"For hatred can never put an end to hatred; love alone can." The Dhammapada
All over the Internet, Facebook feeds and email inboxes are posts about the conflict in Gaza.
Everyone is very upset. Some are upset that their side is being misrepresented. Others are upset that they don't know which side to call their own. Everyone is upset about the deaths.
People search for someone to blame. But listen, say you were born in Israel. If you had been born 10 miles to the west, you would be in Gaza City -- would you have a completely different belief system then? If you had been born a hundred miles west, you would be on a fishing boat bound for Cyprus. Would you find another enemy there?
If we take the miraculous accident of our birth locations to be the defining fact of our existence, how can there be any other result but war? Whatever tribe we land in becomes our truth, not the light in our hearts.
When was the last time a Jew personally talked with a Palestinian or vice versa? And by talked, I don't mean lectured them about their side's rightness until the other bowed to the superior wisdom. That doesn't work. Have you ever to this point in your life talked your truth into someone else? Have you ever seen a cable newscaster or guest talk his or her truth into someone else? It doesn't happen. Instead, what if we went and met or e-met with this Palestinian or Jew and listened? Just listened. Let them share their grievances. Encouraged them to share the emotions behind their grievances. Are they afraid? Are they angry? Let them be. Let them speak until they have nothing more to say, even if it takes days. Did you get the names of their children? Their favorite movie?
Then take your turn.
You'll say this won't do anything. You probably are right. But a couple things to consider: Has the other way ever worked? The way of resolving disagreements with bombs? And more importantly, if this doesn't work, if it fails spectacularly, then while it fails we have the honor of being or aspiring to be our most loving, kind, humble selves. To reach the end of our time with kindness in our heart is the greatest accomplishment in this life, the only one that truly matters. I work in hospice and can report from there that to die full of forgiveness and gratitude is worth more than all the stock markets in the world.
You may say it's too late for that. Too much blood has been spilled. But isn't that all the reason to try? We read of these 8-year-old children dying of cancer whose last days are filled with grace and awe. Was it too late for them?
Going about this way honors ourselves because it is true to who we are. Our DNA is 99.99 percent identical. We all want love and to be cared for and to care for others. Raise us together and we will think the same. The great tragedy of these conflicts is we take the .01 percent difference to mean more than all we share.
Or I'm wrong. We can go on killing each other and keeping body counts.
But to those who don't want to do that, please reach out and listen to one another. Astonish each other with your compassion and kindness. Ask each other your children's names.
We can't wait for politicians or armies to solve these conflicts. Their power is based on fear. They have worked to their positions of prominence on false premises, namely that everything depends on where they were born. And that life, so narrowly defined, can be won. And that the inner light that shines in all of us depends not on love but on molding external circumstances, be it by votes or money or bombs.
Please don't fall for that. Again: Don't let the miraculous accident of your birth location be the defining fact of your existence.
Instead, let your love be.