Go And… Have THE Conversation, Middle East Conflict

by Gretchen Ahrens, Director for Youth and Justice Ministries at the Nebraska Synod

As conflict continues to rage in the Middle East, we invite you to read this interview with Holocaust survivor Estelle Laughlin who provides a unique perspective on understanding the pain of both sides. Share the article and then discuss  with friends, family members or members of your congregation.

Read the Article

Questions and thoughts  for discussion:

Laughlin  talks about the suffering her family endured during the Holocaust and her mother’s empathy towards those who “imposed suffering upon her”

“And I couldn’t understand,” she says, “how could she have sympathy for somebody who chased her out of her little shtetl?” Somehow, her mother identified with the suffering of those who’d imposed suffering upon her. “And that amazed me.”

How can we be empathetic, not just towards those who are suffering but those who impose suffering? How can we identify with everyone’s suffering?

Laughlin says she’s holding the Jewish pain of this war alongside the Palestinian pain. “When the dignity of any human being is diminished, the dignity of all humanity is diminished,” she says. “Not only in relationship to my community but to any community of innocent people being attacked.”

How do we maintain the dignity of ALL human beings? How do we see outside of just our community to recognize “any community of innocent people being attacked”

At the end of the article, Laughlin says she longs for a better way forward where “people will listen to their wiser parts, their kinder parts and find a resolution.”

How can we, as followers of Christ, live out this wisdom in our own lives and in our own day to day conflicts?

A Prayer:

God of the universe, you call us to listen. You call us to identify with suffering and uphold the dignity of all humans. Help us to have the difficult conversations and to care for all. Guide us to be, like Laughlin,  “maintained by an enduring sense of compassion and a love for humanity.” Amen