Every once in a while, I’m able to catch up with one of Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers. It is always an amazing phone or Skype visit. I find that these calls serve multiple purposes. Of course, I learn what they are doing and hear about the challenges and the successes. I also hear their voices and that is a way of knowing that, at least for today, they are alright. And I hear their passion, which energizes me, leaving me inspired and grateful.
Last week, I spoke with Canon Andrew White, who works mostly in Iraq. It was good to hear his voice and to hear his remarkably positive attitude about what is going on with his congregation in Baghdad. We talked about the bombings. He told me that his people (i.e., his congregation and those it embraces) are happy. That was hard for me to imagine, but then he said something very simple about the power of faith. “When you lose everything, God’s all you have left. All they have is their faith.” From my office in New York, his words were powerful.
So is Andrew’s work – what the field calls Track II diplomacy. A few weeks ago, Andrew was able to convene Shia Ayatollahs and Jewish Israeli religious leaders for three days of talks. Such contact is, of course, a prerequisite for a mutual solution but, for Andrew, it was also truly hopeful. With considerable excitement, he shared how the Chief Rabbi – at the end of the three days together – announced, “Fear is Cancelled.” Imagine what that may one day mean. I do.
Joyce S. Dubensky