Looking beyond yourself by Sawsene Nejjar, Morocco

On August 7, 2016, I was a part of the Muslim Jewish Conference that took place in Berlin. It was a seven-day experience that reshaped my perspective on the Palestinian & Israeli conflict.

We tend to think that, because we read books, articles in the newspapers or watch debates on TV, we are knowledgeable about a subject and therefore we can judge that situation respectfully.

However, I believe that there are some aspects of the human characteristics that cannot be learned unless it exposes itself to the world.

During this conference, I was part of the Us and Them -Encountering Marginalization committee. There, we were grouped into Muslims, Jews and “others”. Each one of us shared his or her story and soon enough, there was no “them” but only us.

Regardless of our different faiths, philosophies and schools of thought, the people who were a part of the committee became one. Our personal stories, our fights and experiences of anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, anti-women, anti-the-other united us and made us forget about our different backgrounds and political views.

When we take the time to think about our actions and decide to not let our emotions drive our decisions, only then can we start finding a rational solution for any given conflict. And that’s what we did at this conference.

By listening to the people who were brave enough to share their stories, I came to the realization that everyone goes through tough times but it’s up to us to either let these negative experiences make us bitter or wiser. We choose how experiences shape us.

I like to share my perspective on different topics but what I like even more is the idea that my perspective is constantly changing as time goes by. I learn from my mistakes and try my best to be open and understanding.

It may sound familiar to you and yet, life keeps reminding us of the obvious: nothing comes easy.

The struggle within ourselves is more often than not a fight that we have to take alone. However, fighting the “other” also known as the unknown, is even more challenging. How many arguments, fights, and tears have been shed when confronting the unknown? And how many times did we let fear and ignorance take over us and drive our actions?

Looking beyond ourselves and our immediate surrounding is the only way for us to emerge from our protective cocoon and expose ourselves to the ugly reality of this world.

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