When I found this community, I had been looking for some time to find a place where real ideas for peace would be discussed, with compassion and open hearts. I had looked at communities on My Space, Facebook and others. What I saw were people that were only there to argue that their “side” was good and the “other” evil - Not a path for creative reconciliation. I can find this all around me, in the ‘real world’, so I was seeking a space where I could ‘breath’, where I could ‘recharge’ my spirit, where people were honestly looking to understand, where I could ask the clumsy question and wouldn’t feel that I had to defend myself. Yes, a community of like minded individuals, a safe space. Perhaps I was naive to think any on-line community could truly be an instrument of compassionate dialogue, but when I found MEPeace I thought I had found just that.

But since the publicity about this site, I have seen that vision (perhaps illusion) fade. Having more people find this space has the potential for great good – I have been impressed with many of the new profiles that have been popping up over the last few days. But there have also been a vocal few that have marred this experience with their mean spirited comments. I am distressed by the posts which take words out of context, that do not make room for difficulties with language and the quasi-intellectual use of words to shame. As those voices get louder I am wondering why am I here, and I have to wonder if the many other voices we are not hearing from are also being pushed back into the shadows.

I am a Quaker, a pacifist, a peace seeker. I do not support the use of violence but that does not mean that I do not understand where violence comes from. Pain and injustice are very powerful motivators toward violence, as is the perceived lack of resources. But in the long run, violence never achieves its’ stated goals – so it hurts everyone, not just the intended victim.

Words can have the same effect. As I have felt attacked, I have also felt the need to defend myself. I have that argument with myself that says, how can I let someone else misinterpret my words for the rest of the community, how can I allow myself to be attacked, how can I let their words stand as the last testament to what I meant? Even though I claim to be a Quaker, I am also a sinner and, unfortunately don’t make the right call every time. So this is my pledge to myself; I will not respond to the dark side of others, I will seek only to acknowledge and reinforce the bringers of light to this space.

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Comment by Paul RETI on March 26, 2008 at 2:18pm
Hi Catherine

Words and ideas can be more violent than weapons.

We are only really safe in the womb, or a cocoon But is that living? :-)

By joining this place you've choosen to try to live according to your ideals and ethics, and to in some way, make a difference. Success is never guaranteed.

Trying is (in my view) the least-worst alternative.

I am the eternal optimist. :-)
Comment by Paul RETI on March 26, 2008 at 2:08pm
Hi Catherine

You wrote "When I wrote of an asymmetry of power, I was referring to state actors. You seem to be speaking of individuals".

Ethically, I do not really differentiate between the two. States are merely a group of (diverse) people . No state or group is ever monolithic. People who live within a state must accept the consequences of the actions of that state or group they are a member of. (Obviously, some who live in a state have few or no practical or viable alternatives, but such is life.)

Soundly-based generalizations can be handy for communicating ideas or making assessments, I doubt that any generalization though is ever literally true.

Unsoundly-based generalizations are the primary advocacy tools of bigots. Bigots also abuse soundly-based generalizations to manipulate their target audience. (I consider Hamas's rockets and the obviously and predictably resulting Palestinian victims as an example of the abuse of soundly-based generalizations to manipulate their target audience.

Be well...
Paul R
Comment by John Henderson on March 20, 2008 at 3:47am
Right arm! :) , Dr. Gopin and the rest of you. Good to see your wise comments Mark and I agree that "lasting friendships between people are what change history". I appreciate your friendship and your willingness to seize the moral high ground and claim it for the mutual best interest of all.
I just happened to be online after signing up for mepeace. We are developing a stand alone website for the Jerusalem Project and think that Eyal Raviv has found an excellent format to create dialogue. Wanted you to know that Muhammed Ali signed up to collaborate with the Jerusalem Project and now all we need is some comparable Jewish leader. any ideas . Call me
Comment by Marc Gopin on March 20, 2008 at 3:21am
Hi Catherine, we peacemakers have a tendency to slip way when things can violent or hurts our souls. but that is how we always surrender the public space to violent language or angry thoughts. it is inevitable that mepeace will attract some of this.i say persist and find the true spirit of so many others. we need each other, desperately. it has been my experience of twenty years in this that lasting friendships between people are what change history. this is what we can do here. god bless.
Comment by Eyal Raviv on March 16, 2008 at 11:22am
Hi Catherine, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Your feedback is appreciated. I see as a platform for peacemakers, enabling each person to voice their opinion even when it is difference than my own. I think the recent upsurge in traffic can help us generate healthier discussions and opens possibilities for sharing our thoughts of peace and non-violence. Carpe Diem.


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