This I Believe

Shikma - Austin, Texas
Entered on May 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: peace

I believe in coexistence. However, when I talk to my mom and she asks me if I think this can be achieved, I hesitate. Yes…No.

I answer yes, because at the age of seven I was a witness to an historic moment in my country, a moment that many thought would never come. That country is Israel and the moment was the day that a peace treaty was signed between Israel and Jordan. For many years these two countries were enemies, because of conflict of ideologies and religions, land and property. But on October 26, 1994 in the Arava Valley of Israel, these conflicts and these differences came to an end. I remember it so clearly; the school was released early so we could all go and watch the live broadcast on television. This day was like a national holiday: balloons in the colors of each country, red, green, black, blue and white, were flying together everywhere. It was on this day when I realized that peace can be achieved if people stopped focusing on the differences between them and rather on the similarities among them.

But this belief was quickly challenged when the man that signed this peace treaty, Yitzchak Rabin, was assassinated in a peace rally. This went against everything I believed in. My belief is further challenged when I turn on the television and see the destruction that is going on in the world today: civil wars, acts of terrorism, murder, and suicide. Therefore, my answers to my mom’s question quickly turns from a yes to a no. It is a no because of the innocent people who die because of a terrorist act in a mall or a bus. It is a no because of the fact the young children are taught to kill. It is a no because walls are being built between national boundaries instead of being torn down.

As this conversation with my mom continues, she brings up a good point, which is that in order for peace to occur, both sides must want it. This is where my belief comes from. Conflicting parties need to want peace and to work together for the common purpose of peace. I believe in coexistence because without this belief what are we, all of us, fighting for. The most important lesson I was taught as a child was to never, ever, stop believing in peace and to never doubt the power of human willingness. It was human willingness that helped put forty-six years of conflict, between Israel and Jordan, aside and move toward a compromise. Therefore, whenever this belief is challenged I remember that October day when the impossible was made possible. I believe in coexistence because it is only through this that the world can change, that we can finally live in peace. This I believe.