Recently, I attend a viewing of a documentary called “Across the Divide.” The film tells the story of students attending Bethlehem University in the Middle East. It’s a Catholic school run by the De La Salle Christian brothers in a place where Christians are a minority and their movement is restricted.
The film project began when Salt + Light offered to create a promotional video for Bethlehem University. But while the film crew was on campus for a 3 or 4 day shoot, university administrators got a call informing them that one of their female students had been detained at an Israeli checkpoint. The tense situation turned a promo video into a filmmaker’s dream, and a documentary was born.
The documentary does a good job of representing the views of both Palestinians and Israelis. But it left me feeling less than hopeful about peace for the Middle East.
Brother Peter Bray, the Vice Chancellor and CEO of Bethlehem University who spoke throughout the film, was also present at the Washington, DC viewing. He’s from New Zealand and has a charming Kiwi accent that I fell in love with while training for BodyFlow and traveling around his homeland last year.
After viewing “Across the Divide,” Peter Bray addressed the crowd. Even though I was named after a saint, I’m not religious. But I’ve heard my fair share of sermons, and this guy was compelling.
His moving message was that peace between the Palestinians and Israelis will come. He can’t visualize how peace can happen or how to get there, but he knows it will come. On its own, that message sounds like hokey misdirected hope and faith.
But he went on to cite the examples of Ireland, South Africa, and Germany — other countries with massive conflicts in the past that have peace today. At the times of the conflicts in those countries, peace didn’t seem possible. And yet, it arrived.
These concrete examples appealed to me as a person of fact and reason, rather than faith. His speech also made me think about my situation and how I can’t visualize my future. I’m still waiting for my vision. But if Peter Bray, who lives and works amidst the violence and chaos in the Middle East, is sure that peace will come, shouldn’t I have some hope that my path will come?
- Have the words of an inspirational speaker convinced you of something that seems farfetched?
- Do you think peace in the Middle East is possible?
- Are you a person of faith or reason?