BY A. LAWRENCE CHICKERING AND JAMES S. TURNER
USA Today says, “President Trump has billed his [May 2017] visit to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican as a sort of triple pilgrimage to places deeply meaningful to adherents of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”
That paper quotes Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, saying “the trip reflects the president’s belief ‘that we all have to be united and we have to be joined together with an agenda of tolerance and moderation.’ ”
The Initiative, co-founded by William Ury, mediator and co-author of Getting to Yes, says “known as ‘the Friend,’ Abraham is still remembered for his legendary welcome and kindness toward strangers. This ancient journey is a cultural thread that binds humanity together, a tangible reminder that no matter what divides us, what unites us is far, far greater.”
In addition to its Middle East walks, the project partners with interreligious organizations leading local Abraham Walks, such as those in several places around the United States, including Cincinnati, Dallas, and Austin, Texas. Organizers take participants on mini-pilgrimages that link local churches, mosques, and synagogues and include interfaith liturgies and speakers. Contact the project to help create a local walk of your own.
President Trump, in his initial speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on May 21st, said, “For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again—and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.
“In that spirit, after concluding my visit in Riyadh, I will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then to the Vatican – visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic Faiths. If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible – including peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
President Trump’s nine-day journey that began in the Middle East consciously includes the spiritual essence of Abraham’s embrace of humanity. A Presidential trip successful in advancing this spirit will advance the best hopes for humanity.