Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Two Man Revolution Continues

If you have followed my travels here before, you will already know about my friends Steve and Azmi, who I refer to as a "Two Man Revolution." Steve is my Jewish friend who lives in Jerusalem. Azmi is an Arab Muslim from a northern village. Steve adopted Azmi as a son 8 years ago, and Azmi has lived with him ever since. They have a father and son relationship, and even now that Azmi is married with children of his own, he still stays with Steve part time, and is always available to him. Azmi helped Steve through his health crisis, including several surgeries. Azmi is Steve's only form of transportation (he is in a wheelchair). Steve has helped Azmi establish his law practice in Jerusalem. They truly function as a father/son relationship. I still believe a book needs to be written about them! Perhaps I'll write it! :)

Many months ago, Steve found out that he qualified for government assistance to get a car for use by a caregiver to take him to and from medical appointments. The car, in this case, would be driven by Azmi. Steve would get the car, with Azmi as the designated driver. Azmi filled out all the paperwork and the two went through a series of interviews with government representatives and social workers. The first two people that interviewed Steve and Azmi said everything was in order and that they would make a favorable recommendation that this request be approved.

A lot of time passed, and still no car was authorized. One day, Steve received another call to have another interview. The woman who arrived to do the interview checked all the same things as before... were Azmi's things in his room? Was Azmi's address on his identity card the same as Steve's, etc. Finally, the woman said, "I'm troubled by your relationship." She seemed particularly focused on the fact that Azmi was an Arab. She simply couldn't believe that an Arab and a Jew were sharing an apartment. It simply isn't done. It seems to have 'suspended' Steve's application. They don't know what's going to happen.

It is yet another example of a troubled paradigm. It simply isn't done, therefore there must be something shady going on. It is not to be believed, because Arabs and Jews simply don't voluntarily share their lives or their space. A sad reflection of how mindsets get 'set' and are difficult (although not impossible) to change.

I'm serious about writing the book. I just may do it! In the mean time, eventually I will republish some of my travel logs that detail the remarkable journey of these two men, and how they have transformed many who have encountered them with their special connection. It is truly an inspiring story that shows the power of people to transform each other and those around them. Opinions shift. Eyes open. Reality shines through and can be faced.

The way these two have found to be family is remarkable. In the beginning, some subjects were simply not discussed because of the danger of big arguments and potentially differing opinions. As trust and bonds developed, more and more got brought into the light, and things were never the same. There is model for transformation present in what went on with these two men. True, these two men started out as good men, with good hearts and very open minds. Reality, however, had influenced each of them, in many ways they were unaware of. Their brush with each other really opened up their worlds and the worlds of many people in their inner circles.

I have been a witness to the unfolding of this special family relationship and am honored to be considered a part of the family unit. One time Azmi referred to the three of us as 'a variety pack: A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian.' I don't heavily identify myself as purely or exclusively Christian, but I did like the image.

I guess the point of my story today is that the impossible is sometimes possible. Peace between Jews and Arabs is absolutely possible. It is 'simple' in fact, but not 'easy' to achieve. These two set a perfect example everyday, that when we get past what separates us, face reality and refuse to be part of anything that oppresses or abuses another person (or group of people)... that peace is not only possible... it is inevitable.

Salam, Shalom, Peace... from Jerusalem.

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