Wilderness = Arad? I would say yes, after my trip to the Democratic School today in Arad.
We were invited by one of our women’s group participants (who works at the school) to come and explain to the kids what Musalaha does and why its work in reconciliation is so important.
The school was full of home-made tables and cabinets, and the kids were encouraged to arrange the room and clean it themselves. They had futon-type couches, a few low coffee tables to write on, and carpets in case they wanted to get on the floor.
Our first ice-breaker with the class of 12-18-year olds was to give your name and an animal that you love or feel associated with. This often gets the quiet ones talking, and today it worked well. There were lots of cat and dog lovers, but a hamster, a snake and a snail took the prize for most original.
Once we had the youth engaged, we passed out poster paper and had four groups gather to write down words they associate with “conflict”. The young people brainstormed together for 15 minutes and each group then presented their associations, such as “fighting”, “brothers and sisters” and “war”. After everyone had a chance to share, I asked them, “How many of these words are negative?” They agreed that most of the words they wrote were negative.
When we then discussed WHY people enter into conflict, they found that it’s not only because there’s a disagreement, as one of the youth brought up, but also, “It’s when that disagreement rises to the point of war,” another student said. “No, it is a disagreement that is very important to me and I am willing to fight for it,” another young person responded. This voice calling in the wilderness was 12 years old. The kids impressed me with their wise insight, and I continued the workshop’s teaching:
People enter into conflict when one of their core needs as a human is not being met; either finding meaning in life, need for physical or financial security, or freedom of expression and movement. These are the things fueling the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians today, and in fact, conflicts around the whole world.
As we discussed conflict and the basis for it with the classroom, we came to the conclusion that conflict is natural – but it’s how we choose to deal with it, so that both sides can win, that is the real challenge. That is the real calling.
– A Musalaha staff member.