Returning to the States after their Encompass "Journey of Understanding" in February, US participants Derek and Jorge watched with horror as the violence erupted in the Middle East and felt that American media was failing to show the whole picture.
So they reached out to the Palestinian and Israeli friends they had made on the programme, and asked them whether they would be willing to share their personal experience of recent events on their blog, “Conscious for Change”.
Encompass programmes are all about seeking to understand, and with their blog, Derek and Jorge are helping their communities back home to understand the complexities of the conflict, to see the humanity of those involved, and to respond with compassion.
Dima from Palestine and Hadas from Israel both shared their stories. These stories are not easy to read, but Derek says, “Jorge and I feel it’s very important to share as many first-hand accounts from the area as possible, as our news networks are often unfairly biased. Regardless of the politics involved, this is a human rights issue that will hopefully be resolved before any more innocent lives are lost on both sides.”
Jorge writes “You do not have to be Muslim or Jewish, or Palestinian or Israeli to understand that too many people are dying as a result of violent attacks, while world leaders refuse to speak up appropriately.”
Going on an Encompass programme does not stop participants from having strongly held views – but it is only by communicating these views with each other that change will happen. As one of our US participants once said, “Everyone wants to change the world, but how can we change a world we don’t know about?” It’s great that Derek and Jorge are taking up the opportunity to educate themselves and their peers on the situation.