In December 2016, a journalist asked the movie star Isabelle Adjani : "You have beauty, intelligence, sensitivity, success. What is lacking for you ?"


    "What is lacking, actually," she replied, "is what's lacking for most people these days, if I trust the rising anger, along with the wave of extremists.

    What is lacking, for me, is to be the citizen of a fairer world, one that takes care of people and of the environment...

    What is lacking in me ? To find the way back to hope."



    This is a crisp, ordinary Monday morning in Europe. Every morning after dawn, at the desk of Peace Lines, we scan the news from the most barren land as far as "hope" goes, for traces of the elusive mind metal that will pull us through. You may remember that the human body is composed of about thirty rare metals that help it function (iron, 4 grams; zinc, about 2 grams; lead, one tenth of a gram; copper, even less; nickel, chrome, silver, gold, uranium even, in minute quantities, along with lithium which stabilizes our mood...). Aluminum, cadmium, titanum, tantalum, you name it, it's all there. The only one that has not been listed is mandelum, which precisely reinforces our mood, here named after the man who most worked on it...

     Think of a man who spent 27 crucial years of his life behind bars, who got his freedom at the age of 72, and was elected President of his country when he was 75 : he should know something about hope ! Actually, this is what he wrote about it to his wife, when he was in a small cell :


    “The crop of miseries we have harvested from the heartbreaking frustrations of the last 15 months are not likely to fade away easily from the mind. I feel as if I have been soaked in gall, every part of me, my flesh, bloodstream, bone and soul, so bitter I am to be completely powerless to help you in the rough and fierce ordeals you are going through... 

    In spite of all that has happened I have, throughout the ebb and flow of the tides of fortune in the last 15 months, lived in hope and expectation. Sometimes I even have the belief that this feeling is part and parcel of my self. It seems to be woven into my being. I feel my heart pumping hope steadily to every part of my body, warming my blood and pepping up my spirits. I am convinced that floods of personal disaster can never drown a determined revolutionary nor can the cumulus of misery that accompanies tragedy suffocate him. To a freedom fighter hope is what a life belt is to a swimmer – a guarantee that one will keep afloat and free from danger.”




    To find the way back to hope ? You have to cherish and nourish the belief that there is such a thing as hope, such a mind mineral, rare as it has become.

    Our challenge has been to go dig it out from the most unlikely places (in common "wisdom") : from Jenin to Gaza, from Sderot to Jerusalem... But maybe you should hear this song, one of the mandelum songs, about something that happened in Jenin, and Petah Tikva in Israel... 


    The story of a Palestinian boy, Ahmed Khatib, who was shot by an Israeli soldier for playing with a plastic gun... whose parents saved 5 lives, by accepting to  donate his organs... After his death, his father created the Ahmed Khatib Center for Peace in the Jenin refugee camp to provide children alternatives to life (and death) on the streets, such as a film-making course, connected to the reopening of the Cinema Jenin. "This kind of action is a form of resistance," said Zakaria Zbeida, ex-leader of the Fatah's armed wing in Jenin. "Five members of the Israeli community are now carrying part of a Palestinian. I don't think someone with a Palestinian organ will now kill a Palestinian."


     If this happened in a land torn by warfare, fear and hatred, maybe the likes of Ahmed's parents are the kind of people who know something about the way back to hope... Do you remember the gold rushes of the past ? The way some men would leave everything behind in their quest for the fabulous metal? Our stand, as Peace Liners, is that Hope is much more precious than silver and gold - but it won't be bought from some miner or jeweller.

    Looking for the way back to hope ? It goes through experience. Experience of long ago, experience of some moments ago, experience of the cycles, all the cycles we surf on, consciously or not.

    What is the price of experience ? asked both poets William Blake and Van Morrison. Do men buy it for a song ? We all pay for experience, in years of our life, i.e. with all that a man hath. The more aware the better. And when it feels like a sentence to 27 years behind invisible bars, that's when you most need the opening. The hopening. Have you really looked at this crushing routine from all angles ?

    But where to find the beginning of the road back to hope ? If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, then hope is in the mind of the seeker. It's there, right there, within reach. All you need is to switch to another level, another altitude - in Bertrand Piccard's words (the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the world, and to conceive and man the first round-the-world solar flight!).

    Not that you have to be another Mandela, Leymah Gbowee, Khatib, or Piccard, to keep your heart pumping hope steadily to every part of your body, pepping up your spirits. You only need to make room to find the hopening. Close some connections, (re)open some channels. Unclutter, reorganize, follow a different plan. Dare challenge the unpredictable : take your risks, go for it.






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