A Prayer for Peace

Recently, I keep hearing in my head the words the angels sang, “and on earth peace, good will toward men”. I am perplexed at how far we are from peace anywhere, but especially in Palestine and Israel.

I have been searching for the words to express my feelings since the start of the Israel-Hamas War on October 7th. I was saddened by the killings of over 1,000 Israeli civilians on October 7th and even more saddened by the tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians that have been killed in the aftermath of the War’s first moments.

I have begun to research the history of conflicts between Palestine and Israel and know it is not enough to say the situation is complicated. For the Palestinians and Israelis, it is not complicated. Especially now, as attacks on Palestine continue, I have come to realize the following:

– The initial attack on Israel is grounded in a decade’s long history and context that we Americans are not necessarily aware of if we do not learn more about the region and its history. The Palestinians have existed on the land for centuries and have slowly experienced that existence policed, confined, and encroached upon over the past 75 years
– Israel’s fear, trauma, and belief that it must protect itself at ALL costs, even at the cost of innocent Palestinian lives, is grounded in true and embodied memories of past atrocities against their people over centuries
– Violence only begets more violence and we as humans must begin to truly understand this and search our souls for peaceful means of moving through conflict

I recently heard an interview with an Israeli general who characterized Palestinians as wild animals. I immediately remembered that this is the same way enslaved Africans were characterized to justify their enslavement. This caused me to realize how people tend to DEHUMANIZE to justify actions I believe are counter to what the divine has placed in every human being’s heart and soul.

So, I can and must pray for peace. Peace means changing the hearts and minds of people so that they can trust, understand, and not fear. Peace means giving space for people to live free of fear, physical attacks, and dehumanization.

My prayer specifically asks:

– For an immediate ceasefire to prevent the massacre of thousands more Palestinian civilians for the sake of WAR
– For the United States to use its power to not continue to fund Israel until an immediate ceasefire happens
– For the countries funding Hamas to not fund Hamas until a ceasefire happens and all hostages are released
– For people to send aid and support to those trying to help the wounded and starving in Palestine
– For hearts of the leaders in both countries to be softened so they can work towards TRUE freedom and peace for everyone
– For truth and reconciliation to somehow be possible for the Palestinians and the Israelis
– For revenge, hate, fear and anger not to prevail anywhere in this world

I have been hearing talks about brokering peace in the Middle East since my childhood and am trying not to lose hope that this can happen.

I ask that whatever your faith, you all pray with me, push the government to support a ceasefire, support relief efforts for the thousands of Palestinian citizens trapped in Gaza, and for there to be a true pathway to PEACE.

Karen L. Charles