silence, stunned by the extent of the suffering these children have been through, awed by the work that she and her staff are doing to help these kids heal and give them hope for a better future, and completely humbled by her desire to use the Curriculum to that end. Continue reading “From These Ashes”
We cannot undo our brokenness, but we can, perhaps, remake it into something beautiful
In Japan there is an ancient art form called kintsugi in which broken objects, rather than being thrown out, are reconstructed with liquid gold – the precious metal holding the broken pieces together like glue. Kintsugi is based on the belief that “fractures don’t represent the end of the object’s life, but an essential moment in its history” (“Kintsugi: the Art of Embracing Damage”). The purpose of kintsugi is to reveal how mended objects can be more beautiful than their original, pristine forms. Kintsugi bears witness to an often-neglected truth: that brokenness can be a powerful medium for transformation. It’s simply a question of how the pieces are put back together. Continue reading “Broken”
“Do one good thing every day that everyone else is scared to do” — Leymah Gbowee
In honor of International Day of Peace, celebrated on September 21st, it gives me great pleasure to share a couple of short videos from two of our peace heroes, Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, and Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish from Gaza, Palestine. These messages are directed towards all students of the Peace Heroes Curriculum.
For a description of our interaction with Leymah Gbowee during the women’s peace march that took place in October 2016, please read the blog post entitled “When Lives Collide.”
For a description of Dr. Abuelaish’s visit to one of our pilot schools in March 2017, please read the blog post entitled “Brave Is.”
May these messages of peace inspire each and every one of us to continue to play our part – big or small – in bringing hope to people, both near and far.
“The refusal to hate is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of human experience”
I had been told that there is a group of fifth grade girls at the Jerusalem School that gathers most days during the lunch break to do peace-related things: they draw pictures, put on dramas, recite poems, write and perform songs, and have lively discussions about whether or not they themselves are peace heroes – like the ones they are studying. Apparently this little get-together has been going on for some time, and this week I was invited to join them during lunch to see what it is all about. Continue reading “Brave Is”
It is often said that the parallel worlds of victimization that these two people live in makes it virtually impossible for each side to comprehend, let alone accept, the other’s pain. But when attempts to cross over that divide do happen, they are deeply moving – as is illustrated in Dalia’s life-story, or in the community that is being created at Hagar
This week I had the opportunity to visit a bi-lingual (Hebrew and Arabic) elementary school in Beer Sheva (approximately an hour and a half south of Jerusalem) on account of the school’s interest in the Peace Heroes Curriculum. The school, called Hagar, is a truly amazing enterprise – I was completely blown away by how they have managed to create an environment of equality, mutual respect, and shared living for all of their 250 Jewish and Arab students. The school was started ten years ago by Jewish and Arab parents who were unhappy with the way the education system separates the two peoples. So they decided to start their own mixed school, beginning with kindergarten and gradually increasing their capacity so that today they have classes all the way to 6th grade. The school is completely bi-lingual and each class is co-taught by two teachers, one who speaks Hebrew and once who speaks Arabic. There is a strong emphasis on identity at the school, and students are encouraged to learn about their own heritage and culture as well as that of their peers. As part of this journey toward a deeper understanding of self and others, the school celebrates all the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian holidays. The environment they have created at Hagar is a remarkable manifestation of what shared life between Jews and Arabs in Israel can look like.
Continue reading “The Choices We Make”
“True change begins with the strong, beautiful, broken individuals in a nation”
These days it is easy to fall prey to a growing sense of despair – I’m almost afraid to read the news, afraid to hear of the latest development, be it locally or abroad, that is guaranteed to increase the rift between peoples, obscuring the inviolability of our shared humanity. While I was feeling increasingly helpless and hopeless, it was the students participating in our pilot program who reminded me that despair is, in itself, a kind of illusion – a willed forgetfulness. For isn’t it fundamentally true that so long as there is even one person working to heal the wounds of his or her fellow human beings, there is still hope – a light shining in the darkness, robbing the darkness of its killing power? Continue reading “Where There is Hope”