foreword by Ishmael Beah
international bestselling author of A Long Way Gone
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From the back
Are you my enemy? Am I yours?
Violent stories surround us. Brutal beginnings, horror-filled middles, despair-inducing endings. We need better stories: stories forged in the furnace of conflict, narratives that kindle compassion and ignite hope. In the pages of I Am Not Your Enemy, writer Michael T. McRay visits divided regions of the world and interviews activists, peacebuilders, former combatants about their personal stories of conflict, justice, and reconciliation. In Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa, he hears from grieving parents who partner together across enemy lines, a woman who meets her father’s killer, and a man who uses theater to counter the oppression of his people, and many more.
In a time of heightened alienation and fear, McRay offers true, sacred stories of reconciliation and justice, asking what they can teach us about our own divided states. Must violence be met with violence? Is my belonging complete only when I take away yours? Will more guns, more walls, more weapons keep us safe?
We need stories that cultivate empathy and tell the truth. We need stories to save us from our fear.
“…important, timely, and needed … McRay … has prepared the path for us to start that journey in finding wisdom again in stories as opposed to fear.”
— from the foreword by Ishmael Beah, bestselling author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
“Michael McRay gets poignantly to the heart of the matter. This is a book about the varied faces of grief and love and reconciliation. It is incisive, smart, and acutely necessary for our times.”
— Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon and Let the Great World Spin, winner of the National Book Award
“Michael McRay brilliantly weaves stories … Read this book and be moved to tears yet also inspired by hope.”
— Raja Shehadeh, author of Going Home and Palestinian Walks
“This book is a muscle, an ache, a practice of asking the troubling questions at the heart of peace.”
— Pádraig Ó Tuama, poet, theologian, and host of Poetry Unbound with On Being
“Michael McRay has written a stunning book … This book can help all of us get our bearings…”
— Becca Stevens, Founder & President, Thistle Farms
“As a Black womanist peace-builder advancing reconciliation, I spend time confronting, deconstructing, and reconstructing definitions of reconciliation all the time … What Michael McRay offers us … is the collective testimony of people across the world whose stories rebuke … cheap reconciliation and challenge us to aim for more.”
— Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, Executive Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation
“This is the gift of a brilliant book and … a more timely set of stories can hardly be imagined.”
— John Paul Lederach, international peacebuilder and author of The Moral Imagination
“As a peacebuilder and citizen of the deeply divided country of Bosnia-Herzegovina, I know firsthand the necessity of Michael’s stories and wisdom. There are ways out of the old logic of enemies. This book, at its best, shows us how.”
— Zana Marjanović, actress, filmmaker, former Member of Parliament, Bosnia-Herzegovina
“[T]his book is so important. Michael McRay is a caretaker of stories, and he’s a master at it.”
— Shane Claiborne, bestselling author, speaker, activist, and co-founder of Red Letter Christians
“I Am Not Your Enemy is a timely illustration of the human spirit craving liberation, justice, dignity and equality … Michael McRay takes us on an unforgettable journey through the Holy Land, Ireland, and South Africa.”
— Samar Ali, Founding President of Millions of Conversations
“Michael understands the power of story to transform how we envision and relate to the world.”
— Pamela Olson, author of Fast Times in Palestine
“This is a book that should be taken very seriously indeed.”
— Fanie Du Toit, Senior Fellow, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Cape Town, South Africa
“Michael McRay is one of the few authors I’ve met who has the sharp ability to immerse himself in areas of conflict, then bring the experience to life in writing.”
— Salim Munayer, director of Musalaha Ministry of Reconciliation, Jerusalem
“These stories of rehumanization, justice, and reconciliation are perfect for our times.”
— Karla McLaren, M.Ed., author of The Art of Empathy and The Language of Emotions
“…warm, inviting, and even important … [Michael McRay] is a truthful, caring, and inspirational guide to rethinking the stories that imprison us, and reimagine ones that could set us free.”
— Gareth Higgins, founder The Porch Magazine and Movies & Meaning, and co-founder Wild Goose Festival and New Story Festival
“These are stories that have travelled continents, written in the tears of others, inviting us to listen.”
— Jarrod McKenna, Founding Director of CommonGrace.org.au, First Home Project for Refugees and co-host of the popular InVerse Podcast