4 March 2011

catching up

Wednesday 2 March

Occasionally I am challenged by well-meaning people and feel obliged to defend my belief that peace is an achievable objective. At times I doubt myself, but not my goals, and contemplate a simple life painting, teaching, and enjoying “living the dream” that so many assume I am already doing. Then unexpectedly, something happens that reminds me that I am doing the right thing, that I am not really a lone voice, and that ideals are important.

Today, jet-lagged and stuck somewhere between New Zealand and Italy time, I am awake about three hours too soon in an English household. Luckily for me my host has an excellent library. From my bed the title “Sociolinguistics” kept beckoning me. Eventually I rose and pulled it from the shelf. It was an old book, yellowed, with tiny print. Two pages in it was hard work. Defeated, I returned it to the shelf. Near it, (how had I missed it before?) stood a newer volume, tall and slim. The title: “Between the Lines: Voices of Women engendering Peace and Democracy”. This volume, “A project initiated and coordinated by Arbeitskreis deutscher bildingsstaetten” is one that will change my life.

Today I am going to Westminster Abbey and will be meeting German, Italian, British and Polish friends there. We will remember WWII, lay wreaths for the fallen, talk about peace initiatives for youth, and wonder how we can make a difference.

Following that ceremony will be the Lighting of the Peace Torch by the Abbot of Montecassino. A large entourage from Italy will be involved.

This morning, dressed and wondering what time I should head downstairs where all is dark and quiet, I am reading about women who have overcome incredible obstacles to take part in a peace initiative. This initiative is born out of the words I hear so often at Cassino, “Never again”.

Hannelore Chiout, the initiator of the project, writes “I belong to the so-called second generation, the generation following the Perpetrators. All of my conscious political life involved the German past and German guilt. Our fathers had murdered, our mothers remained silent. Our inner commitment was “Never again!” Responsibility meant intervention. Intervention meant having our eyes open to what was wrong, in order to not close our eyes again in the face of the wrong once again” (Chiout, H. “Beyond certainty: expedition into unknown worlds” in Between the Lines, AdB 2008, p. 11).

The book documents the first ten years of a project where German, Israeli, Palestinian and Israeli-Palestinian women meet, often against all odds, and develop a space where, over time, friendship and acceptance replace political and cultural hostilities.

When I read about their work I wonder not “Is my work futile?” but “Am I working hard enough?”

Today I am grateful for women with vision.

1 comment:

Teacake said...

> When I read about their work I wonder not “Is my work futile?” but “Am I working hard enough?”

Ooooh! Nice!