by Dennis Warner and Pierre Thompson
Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore

DSC00006The Holy Land – where Jesus walked, taught and died – is a land of great contradictions. It is a place of deep reverence for millions of people, whether Christian, Moslem or Jew, while at the same time a symbol of terror, hatred and oppression for millions more. Its soil is stained with the blood of martyrs, soldiers, bishops, rabbis, imams, children and countless ordinary people trying to make a life in this flash point of human political and religious struggle. It is a land divided by fear and weighed down by historical memories of injustice and oppression.

The Crucifixion, Crusades, Holocaust and ISIL all carry the legacy of special meanings to different faiths: the Jews crucified Jesus; the Crusaders slaughtered Moslems; Christian Germany forged the Holocaust; and radical Islam terrorizes the world. How is it that we as human beings create such dedication in warriors when it is decided that the perception of God held by others must be crushed? Taking up arms to serve God is viewed as noble and often a sure route to an eternal reward.

Human societies tend to honor the warrior, and especially so when he (or she) takes up arms in defense of deep-seated values, such as religious beliefs. We also tend to overlook, or even look down upon, the peacemaker. National myths and legends are replete with songs and stories of the warrior who with courage, cunning and determination overpowers his opponent and preserves national dignity. Less common are the legends about the poet, parent or teacher who patiently shapes bits of society into a landscape of cooperation and toleration…

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