Peace From the Bottom Up

I don’t know those people. They’re different from us. They act weird. I don’t trust them. They’re stand-offish. I’m sure they hate us.

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They’re violent people. They don’t know any better. They don’t want peace; they just want to take what we have. We need to build a wall around them to keep them away from us. They’re too dangerous.

 

What will it take to bring lasting peace to the Holy Land? In a land where conflict runs so deep, peace cannot be imposed on the people as some calculated outcome of diplomatic negotiation. But perhaps it can rise up from the people themselves. Distrust, suspicion, prejudice and even hatred melt away when we get to know each other as individuals.

 

I spent some time with one of them today. She was shy but eventually we really started talking. I don’t know if all her people are like her but she seemed okay. I like her.

 

We talked about our families today. We laughed together. She’s my friend.

 

What if there was a quiet, serene place right in the cultural fault line of Jerusalem, where Christian, Jewish and Muslim young people could get to know each other as people and eventually as friends – rather than distant stereotypes and enemies?

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That’s the profoundly simple vision of Beit Benedict Peace Academy to be built on a beautifully rugged slice of land on Mt.Sion near the old city. My wife, Mary, and I had the privilege to visit the Benedictine Dormition Abbey recently with a small group from our Catholic parish in Illinois.

Beit It is breath-taking to stand on hallowed ground amidst ruins dating back to King Solomon, to think about the millennia of bloodshed and conflict that these hills have known, and to imagine an academy dedicated to peace and multi-cultural understanding.

Our location has served over the years as a neutral place for reconciliation, ecumenical meetings, inter religious encounters and peace negotiations. In a land so divided and torn by conflict, Beit Benedict Peace Academy provides a neutral space on holy ground that is found no where else in Jerusalem….Our community offers to people diverse in creed, culture and tradition an opportunity to be guided in the path of reconciliation. At the request those seeking peace we are building Beit Benedict Peace Academy.

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The Benedictine monks living here have acquired this the last piece of land on Mt.Sion that can be developed, secured building permits from the Israeli government and received approvals on architectural plans. Funds now must be raised to build and endow the academy.

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Click here to learn more about how you can support this wonderful project, truly a force for good in a troubled land.

 

- Jon Harmon

 

 

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