I used to be Protestant (a vehemently anti-Catholic one at that). So, I can understand being indoctrinated from childhood into believing the worst about a belief system and those that adhere to it; which in my case was Catholicism. Admittedly, I was never encouraged to strap a bomb to myself and take out the local parish in the name of John Calvin. So, I guess that is where I part company with the over-the-top hostility circulating among some in the Middle East.
So, back to Ben and Autumn. As a Catholic mom, I really, really try to help them understand that they are hurting themselves, their family, the Church, and God by being so mean to each other...and over such petty stuff. I eschew corporal punishment, so I try to make consequences meaningful. But half the time the "meaning of their meanness" still doesn't get through their heads. Even though it is true that "I am the Mom", I really don't like to wield that power like a dictator. I try to engage my kids and help them to see what is going on. I try to encourage mutual respect for each other and focus on how God wants us all to treat each other. It is amazing to me, though, how sin breaks in. The "Me" in each one of them becomes all important and nothing else exists. The total selfishness and complete lack of empathy or understanding toward the other, and me, can be stunning. And hey, I know I am not the most peaceful chick walking the planet. I have the so-called Irish Temper (and the Scots have it too, of which I am also descended.) Apparently, the other 1/3 of me, the English (staid, keep a stiff upper lip) part has been completely squashed by the other two more fiery temperaments of my heritage, and rarely sees the light of day. (My poor husband.) However, God is really working on me and aspect of my personality. Having a hot temper isn't always a bad thing. It is the way one uses it that makes it bad. I think there is a difference between managing conflict positively and plain old open hostility. Both stem from a passionate personality. So, I am trying to take my passionate little kids and help them turn it into something good. For example, I am "on Fire" for the Catholic Church. I passionately defend her teachings...even the unpopular ones. Being unafraid to speak up and doing it with gusto makes people pay attention, but I can't do it angrily or I will lose my credibility to those I am trying to reach. However, the only attention I have been getting lately is that of the public watching me wrangle my two little warring countries (I mean kids)...not the attention I am quite wanting for them OR me.
After 37 years of being anti-Catholicism and 18 years of being an Evangelical Protestant, God brought me all the way home to His Church...the Catholic Church. I believed in Him for so long and was always looking for him and he guided me where I needed to go...but certainly not in my time...always His time. So, too, I hope and pray that He will bring peace to the Jews and Muslims by bringing them to his Son, who IS peace. So it is with God's help, I will continue to encourage my children to live together in peace, instead of battling against each other in anger. I fear, however, that it's going to take a lot longer than I thought. I shouldn't complain, though, because God's been patiently waiting for us to get our acts together for thousands of years!
In closing, I want to share a couple of pictures. I was baking today when all Hell broke loose between my little Israel and Palestine. First there are the Peace cookies: Beautiful, sweet, with a perfect texture, and giving off a delightful aroma ...the perfect sugar cookie...which I made while I blissfully baked through the afternoon. Then, there are the Hostility cookies: Ugly, burnt at the edges with a hardened center (the kids were yelling and I forgot about them until I could smell them...not good!). Makes me think of the real things: Peace is beautiful, blissful and a peaceful person perfumes the air with the love of God. Hostility makes one spiritually ugly, hard-hearted, and leaves those around them feeling burned.