The Limitations of Perspectives – John

3/4/2011

I am sorry it has been so long since I updated last. Since I last posted we left Bethlehem and moved to Ramallah to stay with families from Ramallah Friends School. I was a little nervous about being immersed in a group of people my age from a completely different part of the world. Yet, I quickly found that there was nothing to be nervous about. As soon as we stepped off the bus we were greeted by some of the students and they all came up and introduced themselves. Since the initial meeting we have started to get to know them better by finding connections, talking about our different cultures, and giving ourselves over to the concept that we are not all that different from each other.

We still, of course, are constantly on the move. Some of the highlights from this week have been visiting different parts of the wall, meeting Jean Zaru (clerk of Ramallah Monthly Meeting), meeting Hanan Ashrawi (legislator), meeting a settler, and visiting Jericho, the Mountain of Temptation, and the Dead Sea. Of course we have done much more, but there is simply too to put in one post.

What I have realized in my time in Ramallah is that I have no answers to this conflict. I am thinking back to the conflict resolution paper for Palestine/Israel that I had to write for one of my classes last year. I realize that if I needed to revise it after going on this trip I would throw the whole thing out and start again. I was blinded to the emotional and practical levels that play apart in this conflict. Of course, after two weeks I cannot fully grasp it still, but I have started to see the picture a little more fully.

Whenever I talk with someone about their opinions on the conflict here I have to remember the perspective I am seeing. I was talking to someone in Ramallah and they said that they hate all Jews. I didn’t really know what to say to that. I believe that is a narrow-minded and harmful thing to say, but at the same time I cannot tell him he is wrong because I understand why he said that. One of the things that I have learned on this trip is that every perspective (and there are many in this region) is both insightful and limiting. This man in Ramallah can see and feel this conflict in away that I will never be able to understand because I have not lived it. Yet, it is keeping him from understanding that not all Jews are bad and further still, not all Israelis Jews are bad. I have, of course, not only seen this from a Palestinian. Perspectives have hurt and helped Israelis we have met, other members of our group, and me. I see now that one person cannot truly understand this conflict. It is too complex and the emotions are too strong. If there is ever going to be a solution, all perspectives must open up and show everyone how they see this conflict, and must also be willing to truly listen and understand what everyone else thinks. Unfortunately this is much, much, much easier said than done. We all have our biases and we will stand behind them as long as we possibly can.

I hope to post at least one more time before flying home, but it probably won’t be until Sunday night.

Until then,

John

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