These words are already in the language

Social Integration

A process allowing members of a society to achieve and maintain peaceful social relations through dialogue. Social Integration is focused on the need to move toward a safe, stable and just society by forming and mending conditions of social disintegration – social fragmentation, exclusion and polarization; and by expanding and strengthening conditions of social integration – towards peaceful social relations of coexistence, collaboration and cohesion.

Sharing

The joint use of a resource or space. The process of dividing and distributing.

Cooperation

The process of groups working or acting together for their common/mutual benefit, as opposed to working in competition for selfish benefit.

Peace

A period of harmony between different social groups that is characterized by lack of violence or conflict behaviors, and the freedom from fear of violence.

Lovers

Be great if the ideals expressed in these words could be translated into pragmatic actions on the ground in Israel and Palestine, and a few other places in the so called Middle East.

It’s fairly obvious that the people with the power do not want peace in the Middle East – they want domination – at any cost. How many more lives need to be sacrificed before they wake up?

Enough already!

Radical advice from an unexpected quarter

I’m sitting in the equivalent of a cave, in New York, with a view over lower Manhattan that transforms into a colourful spectacle, as the sun slips below the horizon and the light, spilling from hundreds of apartment windows and from atop the One World Trade Center, twinkles in the darkness.

Inside it’s snug and warm. Outside it’s freezing cold. So, I often pass the time reading. This week I read a short book titled Doing Sixty & Seventy by Gloria Steinem. Americans of a certain age will know who she is. For the rest of us, suffice it to say that she was the founder of Ms magazine and is an articulate activist for gender, racial and other civil inequity issues.You can find out more at www.gloriasteinem.com

On page 31 of the book, I came across this radical advice, which she had received in the 1950s from a man who had devoted his life to Gandhian tactics of direct action:

  • If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them.
  • If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live.
  • If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye.

This is a reminder that we need to engage with our ‘enemies’ if we want them to become our ‘friends’. I think this is true as much for us as individuals as it is for nation states or political parties or religious groups.

 Engaging eye-to-eye
Engaging eye-to-eye

One of the great failures of our age is the us versus them mindset that appears to dominate international relations. I can only cringe when I am reminded of the ‘axis of evil’ speech of a recent US President. The long overdue normalisation of relations between the US and Cuba is slowly moving towards reality, thanks to both sides being prepared to sit down and talk to each other instead of at each other.

What could be the outcome if the warring parties in the Middle East could do the same? Or in Ukraine, or the hundreds of other places riven by conflict?

You cannot turn your enemies into your friends if you insist on labelling them terrorists and refuse to talk with them.

This advice is something we need to keep in mind when, with the best of intentions, we intervene to solve someone else’s problem, whether we are an NGO providing development aid or a friend trying to help out. Unless it’s a life or death emergency, where immediate action is required to avert the danger, it always works out better if we engage with the people we are trying to help, instead of simply imposing our solution to a problem we don’t really understand. How do you put the situation into its proper context if you don’t make the effort to find out what the real situation is?

I’m sure we can all come up with an example of how our best intentioned actions have only made the matter worse. If all of us husbands simply took the time to listen instead of going straight to solution mode, I’m sure our relationships would improve. Most times she wants you to listen to her, to see her, and understand how she feels about the situation. Guys, that means we need to practise the three steps listed above. And, it works the other way round, too.

Was that man talking to Gloria in India onto something? I think he was.

Leave a comment and let me know if you agree or not.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter

Time for peace in the Middle East

Peace is extended, not imposed.

You cannot extend peace with guns, rockets, tanks or any other means of violence.

You use violence (war) to impose defeat – not peace.

To extend peace requires an open heart, not a closed fist.

What is it about the obvious that the men with guns in the Middle East don’t get?

The conflict in the Middle East has been going on since the 1920s, with increasing levels of violence or warfare from 1948 onwards.

What’s going on there is definitely not about peace. It’s about the other p word: power.

It’s action driven by ideology not compassion or understanding.

Why else would Hamas provoke an Israeli bombardment on Gaza by firing thousands of rockets into Israel?

How many Palestinians have to lose their lives this time? For what?

Hamas has no prospect of winning a military conflict with Israel.

And, let’s not get the idea that Israel is blameless here either.

Gaza is the largest prison on earth.

There’s a wall between Israel and the West Bank.

You’d think that a people who had experienced persecution and holocaust would be less inclined to inflict those experiences on their neighbours.

If you think that’s a bit strong – what’s the difference between being gassed to death in a concentration camp and being bombed to death in your home in Gaza? The victims were locked in the concentration camp and they’re locked in Gaza.

No need to argue over the legalities of it being a war crime. War is a crime against humanity, every time.

Enough!

Time to silence the guns.

Time to step back from the ideology.

Time for Hamas to recognise Israel exists and is not going away.

Time for Israel to drop all the rhetoric about Hamas being a terrorist organisation.

Time to stop blaming each other.

Time to stop denying the present reality.

Time for all sides to start talking honestly.

Time for Hamas to tell their backers they want humanitarian aid and a functioning economy – not guns and rockets.

Time for Israel to tear down the fences and open the borders.

Time for integration not division.

Time for Palestinians and Israeli to embrace each other as brothers and sisters and not enemies.

Time for ordinary citizens to speak up and demand that their leaders listen to them – instead of killing them.

Time for a solution.

Time for peace to break out in the Middle East.

Dove

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.