An Open Letter to Our World:
IS THERE, REALLY AND TRULY,
NO WAY TO STOP THIS?
My dear Sisters and Brothers on this Journey of the Soul…
The subject of my letter to you today has to do with what is happening now in Gaza.
It would take—even by Internet standards, which allows for much more material to be presented at one time than any newspaper or magazine possibly could—voluminous screen space requiring endless scrolling through paragraph after paragraph of narrative for the reasons behind the violence in Gaza to be fully explored.
And without wishing to seem dismissive of the positions of either side in the long-simmering and too-frequently erupting dispute between Hamas (the quasi political/military organization which effectively governs the Gaza Strip) and the State of Israel, the situation can fairly be described as a case where both sides are “right” and both sides are “wrong.”
Sadly, both sides can acknowledge only the first case, and refuse to admit to even the slightest instance where the second case may be true. And so, while both sides endlessly pontificate on why they are “right” to do what they are doing (Israel bombarding the intensely crowded Gaza Strip in this most recent uprising with 4,600 air strikes, Hamas bombarding Israel with 3,200 rockets fired into Israeli territory), a reported 1,700 people—85% of whom have been civilians, including well over 500 women and children—have been killed in Gaza.
An article on Wikipedia quotes the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as saying that as of 3 August 2014 in the Gaza Strip, over 485,000 Palestinians had been displaced, of which 269,793 were taking shelter in 90 UNRWA schools. (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.)
“UNRWA has exhausted its capacity to absorb displaced persons,” the Wikipedia article said, “and overcrowding in shelters risks the outbreak of epidemics. 1.8 million people are affected by a halt or reduction of the water supply, 141 schools and 26 health facilities have been damaged, 945 homes (10,690 families) have been totally destroyed or severely damaged and the homes of 5,435 families have been damaged but are still inhabitable.”
“Throughout the Gaza Strip, people receive only 3 hours of electricity per day. The destruction of Gaza’s only power plant had an immediate effect on the public health situation and reduced water and sanitation services, with hospitals becoming dependent on generators. More than 485,000 internally displaced persons are in need of emergency food assistance.”
The article noted that 64 soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) have been reported killed in the current fighting, as well as two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker.
This violent conflict between Hamas and Israel has been going on for decades, as I noted earlier (and as I know you are all aware). Nothing can stop it but a change in consciousness. As Rabbi Michael Lerner noted in a commentary Aug 3 at www.Salon.Com:
“The basic reality is that most of humanity has always heard a voice inside themselves telling them that the best path to security and safety is to love others and show generosity, and a counter voice that tells us that the only path to security is domination and control over others.
“This struggle between the voice of fear and the voice of love, the voice of domination/power-over and the voice of compassion, empathy and generosity, have played out throughout history and shape contemporary political debates around the world. Because almost every single one of us hears both voices, we are often torn between them, oscillating in our communal policies and our personal behavior between these two worldviews and ways of engaging others.
“As the competitive and me-first ethos of the capitalist marketplace has grown increasingly powerful and increasingly reflected in the culture and worldviews of the contemporary era, more and more people bring the worldview of fear, domination and manipulation of others into personal lives, teaching people that the rationality of the marketplace with its injunction to see other human beings primarily in terms of how they can serve our own needs and as instrumental for our own purposes, rather than as being deserving of care and respect just for who they are and not for what they can deliver for us, this ethos has weakened friendships and created the instability in family life that the right has so effectively manipulated (a theme I develop most fully in reporting in my book The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country From the Religious Right on my years as a psychotherapist and principal investigator of an National Institute of Mental Heath study of stress and the psychodynamics of daily life in Western societies).”
Rabbi Lerner believes that the State of Israel, in its continuing attacks on Gaza that are killing civilians, including many hundreds of women and children, has stepped away from the fundamental ethics and spiritual principles of Judaism itself. You will find his complete commentary on this subject here.
For its part, Israel claims that Hamas is using civilians as “human shields” to ward off attacks by the IDF on what Israel has defined as important military or strategic-planning assets of Hamas. Hamas denies the claim.
Is there any way to end this cycle of violence that has engulfed Israel and Gaza for decades—and, indeed, has become a characteristic of life in many, many other places across the planet? Is violence and killing the only way we humans know how to resolve our most severe differences?
I know I keep asking the same question here, but I am asking you—all of you in the Global Conversation—to have your say here, to speak your truth, to add to the energy of An Answer that might then be heard, considered, spread, and shared by people around the world.
And while we are considering our response, may we gently ask…where are the spiritual leaders of our world? Where is the Pope? Where is the voice of the Archbishop of Canterbury? Where is the Chief Rabbi? Where is the statement from a globally respected Ulama? Can we do nothing but pray? Can these leaders do nothing but “urge peace”? Is there nothing more substantive that they can say?
The problem in the world today is not a military problem, and it is not a political problem, and it is not an economic problem. The problem in the world today is a spiritual problem—and it can only be solve by spiritual means. It has to do with what we believe as human beings about human beings…and about God…and about Life Itself, its purpose and its function.
Here’s a vital question: Is it possible—just possible—that there is something we do not fully understand here, about God, about Life, and about Who We Are…the understanding of which would change everything?
Who among the world’s most influential people will ask this question in a public forum? Where is our world’s spiritual leadership? Where is our world’s political leadership? Must the only ones speaking the truth, and publicly asking the vital questions, be Internet Bloggers????
Neale Donald Walsch
P.S. Oh, and wait. You have to see this. You just really and truly have to. You want to know why our whole world is becoming more and more violent every day? Read THIS.