I was deeply saddened to learn this week that one of the world’s true peace makers had passed — the Honorable Shimon Peres of Israel. And frankly, it is limiting to only call him a leader only for Israel.
Mr. Peres was a world leader. A leader for a world seeking peace, stability, common ground, connectedness. Human dignity, for all people. This is the man I met, while visiting Jordan a few years back at a World Economic Forum regional meeting there. And I think that it is also noteworthy that I met this man — this global leader for peace and bridge building — during a World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan.
A Jewish man, an African-American man, meeting in a majority Muslim land. I have to believe that for the God that we all believe in — this is what He had in mind for mankind.
When we met and spoke, and he learned about our work at Operation HOPE, he told me, “John, when others attempt to criticize your work, tell them that ‘even if you want to distribute money like a socialist, you must first collect money like a capitalist..'” That phrase and quote of wisdom, like so many others from this great man, resonated and stayed with me. It stays with me now, to this day.
His words and encouragement gave me hope to keep moving forward. His life, should give you inspiration to continue being a centered, moral, ethical and encouraged ‘leader for good.’
No one is perfect, and Shimon Peres qualifies here, too, but he led a life with his shoulder firmly planted against the wall of change. Some will complain about what he didn’t do, or things that happened during his tenures that they didn’t like, but one thing is clear — Shimon Peres showed up. He always tried. And I like what he did, much more than what others didn’t do.
Here is a nice quote from the Palestinian leader who summarizes this point: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas expressed his sorrow at the death of Peres today. He said he made, “persistent efforts to reach a just peace from the Oslo agreement until the final moments of his life.”
Shimon Peres, a founder of Israel who has worked with 10 U.S. Presidents and has held far too many titles of service to name, thank you sir. May your soul rest in peace.
May your family know, at this time of their own grieving, that you have lived a life ‘for good.’ Let them know that you are and forever will be — appreciated.
John Hope Bryant, Founder, Operation HOPE