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Selling a Vision of Hope: A Refreshing Alternative to Armageddon

Look inside Nissim Dahan's book Selling a Vision of Hope with Google Books.

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Migration funding should be 'innovative', Juncker tells Renzi

European Commission President Juncker addresses the Parliamentary of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg
The European Commission wants to find "innovative" financial resources to address the root causes of migration in Africa and elsewhere, the EU executive's president Jean-Claude Juncker said in a letter to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Europe is grappling with its largest migration wave since World War Two, as the traditional flow of migrants from Africa is compounded by refugees fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East and South Asia. Renzi urged the EU to issue common bonds to fund a more ambitious migration policy in Africa - a funding method that is anathema to Germany, the EU's leading power.

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Vision of Hope
Archive >> September 2011
file under: Middle East PeaceFreedomArab Spring 25 Sep 2011 3:42 PM
So It's Freedom You Want? Posted by Nissim Dahan
 

People the world over cry out for "freedom," but how often do we sit down and think about what it really means to be free?

 

Over the years, different people the world over embraced different interpretations of "freedom."

 

Janice Joplin used to sing of freedom as "...nothing left to lose." Is that what it means to be free? Or is that the state of mind that is needed to put everything on the line, and to venture forth in search of freedom?

 

The framers of the U.S. Constitution thought of freedom as conferring certain inalienable rights to the citizenry, such as freedom of religion, speech, a free press, free assembly, and free association.

 

On January 6, 1941, President Roosevelt spoke of the four fundamental freedoms that people "everywhere in the world" are entitled to: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

 

However you define it, the notion of freedom has captured hearts and minds of people in all four corners of the world. And still somehow, it is often difficult to define what exactly it means to be free. Yet we realize, as we fight for freedom, that it is important to understand what it is to be free, so that at the end of the day, we know what it is we're looking for, and recognize what it is when we finally find it.

 

Certainly there is a role for government to play in assuring to their people the basic right of freedom. Liberty is enhanced to the extent that governments undo the shackles of oppressive rule, external control, interference, regulation, etc. Freedom also grows as a person comes to believe that he is the master of his destiny and that he can make the decisions to chart his course in life, without excessive and unreasonable interference from government. And of course, freedom connotes a fundamental respect for human life, and the protection of a person's right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

 

However, just as government can play its role, the individual himself has a role to play as well, in fighting for and sustaining a sense of personal freedom. It could well be argued that the greatest freedom of all is the freedom to think. Rene Descartes famously said, "I think, therefore I am." Inherent in the human condition, and our existence as free human beings, is our ability to think, and I would add, our ability to think clearly, with common sense and personal dignity, unhampered by the biases, suspicions, prejudices and superstitions which are thrust upon us, at an early age, by the societies we find ourselves.

 

As we search for freedom in such diverse places as the Middle East, or the Far East, or the West, or wherever the need arises; if it is really freedom we're after, and if we dare to be true to ourselves, then we have no choice but to let go of past prejudices and wrong-headed thinking, in favor of what makes sense, and what promises hope for the future.

 

Our challenge, as freedom fighters, is not an easy one. All too often, we are called upon to put everything on the line, in hope of finding something that may never be found. But perhaps the greatest challenge of all, as we seek our freedom, and the freedom of others, is to break the chains that bind us to the thinking of the past, and that keep us imprisoned in the psychological cages that we have built for ourselves. If we find the courage and the wisdom to break these chains of the mind, then, and only then, will we shine the light on the path to freedom.

file under: Arab Springa new model for the Middle East911 11 Sep 2011 3:45 PM
9/11 and The Arab Spring Posted by Nissim Dahan
 

In this ambiguous world of ours it is often difficult to find moral clarity, even when it comes to seemingly black and white issues like 9/11 and the Arab Spring. And the question arises therefore: How do we bring moral clarity to a world that is mired in confusion and chaos?

 

The Taliban were not exactly a friendly bunch when they ran things in Afghanistan. They made life difficult for the people with their distorted version of Islam. They kept women covered up and hidden away in the shadows. And they allowed al Qaeda to recruit and train in preparation for 9/11.

 

The consequences of the terror attack ran deep and have changed the course of human destiny forever. Three-thousand innocent civilians were murdered, and things would never be the same. A War On Terror was launched. Regime change was undertaken in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in recent months, perhaps as an indirect consequence, the Arab Spring has taken hold in the Middle East, bringing with it the prospect of regime change throughout the region, in response to a call by the people for freedom and jobs.

 

Yet still somehow there is little that has been resolved in the Middle East, even ten years since the towers of the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And there are few prospects, at this point in time, that the hopes and aspirations of the Arab Spring will bear fruit. We can see, lurking in the shadows, all sorts of shady characters who remain poised to pounce on the opportunity to assume the reins of power, and to impose on the people their lopsided versions of right and wrong.

 

9/11 was a defining moment in American history, but what did it mean? The Arab Spring is a defining moment in Middle East history, but where will it lead? Will the hopes and aspirations of the people be realized? Or will the War On Terror and the Arab Spring be footnotes in the annals of history; cast aside as missed opportunities to bring about real change?

In order for 9/11 and the Arab Spring to achieve the measure of meaning they deserve, we need to raise the fight on the ground, against terror and against oppression, to a higher moral plane, by giving the fight a moral clarity of purpose. We need to make sense of it all, for it to make a difference in the day to day lives of everyday people.

 

 To bring moral clarity to the confusion of our time, we must embrace a vision that makes sense, and that inspires in people a sense of hope. And then we must find the courage to give substance to the vision and make it real.

 

The vision for our time is, and must be, a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom. It is a vision that makes sense of the wars that we are waging, and that inspires in us the belief that things can get better, if people of good will, people like us, choose to make it so. Positioned in the proper context, our struggles assume a greater sense of purpose. We are not fighting a "War on Terror." We are fighting a war to realize a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom. There's a big difference. We are not fighting to kill Gadhafi, or to execute Mubarak. We are fighting to bless our people with the dignity that comes from decent jobs and personal freedoms.

 

To bring justice to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in the Arab Spring, build 100 Green Industrial Zones throughout the region, using Arab capital, along with Arab, Israeli and American knowhow. Create jobs that grow our economies, that protect the environment, and that help to weaken the hold of extremist thinking. Use state-of-the-art green technology to address the environmental issues of the region such as clean water, food production, green energy and healthcare. Show that the lives lost, and the battles waged, served a greater purpose, a purpose that inspires a sense of hope in things to come.

 

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is a time to reflect and to remember. As we remember those who lost their lives in such a brutal fashion, let us also reflect on how best to do justice to the sanctity of those precious lives, by embracing a Vision of Hope, and giving substance to that vision with changes which will inspire in people a sense of hope for the future, and a belief that their struggles will not have been in vain.