Mony Dojeiji and her 5000 km Walk for Peace – Part II
There is no question we felt the hopelessness, the helplessness and the pain of the Palestinian people. But what most opened our eyes was the Israeli experience. I was accustomed to seeing only one face of the Israeli people, that of the aggressors. What we saw was that they were also victims of their choices, hostage to their fears, allowing those fears to rule every aspect of their life. Young men and women, most under the age of twenty, were walking around with machine guns patrolling squares and open areas. On the trains, on the buses, machine guns were in full sight. We couldn’t walk into any restaurant, shopping center or public place without being submitted to a search of our bags and metal detectors. Even walking into a McDonald’s, we had to clear security. In the old city of Jerusalem, police with full body armor patrolled the streets. I kept thinking, this is not normal. They’re putting on a face of normalcy on a situation that is clearly not normal. Like their Palestinian counterparts, they were living in terror and under the constant pressure of being blown up just by going about their daily lives. They’re equally convinced that all Palestinians want them dead, as of course the Palestinians think of the Israelis. Their political choices reflect this deep fear and paranoia. One journalist described the situation as ‘shoot and cry’ and then ‘vote and cry’. It seemed an apt description. For the first time, I felt the pain and sadness of the Israeli people and understood that they only allowed their leadership to act as it did not out of a desire for revenge or to obliterate the Palestinian people, but out of the deep terror that if they don’t defend themselves and attack first, they will be killed. As in many situations, their aggression was masking a much deeper fear.
What gave me incredible hope, and what the media does not report on, are the ordinary people, Israelis and Arabs, working for peace together. There are many Israelis and foreign observers putting their lives on the line, acting as human shields to protect Palestinians as they go about their daily lives. There are so many peace organizations working to bring about change at every level, social, political, cultural and religious. We read stories of ordinary people defying stereotypes and getting to know their neighbor, often united in their losses, in their grief, but also in their hopes for their children. There were daily protests by mothers, grandmothers, and all those who have lost loved ones and were seeking change. Young Israeli reservists refusing to do military duty and facing imprisonment and severe sentences. This is the face that most people do not see and what left such a deep impression on us.
12. What are your 3 most significant memories from this 5000 km Walk for Peace?
It’s difficult to choose only three, but I can summarize the impressions that stand out most in my mind. I think often of the kindness and generosity of ordinary people in every single country we walked in, people who didn’t speak our languages, but who through their simple acts of humanity touched us and helped us on our way. Often, they were people who had nothing and yet shared all that they had. I am touched when I think of the look in peoples’ eyes when they heard about what we were doing, and the emotion and the hope that our walk seemed to inspire in them. We know we touched many people simply by walking past them, and often by putting the power to create change in their world back in their hands, reminding them of their innate power and the significance of what they see as simple acts.
Mony, announcing her Walk for Peace in Italian
Above all, I can’t help but marvel at the incredible synchronicities of this entire pilgrimage, the people showing up just when we needed them, circumstances revealing themselves to make our path easier. This is not to say that all our experiences were easy and that we didn’t pass any difficult moments. We did, but in every experience was hidden a marvelous lesson waiting to be revealed.
13. How has this experience transformed you personally?
I trust more in the goodness of people. I am more patient with myself and others. I don’t see people quite as separate from me as I did before. I see our similarities, our hopes, our dreams, more than I see the differences in our languages, cultures, and religions. I find I’m not so quick to judge others, having been judged myself often as many things – a wanderer, a poor vagabond, an idealist, a dreamer, someone naïve who doesn’t understand the real world and the complexities of peace. I have more faith and trust in the unknown, whether you call it God, the Universe, the angels. The label doesn’t matter. It’s all the same creative, loving energy that guides each of us to our higher purpose, when we open ourselves to it. I have more confidence in the world and in ordinary people making change happen. I see our world changing for the better. There is a higher consciousness that is growing daily of ordinary people like you and me choosing to live lives with meaning and to contribute something positive to the world. Despite all we see on television, which only presents a part of the story, I have more hope for the future.
14. What has happened after you finished your walk for peace? Today you live in Spain. Please tell us about your life in Spain. What do you enjoy about your new home town?
After our pilgrimage, we came to Spain for Alberto’s family to meet me, and then to Canada for my family to meet him. We married in 2003 and had our daughter Sylvana in December of that year.
We are still trying to live the lessons of our pilgrimage in our everyday lives, in how we deal with people and situations. We try to look for the light in every person, not their dark. We know we create situations so whenever something happens that we don’t want, we look at ourselves and not at others. We try to let life unfold as opposed to controlling it, forcing it or rushing it along. It’s difficult to do this in a ‘normal’ world and often we forget everything we’ve learned, but that remains our intention. Fortunately, we live in the deep south of Spain in an area that’s very laid back and where people are open and friendly. The pace of life here is more relaxed, there’s more focus on quality of life as opposed to pursuit of success and material wealth. It’s small enough that we can walk everywhere for all our needs – shopping, banks, doctors, pharmacies. We only just bought a car so that we could travel outside the city and explore the beauty of Andalusia and the rest of Spain and Europe. There’s a focus on family and community which we really appreciate. Families go out with their children everywhere – restaurants, cafes at all hours. It’s common to see strollers with children sleeping in them at midnight. Children are a part of the family’s life and of the social experience. Children learn to adapt to the family’s lifestyle, not the other way around. We’re learning a great deal from this way of life and are adapting very easily.
Mony in Turkey
15. Following this monumental Walk for Peace, what are your plans for the future? How do you intend to integrate this experience into your life from here on in?
We are currently writing a book of our experiences and hoping to have it published late this year or early next year. Our intention is to share the many lessons that we have learned from our pilgrimage with others in the hopes that they are inspired to pursue their dreams and passions. In a way, a pilgrimage is a way of life, it’s not something that ends. It has no beginning or end. It is a continual journey of self-discovery and transformation. And that’s what life really is, for those who choose to embrace change as part of their life. So our pilgrimage continues. We continue to accept and heal. We continue to shed and embrace. We continue to grow and learn. We are attempting to create peace in our world by being that peace in our daily lives, and are trying to bring that into the life of our daughter, so that she is surrounded by that positive energy and grows with the absolute knowledge of her power to change herself and her world, and the confidence to face her fears squarely and follow her dreams and passions.
Mony, thank you so much for your time in describing to us this fundamental transforming experience that took you from a high-powered corporate position in Canada through 13 countries to a more tranquil family life in Spain. We wish you all the best for finishing your book!