Reverend Benjamin Weir Reflects on Working Toward Peace

There was only darkness. The blindfold over my eyes completely blocked out the light. I was lying on my back on a low bed. The unforgettable sound of adhesive tape being unwound from its roll filled the room. Strong hands wrapped this wide packing tape around my head, over my forehead, eyes, and mouth, and around my neck. Only a small space over my nostrils was left open.

Next, my arms and hands were held close to my sides, and the tape was wound slowly around my whole body, starting with the legs and moving up past my shoulders. I was being totally encased. Someone forced me into a sitting position, and another layer of tape was wound around my neck, under my chin, and over the top of my head. I was a hostage bound.

Arms lifted me from the bed and carried me out. My body was pushed into a long narrow container. I heard a lid being closed and bolted over me. I could feel solid metal through my shoeless feet. I raised my head a few inches and struck a solid metal top. I moved my hips from side to side as best I could and found metal on either side. I lay there like a corpse in a coffin. . . .

Life is divinely given. Each person is to be respected and deserves to be heard. The captors themselves need to be set free. We are all recipients of God's mercy and forgiveness. On that basis we can begin to trust each other and find the constructive things we can do together as Muslims and Christians.

While we become advocates for the homeless, the unemployed, the disenfranchised, and the discouraged within our own borders, we are called to look beyond our own society to the world and its needs. Faith lets you know that you can't just stand back and say, I'm not here, hoping the trouble will go away. We must learn to live together.


A Note From Photographer Michael Collopy

This portrait was taken on Good Friday. As evidenced by the yellow ribbon on his lapel, several hostages remained in Beirut, Lebanon, where Reverend Weir had been held for sixteen months. There was clearly a weight on his shoulders, but he also showed a tremendous faith that God would provide a peaceful solution in the end.




Resources for Teachers and Students