In times of war, our emotions often run high, and it’s easy to place blame and offer pity to the victims while condemning the attackers. Having lived through four wars, displacement and social unrest in the middle east for 20+ years, I learned a conscious, alternative response to war.

It called for a deeper understanding and a different approach. Instead of the usual “eye for an eye” blame and punishment practiced by humans since the time civilization began.

Hurt people hurt people.

This simple but profound truth reminds us that people who have experienced trauma, especially in their formative years, are more likely to perpetuate that trauma in their actions. This cycle of pain and suffering is an intrinsic part of the human condition. It disconnects us from recognizing our connection to a loving and benevolent universe.

When we look at the chaos of war, it can be seen as an expression of dysfunctional family behavior, but in this context, the “family” encompasses all of humanity, regardless of our diverse backgrounds and beliefs. We are all part of the same human family, wrapped in different packages of religion, creed, color, nationality, and political persuasion.

Perhaps one of the unexpected gifts that war can offer is the realization of our powerlessness in the face of the universe. As we tire of trying to control the outside world, we may find an opportunity to turn within. The gift of desperation lies in our willingness to seek different solutions.

It’s natural to feel sadness and deep sorrow when we witness the suffering caused by war. I remember during one of the wars, when the haunting 90 second siren warned of an impending bomb explosion my worried mind wondered, “Why can’t we live in peace?” My inner voice reminded me to start with myself,,,learn how to live in peace amidst my uncertainty before expecting it from others.

My personal journey through the 2006 war led to establishing Voices of Eden, whose mission is to help people maintain their serenity within, no matter how destructive other people may act and what winds are blowing or which waves are crashing around us.

We are powerless over what happens around us. We have 100% power and accountability for how we respond.

Each one of our voices makes a difference. Let it begin with me.

This transformative process allowed me to go beyond the noise of political discussions and the fear generated by the media. It was a process of going within, listening to my inner guidance, and initiating positive change.

Fourteen years later, I find myself unpeeling new layers of the onion, living in Portugal, far from the center of the conflict. In many ways, this new environment poses a different kind of challenge. For example yesterday, when sensitive topics, like anti-Semitism and political views, surfaced when my banker commented on Israel’s actions.

How do you respond to something like that?

I paused, went within, admitted my powerlessness, asked for help and listened for an answer. It’s during such moments of surrender when I come to realize the enduring power of the forces that govern our universe.

I replied: “The sun has continued to rise and set, for thousands of years, long after civilizations have risen and fallen. I place my faith in the hands of that power.”

He nervously chuckled at his reply: That’s my worry – what happens if civilization collapses!?!, I smiled and wished my banker a good day without delving into a philosophical discussion. Living in Portugal offers opportunities for such engaging conversations, but sometimes, silence and reflection can be the most profound response.

In times of war, it’s crucial to remember that our conscious, alternative response can lead us on a path of inner transformation and as Gandhi so wisely taught: “Be the change you wish to see.”