Look no further than our own towns and cities, local, national or evening news any day of the week, and we see conflict between people from different cultures. How much unrest is there in the world due to our differences? How much conflict is there due to our lack of understanding each other?
I remember sitting on my father’s lap in the mid 80’s, as a young child, watching the evening news. Dad pointed to the TV, where it was displaying violence in the Middle East. “Laura, see what is going on there? That has been going on for hundreds of years and will continue happening until you are old and grey.” Although this didn’t resonate with me at the age of 6, I was left with an almost immediate desensitization to what I saw on the screen, and accordingly, my father’s words echoed in my mind each time I watched similar coverage as I grew in to an adult. I blindly accepted what I saw as the status quo.
That was until James Foley’s murder. For some reason, this act of violence sprung my eyes open again. I no longer wanted to blindly accept this, but want to be able to affect some change. “Why?” I spent hours asking, pondering how someone could do this. Then I started researching the different cultures and history of the area, as well as in other areas of conflict around the world. I am pained by seeing so much hate and violence. The more I dug in, and the more research I did, the more it became apparent to me that the lack of mutual understanding and respect for one another is at the heart of much unrest around the world.
Incidentally, this is just around the time that I learned about Seeds of Peace.
Attorney Sheldon Tepler and I work “across the table” from each other in one sense, yet we work toward a common goal of helping people who have been hurt after accidents. If the two of us can find common ground and work toward the same goal, we came up with the idea that as runners, we would come together to race in the 2015 Beach to Beacon 10k road race to raise money for Seeds of Peace. For this race, we will become Runners For Peace, working together to raise money to send a young person from an area of conflict to a summer camp program to get to know other young folks who likewise, come from a different culture or area of conflict.
We are putting whatever our work differences are aside, to work toward a common goal based on our mutual love of running and peace in what is a symbolic parallel to what Seeds of Peace sets out to accomplish.
Seeds of Peace inspires me because it brings together young people from areas of conflict to help promote understanding and the connectivity inherent to the human experience regardless of differences in culture, religion or country of origin. The name says it all. I believe the only true way to foster peace on a global scale is to start on a micro level, bringing people together to learn and care for one another despite their differences, and take these experiences with them to spread the message of peace during their lifetime and for generations to come.
I am Laura McLean, a Runner for Peace. I work for an insurance company, with the role of helping people after they have been involved in auto accidents to get back on their feet. While Sheldon and I come from two different places, we are able to come together and work toward the same goal. With this fundraiser, we will run together to do the same; to foster peace in our communities and abroad. Please help us support the cost to bring a young person to camp, and to support the mission of Seeds of Peace.
When I’m not working or running, I’m cycling, riding horses, gardening, and spending time with my husband, daughters and friends.
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