Change the Frame, Change the Game
“Four thousand years ago a man and his family walked across this region, and the world has never been the same since,” Ury says in his TEDx Talk. Ibrahim’s basic values were respect, kindness toward strangers, and hospitality. “You walk into towns in the Middle East, where you may expect hostility, and instead you get hospitality: In the name of Father Ibrahim let me offer you food, dates, a cup of tea.”
In 2003, Ury, a Harvard-trained anthropologist, and friends in Boulder, Colorado, wrestled with how to stem trends of violence of the region. Every culture has an origin story. What is the origin story of the Fertile Crescent? The legend of Ibrahim. And the idea of a walking path was born, following in the footsteps of Abraham.” People would meet and get to know one another through certified guides and homestays.
The path is also about economics. When people walk, they spend money. Umm Ahmad was struggling to make ends meet in her northern Jordan village. She had seven children, her husband was disabled, they lived in one room. Her great strength was cooking. Walkers started coming to eat at her home. The home was expanded. She gained respect. “You have made me visible in a village where people were once ashamed to look at me,” Umm Ahmad told API.
Dr. Joshua Weiss, Ury’s co-founder, thought this project had a 10% chance of making it. “And here we are, 16 years later, having catalyzed walking trails in Jordan, Palestine, Sinai, Turkey, and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. When William first described the Abraham Path to me, he asked me what I thought. Without blinking an eye, I said, ‘I think it’s crazy. And we should do it.’