Randa Hamwi Duwaji believes that peace can only be visualized after prejudice is reduced to rubble, that the bedrock for peace is integrity, and that mutual dignity is the mortar that binds together a lasting peace.

Growing up with diplomat parents travelling the world Randa had felt at peace, knowing of amicable exchange between nations and cultures.

That was to change with the wars of 1967 and 1973, when Israeli warplanes flew over Damascus. Diving into the basement did not save her neighbors; their body-parts were being unearthed from their flattened building even as the bomb which landed in her own family’s back-yard was being defused by the bomb-squad. At the security perimeter that fateful day, overlooking the scene that was -and imagining the scene that could have been- she found herself thrown into a world where nations were likely to communicate fear rather than friendship and deal disaster rather than diplomacy.

Since that time, Randa’s writings and artwork have chronicled major hostilities which have affected the world, seen through the eyes of victims. Her work calls for effective communication which cannot take place unless Humanity is recognized as a single entity. In doing so, people would agree that both constructive and destructive persons can be found anywhere, regardless of perceived faith or given nationality. In doing so, people would bridge cultural and political borders, and would find themselves rejoicing and mourning together. And also in doing so, people would come together in demanding due respect from the media and from governments, bringing both to task in fulfilling their duties equitably. It is this mindset which is required to begin building Peace.

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Lock Eyes With Mine

Lock eyes with mine:
Gaze steady,

Dip into
my consciousness

my suffering
spasm upon spasm.

my soul.

to my humanity.

Lock eyes with mine:

See in me

See in mine
your home
your child.

your future
in my fate

Before you lock
your finger.

Before in haste
you pull
that trigger,

Lock eyes with mine.
Throne of the War-Lord

Ares stood
often before
upon battle-field
so still..

His cry echoed
in many tongues
‘Matalo! Tuez-le!
Uqtul! Kill!’

Pitting mortals
against each other
challenging divine
wisdom and reason
each side claimed
its monopoly on heaven..
so Ares could claim
his new throne

Today Ares stands
upon battle-field
so vast..

A prosperous land
forced to suffer
Mortals pitted
against each other

Modern warfare
beyond reason
offering a
beleaguered nation
quills from
the hawks of heaven

Quills unleashing

For years
and decades
to come
Ares shall have
an abundance
of thrones

But none
as comfortable
as this

This, he dreams,
his coveted throne:

Each twisted hair
adorns the seams
where tan
and fair
silken skin
come together

His throne shall be
unique this time

This time, he smiled:
Most of the slain
are young!
The Eye of War

Look them in the eye
and tell them:
Decades of suffering
under your sanctions
were deserved,
their suffering
having served
a valid purpose.

Look them in the eye
and describe
your donation:
Bombs and bloodshed
to put things right
to 'liberate'
those of them
who survive.

Look your countrymen
in the eye
and tell them
that their fears
are uncalled for:

Great nations
to humankind
have Peace descend
and extend
beyond their shores.

Look her in the eye
and tell her
that her tears
a mother's tears
do not matter

That the child
whose every breath
she cherishes
and would die for

is an acceptable
casualty of war.

Then dare
raise to your Creator
your eyes:

Witness His definition
of a single humanity
beyond your recognition
or continue
in Egotistic
looking no one
in the eye
War Expenditures

I weep for you
and pray my loved ones
remain safe…

I weep for you
and hope I never
know your grief

Loved ones of departed
on both sides
uniting this day
in sighs and moans

From east to west
wounded and maimed
are echoing
each other’s groans

All restless
forever restless
on a bed of pain
beyond belief

A bed
that is yours alone.

