United Buddy Bears

Posted on : 03-09-2007 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized


One of the unexpected surprises during our recent visit to Israel was to come upon the “Unity Buddy Bears” exhibit located in the Safra Square in Jerusalem.  There are 133 fiberglass bear statues from countries all across the world to promote world unity and peace.  The bears were big (tall and wide) and beautiful (decorated/painted by world renowned artists), though I thought the U.S.’s Buddy Bear could have shown more imagination (it was painted green to look like the Statue of Liberty) most of the bears were exquisite.

Our small group of five was walking from our hotel (located right next door to a famous Moroccan Restaurant) to the Jaffa Gate of Old Jerusalem when we happened upon the bear exhibit.  We took an extra twenty minutes to admire all the bears.  Even though I hate to admit it, I did have an edge of anxiety about visiting Jerusalem because of the off chance that a terrorist would decide to blow themselves up, so coming across the Unity Bears felt like a peaceful reminder from God to live in today.  My husband and I quickly learned that most of the people in Israel (both Arabs and Jews) come from the place of “seizing the day” rather than worrying about tomorrow or brooding about the past.  Consequently, all of the places we visited were hustling and bustling with the energy of NOW. 

We had to cross a series of cross walks across main roadways to get to the perimeter of old Jerusalem.  At one point when several of us were waiting for the light to turn green, some people began walking across prematurely and an older Hassidic Jewish man riding his bicycle in the opposite direction proceeded to hurl angry words in Hebrew at them which startled my husband and me.  A young couple walking just ahead of us turned and said not to let the old man bother us.  Then the woman turned and asked my husband, “you know what they say about Jerusalem?” and of course he said, “no” and she said, “well when God was building the world he put all the crazy people into a salt shaker to sprinkle fairly upon the globe and when he got over Jerusalem, the cap came off!”.  We did see our share of characters but not any more than we already enjoy in our fine city of Austin, Texas. Still, the timing of this joke couldn’t have been more perfect.

What I most had to overcome in myself during our visit to Israel was everything we’ve heard through the media about violence and war and then everything that everyone else tells you about regarding the violence and war.  Once I was in Israel though, I realized that the energy was much more peaceful than I had expected.  It helped me to consider what it would have been like to have lived in the United States when it was sixty years old (which is the age of Israel). Perhaps we didn’t have people strapping bombs to themselves, but I’m sure there we had our share of unsophisticated, ignorant and violent people just the same. 

Don’t let fear keep you from exploring beautiful sites in the world.  And when you do travel, look for exhibits such as the Unity Buddy Bears as a sign that many people are really interested in peace and world unity.  Pass it on!

(also posted at www.businessleaderscentral.com)

Write a comment