Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Carter Reminisce

The following is excerpted from "Through the Year with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President." (and published here):

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
--Matthew 5:9

During 13 difficult days, Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, and I worked at Camp David to negotiate a historic peace agreement. When we returned to Washington, I was invited to address a special session of the U.S. Congress.

I had no time to develop a lengthy speech, but I decided on the way to the Capitol to quote Matthew 5:9. I wanted to say, “Blessed are the peace-makers,” but I couldn’t remember what came next. So I called for a Bible to be waiting for me when I got out of the limousine. Upon my arrival, a staff member slipped me a piece of paper that said, “for they will be called children of God.” I repeated it as I asked Sadat and Begin to stand.

Peacemakers are very special ­people. They have to understand and sympathize with others who have differing points of view. Begin and Sadat’s countries had been at war four times during the previous 25 years. They hated each other. I kept the two men apart for their last 10 days at Camp David because they couldn’t sit in the same room without all the old animosities coming out.

Peacemakers have to empathize with both sides, even though both sides can’t be completely right. Through common trust, understanding and flexibility, they must find a way to get both sides to come together. They must make sure that every time one side gives up something, they can expect to get something more important at the end. And finally, both sides must win. If one side loses and the other wins, the peace will not last.

Every Chris­tian faces altercations or arguments that can degenerate into animosity or misunderstanding. But if we choose to be peacemakers -- if we choose to act as children of God -- then we can make a positive difference for good, as did the Prince of Peace.
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