000 Parents Circle 2by beCause Associate Robi Damelin – While watching the bereaved African-American mothers on the stage at the Democratic Convention, I thought just how much we mothers, who have lost children, have in common, regardless of color, creed or national identity.  I thought that all bereaved mothers in the world should rise up together and say, “Enough! Stop the killing! Let our children live out the course of their lives.  We cannot continue to have the dreadful task of burying our sons and daughters and of continuing our motherhood by tending to graves and pretending that planting flowers and plants brings solace.”

I promise you, as one who has lost a child, the pain never goes away.  Yes, we put on our mask in the morning and set out into the world as if it is still the same, but underneath this facade we are forever damaged. Life takes on a bitter sweet tone.  No matter how many happy events occur there is always the empty chair at the table, the missing grandchildren we would have had, the complete joy of a wedding or anniversary.  We learn to live with the loss next to us and we either choose to die with our child, to seek a path of revenge only to discover there is no revenge for lost child. Or in some cases to walk a path of reconciliation to prevent others from having their hearts torn out.  Choosing the path of reconciliation allows me to give up being a victim and to be free.

Imagine if the mothers on the stage at the Democratic National Convention were joined by the mothers of police killed in the recent violence. Imagine that in one voice they would shout out to all, “Stop the killing. Look for the humanity in the other, and shout out, if we who have paid the highest price can stand here before you in an effort to stop the violence, then surely you can too.”  All these mothers could then feel a sense of purpose and perhaps find a reason to get up in the morning and honor their children in the most extraordinary way. They could choose not anger, but dare I say it, love.  They could discover each other through understanding and empathy.

In a way I feel qualified to say all this after many years of working in the Parents Circle – Family Forum.  We are a group of Palestinian and Israeli families who have all suffered the lose of a loved one in this conflict which could have ended long ago.  We recognize the need to tell our personal story many times to bring a message of reconciliation. It is not always easy.  There is violence, war, stabbings, bombs, killing of innocent civilians on both sides.  However, we know that we are here to change the situation and that the rippling effect of empathy can move mountains.

I wish we could meet Palestinian mothers, Israeli mothers, Mothers of the Movement and the mothers of police officers who lost their lives.  I feel sure we could work together to implant a sense of hope, that things can be different and that there is nothing more important than the sanctity of human lives.


Robi Damelin is featured in the documentary film One Day After Peace and her profoundly moving TEDx. She is one of four international 2014 Women PeaceMakers.  This article was first published on HuffPo earlier this month.

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Nadine B. Hack August 20, 2016, 1:19 pm

    Robi – I am profoundly inspired and deeply humbled by your extraordinary commitment to seek restorative vs. retributive justice in our world. Blessed are the peacemakers! You enrich all our lives.

    Reply
    • robi damelin August 22, 2016, 5:33 pm

      Nadine, thank you for always being a catalyst for our message of reconciliation. We are so grateful for people like you who still care

      Reply
  • Cortney McDermott August 20, 2016, 2:56 pm

    Thank you for this touching piece, Robi.

    Let’s dare to say it: Love.

    Reply
  • David Wilcox August 21, 2016, 7:29 pm

    There are so many that share your desire around hope. This morning’s visit to Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia (Fogg Museum at Harvard) offered that message delivered by indigenous painters whose images serve as dreams that are paths out of decades of loss of children and parents. We need to save our children and our planet. War and violence kill and prevent seeing the damage that violent living is doing to the future for all children. Thanks for your leadership.

    Reply
    • robi damelin August 22, 2016, 5:37 pm

      The main thing is , now more than ever we cannot give up , support for those slogging it out on the ground to stop violence is needed.

      Reply
  • Anna Hill August 21, 2016, 7:30 pm

    Empathy and love can indeed move mountains. Fear and revenge perpetuates pain and the cycle of loss and reconciliation is the only way forward.
    I accompanied my own mothers agonising journey through the loss of two children, my much loved bother and sister. I commend your strength and wisdom seeking reconciliation across borders. Our world requires healing. Thank you.

    Reply
    • robi damelin August 22, 2016, 5:39 pm

      It is I who should be thanking you for you surely understand the meaning of loss, and the choice to use the pain to make a difference.

      Reply
  • Stephanie Moles-Rota August 22, 2016, 12:25 pm

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope

    Thank you!

    Reply
  • robi damelin August 22, 2016, 5:41 pm

    The world could do with More Mandela’s , and Kings.

    Reply

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