Celebrating the Peace-Makers

Carol A. Hand

This morning I awoke early, feeling the urgency to finish writing something I began before going to sleep in the wee hours. It was a rambling incoherent reflection that explained my absence from WordPress this week.

There are days when “real world” responsibilities keep me away from blogging – preparing courses, working on a book manuscript, paying bills, chipping ice from my sidewalk and driveway, buying groceries, and weaving new social networks. Other times, I need to retreat and re-energize, taking time to balance and reflect. Especially now. The fear, anger, and divisiveness are palpable, even virulent at times. It’s a delicate balancing act to remain hopeful and objective in tumultuous times.

This evening when it was movie time for my parakeet, Queenie, I opted to explore dramas based on real life on Netflix. Queenie prefers movies with music. So the first choice, toward the end of a long list, was the movie “The Idol,” the story of Palestinian singer Muhammed Assaf. The second was among the recommended videos when our first movie ended, “East Jerusalem West Jerusalem.” The movie chronicles David Broza’s initiative to bring Israeli, Palestinian, and American musicians together to produce an album. Both were hopeful examples of artists using their gifts to spread a message of peace and human connections.

Today, while the USA erupts into divisiveness, it seems fitting to celebrate the artists and peacemakers among us who focus on reaching across borders to unite people in our shared humanity.

The Idol” by writer-director Hany Abu-Aassad tells the story of Muhammed Assaf whose talent as a gifted singer gained worldwide recognition despite the oppressive reality of life in Gaza that he was able to escape.  Through his art, Assaf raises awareness about oppression and possibilities.

Following is a video that highlights Assaf’s work.

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem,” directed by Henrique Cymerman and Erez Miller, follows David Broza’s work bringing artists together across cultural divides (Israeli, Palestinian, and American) to collaborate on an album in a recording studio in Arab (East) Jerusalem. “Over eight days, the artists build cultural bridges, finding common ground through their music and their commitment to peace.” (Skirball.org)

Following is a video of David Broza’s account of the process.

The video and lyrics from one of the songs on the album, Jerusalem by Steve Earle, underscore the contributing artists’ shared commitment to peace and unity.

“Jerusalem”
By Steve Earle

I woke up this mornin’ and none of the news was good
And death machines were rumblin’ ‘cross the ground where Jesus stood
And the man on my TV told me that it had always been that way
And there was nothin’ anyone could do or say

And I almost listened to him
Yeah, I almost lost my mind
Then I regained my senses again
And looked into my heart to find

That I believe that one fine day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem

Well maybe I’m only dreamin’ and maybe I’m just a fool
But I don’t remember learnin’ how to hate in Sunday school
But somewhere along the way I strayed and I never looked back again
But I still find some comfort now and then

Then the storm comes rumblin’ in
And I can’t lay me down
And the drums are drummin’ again
And I can’t stand the sound

But I believe there’ll come a day when the lion and the lamb
Will lie down in peace together in Jerusalem

And there’ll be no barricades then
There’ll be no wire or walls
And we can wash all this blood from our hands
And all this hatred from our souls

And I believe that on that day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem

It’s easy to divide people. The divisiveness will continue to be trumpeted and fomented by mainstream and social media today and for months to come. However, I wish to celebrate another possibility today by honoring the peace-makers who grace the world. I realize there are many ways to deal with these times.

While some are celebrating the US presidential inauguration and others are protesting, I’ll be at home chipping the ice that still covers my sidewalk and driveway if weather permits and working on a PowerPoint for the first meeting of the social justice course I’m co-teaching tomorrow. I’m grateful to artists like Muhammed Assaf and David Broza who use their talents to promote peace and unity.

How can one remain uninspired by their examples? I do question if it’s possible for us to find common ground. For the sake of my grandchildren, I know I have to continue trying. And I know I’m not alone.

***

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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19 Responses to Celebrating the Peace-Makers

  1. Carol, I join you in celebrating the peace-makers that walk among us and use their words and talents to spread peace. As you already know, the borders that exist between us are the ones that we create.

    Let peace begin with me ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bernadette says:

    No Carol, I don’t see any borders either. In the words of John Lennon, “give peace a chance”.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. desilef says:

    How can anyone not choose the world celebrated here?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I share your concerns about the divisiveness and greed that that rule these days. I’m grateful that the universe blessed me with examples that gave me hope I could share with others.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful posts. They help me maintain a modicum of equanimity. Seriously. I smile every time I see your name in my e-mail inbox. Your blog and a few others are a blessing to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind and lovely comments, A Shift in Consciousness. I’m deeply honored to know that my posts make you smile. Your posts inspire me and raise my awareness about issues I might otherwise miss. 🙂

      Like

  5. Kathy says:

    Thank you for posting this, Carol. It’s a good (and gentle) reminder that creative energy can be a powerful force for change, that negativity only generates more negativity. Something I needed to hear today.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to believe that there are more people interested in and invested in peace than there are hate and war mongers. It’s just that the latter are so darned noisy and attention hounds. Peaceful people tend to be quiet and calm. Our efforts are not sound byte worthy nor do they make compelling video clips. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such crucial insights about the ugly divisive messages we’re more likely to hear, Lorna. I also believe that that there are more people who want peace. So I guess we need to keep repeating the messages about truth and peace even if it’s quietly. I have sometimes noticed people’s tendency to lean forward to listen when messages are spoken in a quiet, gentle voice. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s true, Carol. I once knew a wise, elderly, gentle man. He listened more than he spoke. But when he spoke, everyone stopped their bantering and listened to his wisdom. I learned the value of listening and something Buddhists teach: if you have nothing to add to the conversation, don’t. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. JT says:

    This is a fitting post for tumultuous times in our world history. I love this music project. Music is truly a universal language and your post has inspired me to write a song on the concepts of peace, empathy, and unity. I love your blog Carol, you’re an inspiration 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. inesephoto says:

    The world needs peacemakers more than anything else. If I am not a born peacemaker, at least I can make my contribution by not adding to the negativity. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughtful and lovely comments, Inese. I honor your choice to celebrate beauty and knowledge in your work. Your posts and comments awaken curiosity, appreciation for other cultures and nature’s wonders, and perhaps most importantly, give others a reason to care and to hope.

      Liked by 1 person

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