I don’t know when I first heard, “Peace on Earth to Men of Goodwill.” Supposedly, it’s the translation from the Aramaic Bible. It’s a much more reasonable take on what the Angel of the Lord had to say about the birth of Baby Jesus. It makes more sense to me than, “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.” After all, the Angel of the Lord was no wuss. Baby Jesus needed Protection, not verbal Fairy Dust.
Whatever your religion, I believe that Jerusalem should be a Religious Switzerland — open to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. It should be devoted to the concept of Religious Peace. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site already … for all the good that’s done. Ditto for Bethlehem.
And for what?
The Western World had has enough religious violence to last us for the NEXT four thousand years. Religious intolerance may be the end of civilized life thanks to the existence of nuclear weapons. Members of each of the three great western religions have persecuted one another since the the far distant past. Religious difference has translated into political hatred and unabashed violence.
The Spanish Inquisition tortured your body to save your soul. Not a good enough Catholic? A Jew or Muslim? Let’s have you swallow this piece of linen, an inch wide and thirty feet long. When it comes out the other end? We’ll pull it out. I’ve forgotten which end they preferred. It doesn’t matter.
Jerusalem is a holy city to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. 2,400 years before the current era (BCE), Jerusalem was called the City of Peace. Seriously? 4,000 years ago they invoked peace and people have been bashing each other ever since?
The Old City is … sit down … one-fourth the size of Central Park in New York: only 0.3 sq. miles. That’s 192 acres. Puny little Rhode Island is nearly 800,000 acres! The Old City is a global postage stamp. No, it’s a perforation along the edge of a global postage stamp.
The Old City is 62% Jewish, 35% Muslim and 1-2% Christian. Christians have been persecuted out of their religious heartland. Population totals are hard to come by as both Palestinians and Jews administer the same real estate. Total population is about 40-50,000. The Old City is as densely populated as the city of San Francisco itself; and each of the three groups hates the other(s).
Compared to the Greater Houston area, it is 28 times as densely populated. The Houston/Woodlands/Sugar Land area, even with the new spurt of a gazillion more people, is roomy compared to the Old City. (The triangle of Houston-San Antonio-Dallas is now called a megapolitan area.)
Conflict over the Old City — and some other real estate in the vicinity — threatens the world.
Are we insane? Don’t answer that.
Two mothers in N. Ireland won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for telling their sons to stop the Protestant/Catholic “troubles.” Basically, they issued a “Mama Subpoena,” which is a sharp twist of the ear, resulting in immediate attention to what Mama has to say. In the case of the Irish mothers, it was basically, “I didn’t deliver you, shoulders and all, to see you die. So stop this nonsense with the Protestants/Catholics NOW.” (That’s my interpretation… their words could have differed.)
If only it were that easy. “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Bombers,” might work in an all-Christian country at the end of a just a few hundred years of “troubles.” But in the Middle East, millennia of hatred can make moms politically radicalize their own children.
Hatred should not be a core belief for ANY child on the planet. Otherwise, there will be no planet.
Peace on Earth to Men of Good Will.
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