Middle Eastern journey.
He played a part in restoring Britain's relations with Egypt after the Suez war of 1956. He helped influence British politicians towards the Cyprus settlement of 1959. He worked alongside Palestinian leaders for 30 years for a redress of their grievances which would also take account of the Israeli need for security. He has been numerous times to nearly all the countries of the Middle East and, with his wife Cherie, is trusted by a wide range of diplomats and political leaders and their families.
Two experiences, says Conner, led him to undertake this work of bringing a new dimension to seemingly intractable situations. The first was as a Cambridge undergraduate. `Cambridge in the Thirties was a glorious place with the old architecture, and the lawns that had been rolled for 500 years running down to the Cam. Life seemed delightfully free and easy.' One day this carefree existence was jolted by a friend who was active with the Oxford Group (later MRA). He asked Conner whether he had ever asked himself what he was living for? `Have you ever considered that a third of your life may have gone?' he added. This got Conner thinking. The friend suggested that God might have a purpose and plan for his life.
As he surveyed what was really guiding him, Conner thought of his girlfriend--and his car. `I had a marvellous 1927 Alvis 12/50. You can have no idea of the effect of driving it down King's Parade, with colleges on each side! You'd change down and scatter the mob with a noise like a Zeppelin. It was tremendous for the ego.' He was startled to get the clear thought that his life was ruled by what people thought of him, `how to be popular, how to be in with everyone'.
This realization led, among other things, to a decision to stop drinking--no small matter for his fellow members of the college rugby team. This, plus another decision that `from this time on I'm not going to let my life revolve around the search for sex', was the beginning of finding a faith in God and a new direction in his life. His faith became particularly real to him when his tank was under fire in the decisive battle of El Alamein. Prayer gave him freedom from fear and clarity on what manoeuvers to make to avoid being blown up.
This led to his second key experience. One night under the stars in the Libyan desert, he suddenly saw that victory in war was not of itself going to cure the conflicts induced by the materialist ideologies of right or left. `What came clear to me,' he says, `was the absolute priority need in the world for people fully committed to being open to the will of God for this shattered world.'
He became convinced that his own experiences of finding inner freedom, at university and in battle, could be found by ordinary people and political leaders in any situation. For those who would return from war, not least Cambridge graduates, lucrative careers were beckoning. Conner decided that, if he returned, he would be fully available to God, whatever the cost.
Looking back after a life-time of interaction with the Middle East, he feels that whatever he may have contributed there, he has learned a great deal from his Moslem and other friends and that his and Cherie's lives have been immeasurably enriched.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||For A Change|
|Date:||Jun 1, 1996|
|Previous Article:||Identity clash: born in Ethiopia, raised in Britain, Kumar Raval has one foot in the East and one in the West.|
|Next Article:||Jean Monnet: the first statesman of interdependence.|
|Exploring Spiritual Direction. (Featured Reviews).|
|The Journey of the Lost Boys.|
|Homes, A.M. This book will save your life.|
|Churches gather to promote unity among Christians.|