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Tragedy in the Holy Land: What Can We Do? — A Conversation with Chad Ford
Tragedy in the Holy Land: What Can We Do? — A Conversation with Chad Ford

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Ever since October 7th, we’ve been wanting to better understand the conflict in Israel and Gaza and how we as Latter-day Saints can be good neighbors and friends to everyone impacted by it. We know there are no easy answers. Our guest this week, BYU Hawaii professor Chad Ford, has been working on peacemaking initiatives in the region for several decades and acknowledges the very real fear people involved in this conflict feel: that peace isn’t going to happen in their lifetime.

In the conversation, Chad walks us through a brief history of the conflict in the Middle East and why, at this moment, there is so much suffering and resistance to peace. We talk, as well, about the difficulty of resolving conflict in our personal lives, and how tempting it is to want to justify ourselves and be “right”, at the expense of fostering love in our relationships. We were also really aware of how easy it can be to sit in a position of relative comfort and ease and make pronouncements about what people directly involved should do or think. We tried really hard not to do that and focus more on what we can do to be engaged peacebuilders where we are. As is often the case with difficult conversations, we’re asking for some extra grace because we certainly didn’t handle any of this perfectly.

As challenging as this conversation was, we also found much of it invigorating. Chad has spent years thinking through passages of scripture that seem to justify war and how Christ’s overarching message counteracts them, reminding us that it is more important to be “right” before our brethren than it is to hold the “right” position. He reminds us, as well, that as Latter-day Saints we have one of the most compelling examples of peacemaking in our scriptural canon, in the story of the Anti-Nephi Lehites who set down their weapons of war out of commitment to God. Chad shares unforgettable stories about peacemakers in Israel and Gaza who have used their faith, creativity, and commitment to loving their neighbor to find ways for Israelis and Palestinians to connect and form awareness of their common humanity. Most of these people, he says, are not giving up, even with the situation as dire as it is.

If you want to hear more from Chad, we encourage you to check out Chad’s book, Dangerous Love: Transforming Fear and Conflict at Home, at Work, and in the World. We should mention that Chad is one of the most fascinating people we’ve ever interviewed; he seems to have lived many lives in one. He not only holds a degree and has decades of experience in conflict resolution, but he has a law degree and had a whole other career as a writer and analyst at ESPN—you’ll hear in the episode how that side of him has tied into his peacebuilding work. Later this year, Chad is relocating from Hawaii to Utah to join the faculty in religious studies with the Haravi Peace Center at Utah State University.

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