Two Peas in a Pod is the prompt for this week's Sunday Scribblings. My husband says there's only one "p" in a pod, but that's another story. He also mentioned pea soup and some other things that might offend the sensibilities of all you cultured readers. He's British. Need I say more?
At the moment, the two peas in a pod that interest me are the Israelis and Palestinians. They're bound together in a pressure cooker, bubbling along, ready to explode. Undoubtedly you've read the news reports about Palestinian militant groups kidnapping an Israeli soldier. In exchange for his safe return, they're demanding release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
The Israelis refuse to negotiate with the Hamas-led Palestinian government, which in turn refuses to recognise the State of Israel and all previous peace accords. The Israeli military has positioned tanks and soldiers on Gaza's borders. In bombing raids under cover of darkness, Israel has destroyed the Gaza Strip's electrical power, cut their water supplies and bombed the Palestinian Interior Ministry.
These provocative actions have left millions of Palestinians in stifling summer heat, without drinking water or electricity to bake bread or cook meals. The United Nations has warned of an impending humanitarian crisis.
And the two peas in a pod? Each refuses to budge from their intransigent positions. The young soldier at the heart of the current dispute reportedly is in stable condition, wounded by shrapnel that killed two others.
Meanwhile, the people suffer. I'm sure I've written that sentence before, when reporting about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet somehow the situation rarely changes. Civilians of both sides suffer, while politicians and militants argue political points or proffer bargaining chips.
Many Palestinians and Israelis are friends - they play sports together and successfully collaborate on projects. One organisation that seeks to encourage dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli children is The Dialogue Project. The group hosts monthly meetings for Jews, Muslims and Christians to discuss issues of the day. Participants are urged to suspend their opinions and judgments and truly listen to opposing views, then engage in constructive dialogue.
The thing about two peas in a pod is that sometimes they rub up against each other, creating friction. Sometimes each wants to go his own way, but it's impossible: they're stuck together in that compact little pod. So they have to learn the art of compromise; to find new perspective for their common ground.
They have to believe that their similarities are greater than their differences; that their goals are linked and not mutually exclusive. Only after each side makes some hard concessions can the two peas in that pod learn to peacefully co-exist.