I weep for you…

In public view
your distress
your stoic manner
your noble silence
humbles me

Even more so
when I perceive
the look in your eye

as you pretend
to accept

from those who raise
approval rates

From war-mongers
who never had loved ones
in war zones

extending sympathy
displaying empathy

justifying why
it was essential
your loved ones to expend

At the foot
of your bed of pain
I weep for you
I weep for me

And I weep
for them
Counting their Beat

Count footsteps of protestors
marching our streets
Listen to bombs raining on
racing heartbeats

Feel pulse of many million
friends you’ve lost
when your violence rained upon
blameless heartbeats

Fight frustration of strapped nations
lips taped shut
aching to share, begging to spare
precious heartbeats

Count sighs of the Bereaved
nursing their grief
cursing you- while praying for
fading heartbeats

Count steps of fallen heroes
never again to walk the streets
never again to join loved ones
in joyous heartbeats

Count their steps
Count their breaths
Count their beats

And then
for as long as you shall live

their silence.
Reflections at Seneca Lake

I had been holding my breath for so long. I could hardly wait to meet you, as planned, at 11 a.m. on September 24th at the western shore of Seneca Lake. I couldn't sleep for excitement the night before, two hundred yards away. From my room at the hotel, only darkness kept us apart. I had seen a sketch of you months earlier, and had even written you a haiku, my words now engraved upon your heart in an eternal bond between us. But I couldn't wait for 11 a.m. when I'd meet you together with everyone else. They would be celebrating your being, paying respects to what you stand for, admiring your beauty. But I needed moments of silent cohesion with you, just you and me. While breakfast was being served I ran down towards the lakefront. The ground was still moist with yesterday's downpour, the trees rustling slightly in the breeze, the sun getting less shy by the minute as the lake steadily took on the blue of the sky. I remember thinking what a beautiful day this was promising to be, as I hurried towards you.

Nothing I knew had prepared me for the reality of you early that morning at the lakeshore. Though smaller than I had envisioned, the contours of your tortured outstretched limbs extended towards the lake, the sky, and beyond into space. The splendor of the immeasurable pain and unrelenting hope that had so extraordinarily come together in molding you, gave life to the message at your foundation. Universal. Eternal. And the poetry you had inspired in me, at that vantage point in space and time brought us together, Mankind and Matter. Could we have such a bond?

Earth-torn roots yearning
Palestine Landscape mourning
Displaced descendants

In a while others started streaming in; Americans, Arabs, Jews, professors, lawyers, dignitaries and common folk from all walks of life. I was in their midst, but then when I walked a distance away to take a photograph, I realized: This scene is heavenly! There were no barriers here and no differences that mattered. The colors of this group were the colors of nature, the garb as varied as earth itself. The black- clothed Rabbi discussing his faith and how it relates - or should not have related - to you, the Nun with a microphone and camera, conducting interviews and taking record of the suffering you represent, the headscarf-ed Muslim woman reading your plaque out loud, the lady in a Palestinian robe holding up her dress to show where you lovingly figure in the traditional embroidery. Neighbors to your plot who had offered homes, hotel rooms, and cuisine to Travelers drawn to you from the farthest states, and from continents as distant as Asia and Australia. And then there were the broken-hearted Widow, Uncle, and Companions, celebrating the memory of the peaceful Combatant who had fought for the rights of those you stand for, whose dedication and generosity were at the heart of your being realized, here, continents away from the tragedy you commemorate. You brought these diverse people together. Grouping around you, they were conversing as if they'd known each other for ages. You had them exchanging numbers and business cards for future relations. You had them discussing ways to bring about justice, even if at first symbolic, as had been accomplished here. You had each individual conveying peace in a personal style that blended in with the landscape, the weather, and your message. What harmonious diversity.

With tears in my eyes I knew that the momentary cohesion I had sought with you was inadequate and unfulfilling compared to what I had just witnessed.

The Artist in me may have celebrated the union of sculpture and poetry, but it was the Essence of my being that celebrated the union of so many Human Essences, both dead and alive, at this point in time upon the lake of Geneva, New York. You brought us together on September 24th and helped us bond with each other, uniting us in the name of justice and peace. Dear Olive Tree in Bronze, Memorial to Deir Yassin at Seneca Lake: You will continue to unite Mankind, for our bond is not that of mankind and matter, but rather, Mankind and That Which Matters.