May goodness and mercy follow them all the days of their lives.
Message of hope in a mad world
June 29, 2008 12:00am
AHMED Khatib was only 12 when shot dead by Israeli troops, who mistook his toy gun for a real one.
The Palestinian boy's death in the West Bank town of Jenin, tragically, was not unusual.
Children are commonly victims of fighting in the Middle East.
But what happened after his death in November 2005 was exceptional.
Ahmed's grieving parents donated the boy's organs to "the enemy" - an Israeli hospital.
His heart now beats in the chest of an Israeli Druze Arab girl.
His liver kept a Jewish girl and an Israeli mother alive.
His lungs were transplanted into a teenage Jewish girl and his kidneys divided between a five-year-old Bedouin and a three-year-old Jewish girl.
The parents, Ismail and Abla Khatib, decided that some good could come of his death.
The Palestinian family understood that their son's body parts were most likely to save people routinely spoken of as "the enemy" in Jenin.
"It doesn't matter who they are," said Ahmed's mother.
"We didn't specify that his organs would go to Arabs, Christians or Jews. I didn't want my son to suffer, I didn't want other children to suffer regardless of who they are."
The remarkable gesture astonished and impressed Israelis and Palestinians.
This year, Ismail Khatib visited Israel to see some of the families of those who received his son's organs.
"Violence against violence is worthless," he said in the documentary about his visit, The Heart Of Jenin, which showed in the West Bank for the first time this month.
"Maybe this will reach the ears of the whole world so they can distinguish between just and unjust.
"Maybe the Israelis will think of us differently now."
The documentary's producers - one Arabic and the other Jewish - hope to soon show the film in Israel.
They see it as a message of hope in a world seemingly gone mad with revenge killings and sectarian violence.
Another startling message of hope came from the other side of the world in 2006 when a tiny Amish community in Pennsylvania forgave the killer of five Amish schoolgirls and reached out compassionately to the gunman's widow.
They buried their anger before they buried their children.
Somehow, love endured in the face of evil. It was, to many minds, strange and other-worldly.
WATCH THE TRAILER
A new book, Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, explains the Amish believe the act of forgiving wipes away feelings of revenge and hate. (WEBSITE for the book)
They don't say it's easy.
Forgiveness on this scale is complex and difficult, but it is necessary to overcome evil with good.
The Amish believe love is the act of feeding the hungry, compassion is healing the sick and forgiveness is unconditional acceptance, not a creed or list of laws.
How much better to be a beacon of truth rather than an instigator of condemnation? Instead of merely complaining about the problems in the world, the Amish believe we can be part of the solution.
Writer and social activist Dorothy Day said works of mercy lightened the sum total of suffering in the world so those, who were suffering in this ghastly struggle, somehow mysteriously found their pain lifted and some balm of consolation poured on their wounds.
"If I did not believe these things, the problem of evil would indeed be overwhelming," she said.
U2's singer Bono said the one thing all faiths and ideologies agreed on was that God was with the vulnerable and poor.
"God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house," he said.
"God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war.
"God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives and God is with us if we are with them. History, like God, is watching what we do."
Martin Luther King Jr. said love could change the world.
"Love even for one's enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of the world," he said.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."