This week the world watched as once again, ancient cousins, the children of Isaac and the children of Ishmael, stood face to face in enmity and warfare. From our dinner tables to the Internet, the world argues and agonizes over this most gnarly of geopolitical conflicts. What is the answer? Who is wrong? Who is the victim? What should we do? Try as many do to sort out an answer, our best thinking runs up every time against the brick wall of failed solutions.
Indeed, that is the point. "Our best thinking" is simply not good enough. The mortal mind alone cannot devise an answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because the true answer lies on a level of consciousness that's beyond our mortal thinking. Quite simply, when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, we need a miracle. There will be no political solution until an opening of the heart occurs that simply doesn't exist en masse as yet. It's very difficult to get whole nations to forgive. Yet nothing short of forgiveness will sort this out.
Viewing Israelis and Palestinians from a psychological perspective, they would both be seen as victims of abuse; that is how they both understandably feel, and it's how they both understandably behave. The Jewish psyche is in victimized reaction to the Holocaust, and the Palestinian psyche is in victimized reaction to the Israelis. Two beings -- or, in this case, sets of beings -- dwell within the still-unprocessed pain of abuse, thus remaining emotionally incapable of truly bearing witness to the suffering of the other. And so like children, but in very dangerous ways, they keep hitting at the other, as though to say, "Stop hurting me! Stop hurting me!" And so the hurt goes on.
Some see such analysis as having no place within a serious political debate, as though maybe one more round of negotiations, or one more round of elections, or one more round of killings will yet make the difference. But the mindset of humanity is evolving beyond the mythology of the to-do list, that too-often-false belief that if we just knew what to do about a problem, then we could do it and all would be resolved. Americans, particularly, have the tendency to do very well with a to-do list but become almost dithering when a problem demands more rethinking than redoing.
In fact, what we think about a problem is as important as what we do about it, for everything we do is infused with the consciousness with which we do it. The state of our being is as important as the state of our doing, and internal breakthroughs are necessary before permanent external breakthroughs can occur. Allopathic doctors used to laugh condescendingly at those who posited that psychological, emotional and spiritual factors were important contributors to the sickness as well as healing of the body. But they rarely laugh anymore. Similarly, the holistic paradigm is now beginning to permeate our understanding of political issues; external problems often demand more than external remedies in society, as well. There will be no resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without addressing the internal wounds that are causing the insanity.
Those who support the emergence of a nonviolent political conversation make our biggest contribution by suggesting a different way of viewing the world, and particularly of viewing each other. No one seen through the eyes of guilt can ever be our partner in peace.
Anyone who thinks they are ultimately serving either Israelis or Palestinians by simplistically arguing that the other is the bad guy is only contributing to the adversarial stance that is itself the problem. From a spiritual perspective -- and a nation "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" should know this -- Israelis and Palestinians were created equal and should be loved equally. When that radical notion -- yes, equality and love are radical ideas -- becomes more than theory but rather a visceral stand, then the shift in thinking it represents will literally part the waters of blood now raging between the two.
Yet how do we see ourselves as one with someone whom we fear, who both hurt us in the past and might hurt us in the future? Without forgiveness, it cannot be done. Yet it is the brave and courageous souls among both Palestinians and Israelis who are advocating just such a solution as this -- and there are many such people -- who represent the vanguard of peacemaking in the region. Any individual, and any government, interested in a real and lasting solution should heed such leaders, for they are the heralds of the only true peace.
If the present is to evolve in the direction of a sustainable future -- if we're serious about the notion at all -- then our politics must evolve, as well. The United States should do more than support a "two-state solution." The United States should support forgiveness and love. I believe the Israelis have been wronged, but they also have a lot to apologize for. And I believe the Palestinians have been wronged, but they have a lot to apologize for, as well. There are Israelis and Palestinians who understand this, who have taken this stance within their hearts and repeated it verbally to the other. But the United States continues to stand for political and military solutions that do not necessarily promote justice, do not promote brotherhood and therefore do not promote an ultimate peace. The Western power structure clings staunchly to its externalized worldview, despite all evidence pointing to the inadequacy of this worldview as a problem-solving modality. If and when the United States is serious about promoting peace in the Middle East, it will invite representatives from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas (yes, I said that), and Israel to come to the United States for a forgiveness process, in which all parties acknowledge and apologize for their transgressions toward the other, bless the children of the other and pray together for a miracle.
Of course this will not happen. But that does not mean we shouldn't suggest it. No new politics will begin until first we have a new conversation, and despite the only-to-be-expected trivialization of such ideas by today's power elite, those who embrace the notion of nonviolence and soul force will do the quietly powerful work of saying it nonetheless.