Recently I was reading an opinion piece on the increasing conflict zones in the Middle East.. One quote from the author that really caught my attention was when he said, “there will come a moment in history where Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Israelis, Kurds an others, Sunnis and Shiites, Christians and Jews and atheists will be utterly exhausted before they realize that in a ‘war against all’ everyone loses. I shudder when I think that I will not see that moment of bliss in my lifetime.”
As I thought about this statement, I was reminded of a photo I took last summer. It was taken on a perfect Midwest summer day when some friends and I had gathered together for a backyard BBQ. We ate a ton of great food, told stories and laughed. There were kids everywhere, who seamlessly fell into the rhythms of youthful friendship. The boys were quickly playing football, then soccer, then basketball. While most of the girls enjoyed the swing set (at least until the boys became eager for their attention)
Even with all of the excitement, and despite their best efforts at sabotage, we somehow corralled the kids to take this picture.
At first glance, this is just a typical photo from a typical BBQ (taken by a very amateur Photographer, me) But there is something special hidden behind all those little smiles. You see these kids and their parent’s are Iraqi, American, Somali, Muslim, Christian, Sunni and Shia. And they are also friends.
These families have been building and nurturing these friendships not just on this day but for many years. Embracing each other as neighbors, experiencing new cultures and traditions, and Loving each other.
For many people, however, the labels I mentioned (Iraqi, American, Somali, Muslim, Christian, Sunni and Shia) should prevent these lifelong meaningful friendships from happening. Believing, even preaching, that division, mistrust and misunderstanding should reign. A world where the way of Loving each other as neighbors is ineffective, naïve or just the foolish result of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.
But these families are telling a very different story. One that is filled with happy and helpful memories. A story who’s Author shows us the importance and impact of the way of Loving each other as neighbors. Leading to moments of bliss like the one captured in this photo.
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