The geese flew in formation, skimming Lake Michigan a scant foot above the water, reflected perfectly in early morning light. The grace, agility, and strength they expressed lifted my spirits. The beauty of their ensemble was greater than any one of them would have had alone.
The scene gives me hope for a resolution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
If geese flying in formation suddenly hear a gunshot, they don't look to each other to find out who is to blame; they instantly lift themselves higher, heading out of range of the bullets. How can we get above the blame and condemnation that shoot down efforts for peace? By keeping a vision that what Palestinians and Israelis can do together is greater and more beautiful than what either of them could do alone.
An unrealistic ideal? Not for the Israeli and Palestinian fathers who formed a joint support group for parents who had lost children and were helping each other learn to live their forgiveness. Not for the Israeli entrepreneur who was willing to give up his successful business on occupied land in order for peace to go forward. Not for the Arab dad who lost his life rescuing an Israeli child from drowning. The Arabs and Jews in those families, whose stories have been reported in this newspaper, have a strong bond. The ugliness of the violence, hate, and resentment we see and hear in news reports is the grossest counterfeit of the unselfish humanity that forms a solid basis for hope.
Trace this hope back to a Bible promise that God made to Abraham, grandfather to both the tribes that would bear the generations of Palestinians and Israelis. After telling Abraham to leave Mesopotamia and move the thousand miles to Canaan, God said, "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:2, 3).
God's law still enforces this promise - that whoever or whatever opposes the freedom and prosperity of the family of Abraham - the whole family - must submit to that law of blessing established over two millennia ago.
The inclination to think beyond self-interest lies within each of us. Each time we put another's needs above our own and find happiness in doing so, we are feeling the reality of God's rule within us. Despite the pull of desperation we are all tempted to feel at times, opportunities are given to us over and over again to quiet selfish passions and practice the love that is our true nature. This is no more and no less the promise of peace in the Middle East: that we are governed by the spiritual not the material. The controlling power in our lives is our relationship to God, the Father-Mother who expresses His/Her own goodness in each of us.
Civilization goes forward based on this kind of integrity. Noble, kind, generous deeds are done every day in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem, in Tel Aviv and in Joppa. These virtues are the real wisdom and power of the region. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in a poem,
Love looseth thee, and lifteth me,
Ayont hate's thrall:
There Life is light, and wisdom
And God is All.
Wisdom is might. No matter how dramatic the killing and terror, the real power of the Middle East lies in the wisdom that is anchored in the understanding of one God, who is All. God intends for this to be known. He is fortifying the families of the Middle East to work for peace.
Let us not lose this hope. Our prayers fly together, wingtip to wingtip.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society