While there are many topics that students ask me to discuss, I cannot stop thinking about the terrible situation in the Middle East, and the impact on all people, especially the children. Since this topic is highly emotional and polarizing around the world, many people shy away from discussing it. However, I strongly believe leaders need to be able to openly discuss all sides of any issue if we want to make progress…so here are a few thoughts.
I just finished reading last week’s issue of The Economist, with the very accurate cover title, “Where Will This End?” There is clearly a need for strong values-based leadership. The lead article states, “Only America can pull the Middle East back from the brink. The stakes could hardly be higher.”
I believe The Economist article summarizes the role the U.S. must play: “[Biden’s] analysis must start with the need for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis and a recognition that there can be none as long as Hamas governs Gaza….Israel needs to show that its fight is with the terrorists, not the people of Gaza…It should support a new Palestinian constitution and new elected leaders…The more Israel shows the Arab world that it is serious about protecting civilians and planning for the day after, the more likely Arab leaders are to play their part.” Clearly none of this will be easy, which is exactly why we need VALUES-BASED LEADERS!!
I received many comments in response to my post last week, Starting with a prayer (Part 1). Many mentioned the need to pray and to have a balanced perspective. One friend mentioned that he was asked, “What side are you taking in this war?”, and he responded, “I am on the side of all HUMANITY. We are all God’s children.”
I also had a wonderful discussion with a very good friend who is originally from Turkey. When I asked him his perspective on the Middle East situation and how we should best react to the horrible carnage and how we should treat one another, he told me a story that really touched me. At the time of the 9/11 attacks, he was a student in Austin, Texas and worried about how he would be treated as a Muslim. He told me that every Friday as he attended his religious service at the Austin mosque, a large group of Christian and Jewish community members held hands and made a circle around the small mosque to let my friend and his colleagues know they would be safe.
He reminded me that accepting one another, regardless of our faith, was not something new in America. He shared a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”
I will continue to pray for everyone in the Middle East!