Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Part 4: Only Visiting—a Mere Breath

We humans are a “mere breath” here for a brief time and then gone—so very finite, as religion and modern science both teach us.

None of us can permanently “own” anything. The sheer delusion of history has been and still is that anyone--any individual, any group, any nation can “own” land and that their owning this land gives them the right to kill other human beings created in the image of God.

Only God is eternal, only God theoretically “owns” any physical reality. When God gives land to groups of humankind for a finite time (“…he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation,” Acts 17:26), God does so in order that each particular nation or ethnic group may be a blessing to others! Life is not about taking, but about giving.

Even when God chooses one people to be special messengers to bless humankind and then gives this group a portion of land, their living on the land is always to be based in justice and mercy as the prophets say. “But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24 and “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does God require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 and “… if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness.” Isaiah 58:10 ETC.

The horrors of human history and the tragic news of the present day show what happens when humans turn to lethal violence in order to “own” land.

No national group has an ethical right to claim sole ownership of any land irrespective of the needs of others--of goodness, love, and justice. Instead, we are to give, to be generous, to share, even sacrifice.

The Spirit of God divides asunder all the honest misguidance, illusion, and pretension of both Israelis and Palestinians who claim some parcel of land is theirs alone! Wait 100 years and the proud “owners” will be gone. These warring nationalistic individuals will be gone with the wind. Only God knows where.

But, agonizingly true, the deeply, incredibly difficult agenda is how to implement a loving, just, fair policy for all people in the Middle East. How does one put into practice the spiritual truth that Jewish people and Arab people need to share, because they are only visiting this earth like the rest of humankind?

#1 The first step would seem to be for the warring parties to become “compassionate listeners” ( Tragically most Israelis and Palestinians avoid each other. Not only do they not share, they often do not know each other, let alone have deep open honest conversations. They need to listen to the grievous hurts of the other.

#2 Secondly, they need to ask each other for forgiveness for the past. Horrendous acts of violence, theft, lying have been committed by both sides.

#3 Thirdly, the Israelis and Palestinians need to remember that they as individuals created in the image of God are far more important than any land claims.

#4 Fourthly, they then can go about the difficult task of working out how to function together despite having different cultures, different religions, different mindsets.

#5 Lastly, they will then be able to tackle the issue of how to SHARE the land, not to “own” it, not to fight over it, not to claim exclusive right to it.

There are many more steps, all of them difficult.

Having lived and worked in Palestine/Israel myself, and knowing how difficult human relationships are in my own life, I realize, none of this will be easy nor will it come about in a few years.

But agreeing to LISTEN and agreeing to SHARE are a good place to start.

In the Light of God,

Daniel Wilcox

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