We all crave peace in our lives. Some of us think about it more frequently than others, but it’s always on our mind in some shape or form…
We can beg for peace on our knees at the foot of our bed, quietly whispering in private. Or do it publicly, on a twitter feed or Facebook video, with tears and screams pulsating in our voices, while bombs or bulldozers destroy homes in the background.
And when we do not work towards it, a hunger ensues. Our heart begins to growl, and the gnawing pain can only compare closely enough to the emptiness of starvation. Like our physical bodies need food, our spiritual bodies need peace to thrive.
As a Palestinian refugee, peace can be illusive. For many Palestinian youth, peace is mostly the stuff of far removed stories. These stories are passed down by their grandparents and great-grandparents who recall working in the olive fields side-by-side with their Muslim, Jewish and Christian neighbors in the heartland of the Middle East. Broken up and scarred by a winding cement wall, the physical representation of this peace is now unrecognizable.
On Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, fourteen members of the UN Security Council met and voted for a draft resolution that demands Israel "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem," and in addition, declared that Israeli settlements have "no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law."
On January 21, 2017, Donald Trump will be sworn in to the office of the President of the United States, and although we cannot predict the future, it is possible that the new administration will have a vastly different approach towards the Middle East and its leaders, than the Obama administration has chosen to pursue.
As far apart as these two events might be from each other geographically, they are inextricably linked through the harsh and divisive rhetoric that continues to dominate geopolitical conversations, when they should be focused on peace, security and unity for people of all religions, ethnicities and origins.
This is where you come in- the Individual. Although you may feel small at times, or far removed from a position to make lasting change, I’m here to tell you otherwise. While world leaders may remain unyielding to any peaceful resolutions from the top-down, that doesn't mean that grassroots change is no longer an option. The international community is at a critical juncture where high-ranking political leaders are not the reliable change makers.
YOU the Consumer are also “You” the global citizen, with power that goes beyond your purchase. It provides physical security and thus, peace to those whom it is otherwise denied.
When we created Sitti Soap, it was with the belief that no matter how small we started out, we were part of a community where passion for unity and change would keep our social enterprise driving forward. We also believed in the ripple effect, because we are a product of it ourselves. Both Noora and I were drawn to the Jerash Camp community in the same way that you are as a member of the Sitti Soap community. We are unified in a mission to create lasting change and peace in people's lives through sustainable economic growth and community development.
As we move forward with our mission of growing and nurturing a sustainable enterprise in Jerash Camp, we do so with the inextricable mission of growing and nurturing the conversation surrounding Palestinian refugees, and the rights they continue to pursue in their daily lives. Whether they are working towards the right to work, the right to education, or the right to a home, the provision of these basic human rights will ensure peace ultimately.
The next time you purchase a box of Sitti Soap, remember that you are the change, and you are changing the conversation to be one of unity rather than division.
(After all, the olive branch is a symbol of peace.)