Time Travel Tuesday~ Originally published in August 2007
Tucked away on the Mount of Olives lives Ibrahim. His home is open to anyone, for any reason. He embraces travelers, spiritual pilgrims, volunteers, students (and a multitude of stray cats) regardless of their race, religion or nationality. This is my home for the next two weeks.
My housemates vary each day but their stories are nothing short of fascinating. Currently, this dwelling is home to a French gardener, a nun, two French travelers, one British peacemaker, a Belgian volunteer and ten college students from the United States (5 of whom are fellow Tar heels).
Ibrahim believes that no one should want for food or shelter and spends many hours cooking for all his house guests. Large batches of rice and lentils, hummus and pita, pasta and potatoes decorate the large table which occupies much of the kitchen and the guests eat in small packs. We gather around to share stories, debate politics and listen to Ibrahim tell stories of traveling the world to spread his message of peace.
He works with religious and spiritual leaders from all religions and they gather often to work towards mending the divide that grows each day within the borders of Israel/Palestine.
His approach is simple.
‘If the money used to make walls and wars were given to the people in need, there would be no more fighting. If I have food and I don’t have to make work, I’m happy, I won’t fight you; what would we fight about? Why should one man make one million in a day when another man makes less than a dollar?’
Some may argue the economics and simplicity of this approach towards world peace, but at its roots, the theory makes a good deal of sense. If a man can provide for his family and has the ability to do so without interference from an occupying force or his own government, there remains little reason to fight. When young men are given a chance at a hopeful future and are allowed to engage in productive activities and are given a purpose and a means to support themselves, they have little reason to bear arms and engage in violence to achieve what they believe is a viable future.
Starve the youth of their future, force a man to watch his family face famine, separate a community with walls and check points, dehumanize the identity of a citizen in their homeland, withhold the ability to seek knowledge, deny the freedom of speech and dialogue and you will see violence, you will see conflict and you will see bloodshed.
Mother’s will see their children die for the glimmer of hope that a revolution may provide. Families will watch their loved ones die violently because a community is filled with hatred and misunderstanding. Children will be orphaned because the leaders of another country want to possess and control a resource within their lands. Wives will bury their husbands because their government wants to gain a profit from the military machine.
Ibrahim points to the younger listeners at the dinner table, ‘So it is up to you, the young people, to change these things. To stop this war, to stop the violence. It is up to the mothers to stand up to their leaders and say ‘don’t send my child so far away from me. Don’t send my son to a distant land to die.’ Soldiers should protect borders of countries; they should not go far away to a land where they do not know the language or the people and fight. It’s up to you, the young people, the mothers.’
And yes, it is up to us. We will carry the burden of correcting the faults of our leadership. The dangerous foreign policies that our governments implement will be ours to repair and we will have to answer for the pain and suffering our governments are causing throughout the world. And maybe it is time for the women of the world to stand up and say stop killing our children.
Maybe the women of the world do bear the burden of repairing the damage done by the powerful men of leadership. For, as my host pointed out, every man has a connection to a women, they see them as their mother, as the nurturer as the one that provided both life and love.
Is it possible that the strong men of power can be reached through the gentle yet reinforcing hand of the mother?