Elegant Truth: We Can Live with That
Patricia Smith Melton
Peace X Peace Founder
These are my thoughts on answers to conflict before a series of Peace X Peace-sponsored screenings of the documentary Within the Eye of the Storm featuring an Israeli and a Palestinian father whose young daughters were killed in the ongoing violence. The screenings will be in the DC area February 21 to 26. In their grief the two fathers, who will be presenting at the screenings along with the director, went from being enemy fighters to best friends.
Scientific truth has elegance about it. Elegance is a hallmark of truth having been found, answers revealed and suddenly obvious. How many angels on the head of a pin? The number needed for the most elegant, harmonious dance. Find the formula for that and you will have found the truth of angels on the heads of pins.
Perhaps the conflicts of our world are more complex than angels on pins, perhaps not; but I know they are not solved by complex answers. They are solved by elegant simple truths that we are too thick headed to see. We are struggling creatures.
And sometimes the very breadth of the information we have baffles us. When we know so much – the historical wounds, the power machinations, the conflicting “God-given” tenets of religions, the old grudges turned into political strangleholds – when we know so much, we cannot express enough even to explain the dynamics of a situation, let alone find ways to solve its problems. The burden of details and divergence is beyond our capacity to synthesize, to tell others, to explain, to gather people together for common cause, to find solutions or break stalemates.
When this is so, there is no answer except to look for the elegant answer, the simple truths that gift themselves like the song of a bird over a warfield the day after – or if not the day after then eventually, hopefully returning, because Mother Earth hasn’t yet given out completely.
When the information is so large it cannot be processed internally or unstuck externally, we must look for the elegant solution that cuts through, the gifted message, the line, a string that, followed, will show us a passage out of the maze.
I wish I could find it now. Stay with me as I search. Search with me.
Is the line: Despite the destruction, wounding, and violence, many people still have faith and some people reach across it all to find each other?
Is the line: Despite the clanging, and retracting, and lying, and deception, most people still wish to do good – and many of them do?
Which lines give us hope to continue? Which messages give us more than hope, give us inspiration, clarity, light – a light that vaporizes boogeymen as phantoms and shows us we are looking at ourselves when we look at others?
Which lines do the seeming impossible of breaking through our projections onto others so we understand that when we have met the enemy what we see is us?
Which lines do that with such elegance and effective softness that we can understand and accept that “the enemy” is our projection of ourselves unto other?
The liars I have met assume others lie. The cheaters I have met assume others cheat. The violent people I have met assume violence is coming their way. And they are afraid. We are all afraid.
What message reveals us to ourselves and does it with such grace that we can see and accept its truth and not feel so exposed and vulnerable that we shut it out, deny it, rail against it, and entrench ourselves deeper?
What message reaches those of us who live in such fear – or greed – that we actively cultivate fear, accusation, and division in others, who believe in the power and sale of weapons, who believe in axis of evil and accept killing innocents as collateral damage, who build walls and impose blockades?
It is okay to shake in our boots. It is okay to feel vulnerable. It is more than okay to understand that humbleness is a natural state of recognition of truth, both the awesome and the terrible. Humbleness is an honest state in an expanding universe of hundreds of billions of galaxies.
What larger truth makes vulnerability safe for us? What elegance rings true beyond our fears? What line gets us out of the maze of our personal projections? Let’s try a few:
Your best self is the person you need at your side.
More important than how you go through life is how life goes through you.
Religion is scaffolding, love is substance.
Palestinians and Israelis are both Semitic people, they have the same sense of humor, eat the same foods, like the same music, and usually love each other when they finally meet.
Love, once given, expands.
When unsure, create beauty. When frightened, feel your feet touching the ground. When undecided, breathe.
Did we find some? Tell me yours. Write them, send them, dig deep, listen well.
Oh…and then there’s Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That’s a keeper.
February 21-26 Peace X Peace is sponsoring screenings in the DC area of the new documentary Within the Eye of the Storm, featuring Rami Elhanan, Israeli, and Bassam Aramin, Palestinian, whose daughters were killed by a suicide bomber and an Israeli soldier. The two men and the director of the film, Shelley Hermon, will be with us in venues that include a mosque, a church, the National Press Club, a Peace Café, a university, and Capitol Hill.
These two grieved fathers were once capable of killing each other, a soldier and a political prisoner. Now they are best friends. They became best friends because all other reactions were outmoded, unworkable, too complex, not complete. They found the elegant solution of finding their humanity in each other’s humanity.
At heart, it is simple.
What is your message? What can you tell us?
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