Reflection from village in the Holy Land

"There are soldiers in the village," came the call. There, right by our house in the village of At-Tuwani, where Christian Peacemaker Teams has had a presence since 2004, we saw an Israeli military jeep and humvee. Soldiers were standing on the street with guns drawn.

The villagers ignored the soldiers. They continued their work. One person was building a little planter for flowers. One was working on a house. They were a threat to no one.

We were worried, but it turned out the soldiers had made a wrong turn and were having difficulty turning around on our narrow road. They did get their vehicles turned around and they quickly left the village.

How sad. The soldiers were afraid when there was nothing to fear. They were prepared to shoot our neighbors to protect themselves. They didn't need to have their guns drawn. They could have come into the village in a friendly, peaceful way, as many Israeli peace activists have done, and the villagers might have warmly welcomed them.. The villagers could have given them simple directions so that they would not have needed to turn around. They could have had tea together. They could have shared stories about their families. They could have listened to each other's pain. They could have become friends.

instead, they left, having talked to nobody, without giving or receiving anything. They may even have been relieved to get out of the village, to get away from the people they feared. I wish those soldiers could experience the love and joy that I experience with the villagers in At-Tuwani. I wish we could put away our guns and our missiles, and open ourselves to worlds to which we have been closed. There is a beautiful, good world out there.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, visit:

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