There is no path to peace -- peace is the path. -- Mahatma Gandhi
Jesse and I landed back in the USA last week after our two-week traveling adventure in Israel. We're still a bit jet lagged after more than 24 hours of travel, but the lessons learned, some more obvious than others, are making their way to the surface.
Ultimately, the reason for all of our travels is to return home wiser than when we departed. I can confidently say for both of us, "Mission accomplished!"
On our very first day in Israel, two things became apparent to us, and they are clearly related. First, drivers honk much more frequently in Israel than in Arizona. Secondly, we experienced more drivers yelling in the Holy Land than we do back home.
Cousin Nira picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the ancient port city of Jaffa. Beep-beep! Honk-honk! Beep-beep! is the norm on city streets. As we tried to park in a small spot and had to block traffic for a minute, an older fellow behind us started uncontrollably screaming and waving his hands for us to get out of his way.
I'm not accustomed to being screamed at and my response was considerably less than mature. I pointed my finger at this impatient fellow and mocked his vigorous intolerance. Certainly not my best moment in the Holy Land.
I'll tell you later what I learned.
In Jerusalem, we studied at the Mayanot Institute for Jewish Studies for two days. One lesson will stick with me forever. It was a lesson on free will and how we get from a provoking stimulus to our ultimate response.
In short, the lesson from the great 12th century Judaic teacher, Maimonides, is that no matter what the input is and no matter what the input generates inside us -- at the moment of action we have the ability to be independent of our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and history.
Humans are free agents, with the ability to be untethered from internal and external influences. We are able to choose to do right or wrong, good or evil in every moment.
We are creators!
Jesse and I pondered this teaching every day thereafter.
Through the loving connection made for us by my dear friend, Bruce Lipton, Jesse and I were able to meet with Ora and Ihab, two remarkable Israeli peace warriors. They do what few others do. In their preschool, they bring together Jewish, Christian and Muslim children to learn acceptance, tolerance, understanding and love. Read more at https://www.bismilla.org/copy-of-3.
They are creators, unwilling to be tethered to the ancient norm of conflict and separation. They fed us a delicious lunch, introduced us to their diverse teaching staff and showed us their vibrant classrooms and expanding facilities.
Does every Israeli agree with their way to peace? Of course not. Do many Israelis support their efforts to create a peaceful future? Yes, they surely do.
We were honored to meet these fearless peace warriors and plan to continue our connection.
What did I learn from my encounter in the parking lot?
Israel is not Arizona. Israelis live under more pressure every day than I can ever imagine. How would I respond in their shoes? I don't know.
I do know I was a jerk in the Jaffa parking lot and hope to learn from my reactive, childish mistake.