Picture Muslims, Christians, Jews, Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians, Americans all in a living room listening to each other. Sharing hurts and hopes and blessing one another. It was a perfect reflection of our motto, neighbors forever and for all peoples equally.
We experienced equal humanity, and realized that ‘an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.
Words by Len Traubman
Len and Libby Traubman led and taught peacebuilding and conflict resolution in the way they say great leaders do, so gracefully that those they were leading felt their own value and purpose in life deepen and shine more clearly, without knowing why. Len asked sincere and searching questions and listened authentically with an open heart. Len mentored community leaders struggling with peacebuilding efforts in many countries around the world.
Len became a deep friend with James Offuh, leader of a URI Cooperation Circle (CC), United for Peace against Conflicts International in Cote d’Ivoire, supporting James in his efforts to bring enemies together in authentic community.
Emmanuel Ivorgba, Director of the New Era Educational and Charitable Foundation in Jos Nigeria (a URI CC)and URI’s Regional Coordinator for West Africa called Len “my Dad.”
[Len] You came into this world and you conquered the world with your love, your kindness, your generosity, your very peaceful and calm disposition, your compassion for all, always helping and supporting everyone, not withholding back anything. You were truly a father, a mentor, bridge builder, a peace builder and a true leader.
In 1991 Len and Libby founded the Jewish -Palestinian Living Room Dialogues – they hosted over 300 gatherings engaging people from different religious and cultural backgrounds in dialogue in their own living room in San Mateo CA. For almost as many years, Len and Libby sent out a newsletter brimming with compelling good news, powerful stories of peacebuilding successes by grassroots groups all over the world, and excellent curriculum ideas, including their own materials, The Public Peace Process.
In 2017 Len and Libby received the Visionary of the Year Award by the Euphrates Institute (a URI CC) for their life long contribution to peacebuilding and treating “the other as a brother. “ Len and Libby were early supporters of URI and enthusiastically endorsed URI’s appreciative listening practices and its ability to draw forth grassroots peace builders as community leaders.
Len and Libby produced a profound film, Dialogue in Nigeria: Muslims and Christians Creating their Future (2012), a “how to” documentary in which Nigerians are exemplars of community excellence and conflict resolution.
After watching a film, engaging in dialogue, hearing a story, Len’s favorite questions were: “What touched you? What had meaning for you? What new possibility or initiative was awakened in you?
A fitting way to honor Len’s life of listening as an act of love is to make a practice of treating the “other as a brother “ and listening with an open heart to their stories.