Being able to absorb and digest the human capacity for violence and hate is very difficult. It takes a strong stomach to not turn away and a strong heart to not be overtaken by a desire for revenge. An emotional reaction to human rights abuses is inevitable and for those of us who are not actual victims, I urge an intentional will for compassion, and rejection of hate and vengeance.
I learned a lesson in compassion 25 years ago from a young Palestinian human rights attorney, Jonathan Kuttab. AFSC was touring Jonathan around the country and I took him to talk with the Jewish Federation board in Des Moines, Iowa. After listening politely to Jonathan for awhile, a woman stood and started screaming hysterically about her relatives who had been killed in the Holocaust and the Arab hatred and threat that Jews now faced in Israel. Afterwards, I told Jonathan how sorry I was about this emotional attack on him. He said, with amazing calmness, "I think this was first time she's had a chance to tell a Palestinian about her pain and fear as a Jew."
Monday, December 11, 2006
"An intentional will for compassion"
From a speech by Corrine Whitlach, Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace: