The root of discord and violence between people and nations comes from our tendency to forget our humanity. We "forget" our true nature.
Violence is a "learned" behavior. We "learn" it from our environment. When we are born, we do not possess the tendency to violence. As we grow, we become driven by "reactions." Our reactions are influenced by what we witness in our environment. We "copy" what we see. Therefore, violence and hatred are not natural to our essence.
As we grow older, we "buy" into the deception. We come to believe that violence is "OK" when "justified". It is "OK" to kill for our beliefs or defending our "territory." We have learned to "possess." We "live to possess". We like to possess things, people, land, animals, anything tangible and intangible. The more we possess, the more powerful over others we feel. Our society or community reinforces this "tendency". Our worth is largely "measured" by the amount of our possessions. We feel validated.
Thus, around the world we find ourselves fighting, killing each other "defending" what we "possess": our nationalism, religion, territory, and ideologies. We become slaves of our deception and desires. In the process, we lose ourselves, our humanity. We sacrifice our soul for lies! (How much better off we would be if we were to place as much zest pursuing wisdom, our self-growth or spiritual evolution as we place chasing our illusions and enhancing our bodies!)
Thus, driven by our illusions, we forget that those we attack blindly (other human beings of all ages) in the name of "a cause, belief or ideology" are as real as we are. They bleed, they grieve, and they have potential and dreams just like us. In sum, in many ways, they are extensions of our "selves" with their own uniqueness and role to play in this world. We deceive ourselves into thinking of them as our "enemy", faceless, without history and soul, different from us. We label them, "Jews," "Palestinians," "Blacks," "Whites," "Muslims," "Christians," "Infidels," and so on.
Some of the stupidity of it all is that we condemn one another mostly for traits beyond the individual's control. We choose to ignore that we are born into a specific religion, ethnicity, country, race, gender, social or economic status! I am white only because I was born into the white race. Or, I am black because I was born into the black race. The same goes for my gender, national origin, and even religion! (Although the latter has become "optional," another "power-driven" concept). However, before we are any of the above, we are human beings. Take all of the above away. What do you have? Human beings! That is what each and every one of us is first and foremost. That is the truth! Everything else is an illusion, a lie! What would happen if we were to eliminate the labels and see each other for what we really are: people?
I firmly believe that peace in the Middle East or nowhere else will never come as a result of political and religious "agreements" and strategies. Peace, I believe, can only be achieved from the "awakening to our humanity" by each and every individual, ordinary people, "caught in the middle" of the political and religious games and conflicts.
Peace can only be achieved by rejecting the illusion, the lie! By opponents getting together and taking off the blinders through sharing their humanity, their pain, their hopes and dreams, by learning from one another, comforting each other, crying and laughing together, forgiving one another, working together and making the decision to stop violence. Thus, honoring the memory of those who have died in the fight by deciding to relate and interact as human beings first and foremost, not "puppets" or "labels."
Some Israelis and Palestinians are doing just that. They are meeting each other, as human beings and sharing the pain each one has endured by the loss of loved ones in the conflict; forgiving each other. They have stopped seeing each other as enemies, as a "Palestinian" and a "Jew". Instead, they have broken free from the deception and have achieved wisdom and enlightenment realizing that first and foremost, they are human beings. Letting their humanity and compassion prevail! Your pain is not greater than my pain. Your loss is not greater than mine is. Your life is not more significant than mine and vice versa . . .
Violence only begets more violence just like hatred only breeds more hatred. It becomes a vicious cycle. It de-humanizes us. It causes us to lose our essence, corrupting our spirit, destroying our soul and everyone and everything around us! Violence and hatred, the deceptive "labeling and blindness" make us dead among the living. Every time we kill someone (or, condone violence) whether our target is a child or an adult, we kill ourselves, our humanity more and more. We bring pain and suffering to everyone who loved and cherished the life we took. Shame and despair to those who love and cherish us.
We become "disconnected" from our essence and blind to the fact that, whether we like it or not, we are all part of the whole, of a bigger picture. Just like each cell and organ in our body makes up our physical being, each one of us is an essential component of life. Just like each drop of water is part of the ocean, so are we part of the whole. As the great poet-philosopher John Donne once said, "No man is an island." No one is "dispensable" . . . We are all indispensable! We were not born to be killing each other but to bring forth more life and safeguard its sanctity. Everything else, all our "excuses" and so-called "justification" for killing are deception.
Until each and every human being on earth understands that by harming others we are betraying ourselves and purpose, slapping our Creator on the face, annihilating our own, destroying our "selves" and what makes us "special", "privileged" among other life forms, we will never have peace on earth.
I challenge you to experience your humanity for one day. Relate to everyone you encounter without any labels! See each individual as a human being only. Can you do it? Come back and tell us about your experience and how it felt for you.
Copyright 2004-2005 Barbara Hidalgo aka SoulfulWriter.
Barbara is an essayist, poet, editor and publisher with a background in broadcast journalism. She is dedicated to writing thought-provoking pieces and assisting new authors with their craft. Visit Soulful Writers' Publications for more of hers and other authors' work under "Connections."