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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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U.S. split deepens over Putin's intentions in Syria civil war

Russian military jets flying from Syria seen shortly before landing at airbase in Voronezh region
By Jonathan Landay and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia?s latest military moves in Syria have sharpened divisions within the U.S. administration over whether Russian President Vladimir Putin genuinely backs a U.N.-led initiative to end the civil war or is using the negotiations to mask renewed military support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia has repositioned artillery near the disputed city of Aleppo, several U.S. officials told Reuters. Despite withdrawing some fixed-wing aircraft in March, Russia has also bolstered its forces in Syria with advanced helicopter gunships, and renewed airstrikes against moderate opposition groups, said U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Listen to an interview with Nissim Dahan on the Tom Marr Show.

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Vision of Hope
Category >> transition
file under: transitionpeacemoderate majorityfrom hate to hopeforeign policyeconomic developmentcommon sensecharitable investment 28 May 2008 6:34 PM
If you were Barack Obama, how would you Sell a Vision of Hope for the Middle East? Posted by Nissim Dahan
Given the choice, most voters would rather forget about the Middle East. With so many pressing problems here at home, it is hard to keep worrying about that precarious place. But the Middle East is not easily forgotten. In the first place, our oil supply, which continues to fuel our economy until we find feasible alternatives, requires a measure of stability in the region. And in the second place, John McCain has stated repeatedly that the threat of Islamic extremism is the transcendent issue of our time. So how should Senator Obama speak about the Middle East, so as to inspire Americans with a sense of hope in that regard, and so as to meet the challenges he will face from Republicans on this important issue?

 

Americans are responding enthusiastically to Senator Obama's call for hope and change. Along these same lines, there is no reason why a message of hope and change cannot include the Middle East as well. In fact, Senator Obama would be well advised to give substance to his message of hope and change by selling Americans, and people around the world, on a Vision of Hope for the Middle East. In a very real sense, if people can become inspired with hope when it comes to the precarious Middle East, then they could definitely become inspired about a whole host of other issues, which are a lot less contentious. So let the Middle East be the test for the possibility of hope.

 

Keeping all this in mind, how would you go about inspiring people with a Vision of Hope for the Middle East?

 

Selling a Vision of Hope has five parts to it, like the five fingers of your hand:

 

The thumb is for Ideology:  The world, which is increasingly becoming globalized economically and technologically, is ready for a new ideological framework-an Ideology of Common Sense-based on universal principles of common sense;  by which we speak to one another with common sense and with a sense of personal dignity. Instead of believing what we want to believe, it is time to start believing in what makes sense. In a more perfect world, common sense will inspire our thinking and inform our speech. How do wed begin to come together?  In our fractured world, common sense is the common denominator.

 

The index finger if for Investment: We should invest in one another to create good paying jobs which inspire a sense of hope, which protect the environment, and which help to neutralize ideological extremism. If the West is good at anything it is making and investing money. Why not use this strength as part of our strategic arsenal to promote the peace and to defeat extremism? We can use public and private funds to create an International Fund for Economic Development in the Middle East, under the banner, "We stand ready to invest in you, if you are ready to invest in yourselves." Good paying jobs there could create good paying jobs here at home, by opening up new markets for our goods and services. And with green technology jobs, we could help convert oil profits into green profits, and begin to clean up the environment as well.

 

The middle finger is for Hope: We could use an Ideology of Common Sense along with some well placed Investment Dollars to sell a Vision of Hope-a vision of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom-on the Arab street, in the Muslim world, and in the world as a whole. Einstein came up with E=mc2. Thankfully, the formula for world peace is a lot simpler: Ideology plus Investment equals Hope, and with hope, all things are possible, even the impossible dream of peace.

 

The ring finger is for Public Diplomacy: Once you sell a Vision of Hope, it becomes important to sustain the vision, by launching a series of Public Diplomacy Programs which are specifically designed to prop the vision up and to carry it forward, such as: a Media Campaign, a program to Empower Women, a Student Exchange, a Cultural Exchange, an expanded version of the Peace Corps, and a series of International Conferences on economics, religion, and education.

 

Take, for example, the program to Empower Women. Empower women in the Middle East, in ways that they deem appropriate, and you will have changed the face of the Middle East. Who are women? They are the givers of life and the caretakers of life, and as such are uniquely qualified to reconstitute their societies consistent with a Vision of Hope.

 

The pinky is for the willingness to Fight: If we already have to fight against ideological extremism, and we do, then we should fight, and fight hard, but we should position the fight within a Vision of Hope. We should elevate the fight on the ground to a higher moral plain, by giving the fight a moral clarity of purpose. People will fight harder once they know what they're fighting for. We're not fighting a war against terror. We're fighting a war to realize a Vision of Hope. There's a big difference.

 

 

By speaking this way, Senator Obama will neutralize any attempt to cast him as soft on terror, while at the same time inspiring a sense of hope for the Middle East. In effect, he will empower our nation to face the ideological extremists head on. Selling a Vision of Hope is a way of beating the extremists at their own game, of doing what they do only better, of co-opting their strategy and thereby marginalizing them in the eyes of their own people.

 

If the extremists are ideological about violent Jihad, we will be ideological about Common Sense. If they invest peanuts in charitable handouts, we will invest some serious dollars in jobs. If they sell a vision of hope for 72 virgins, or martyrdom, or paradise, or a caliphate, or what have you, we will sell a Vision of Hope for Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom.

 

At every turn, we will cut them off at the pass, and beat them at their own game. We will marginalize them in the eyes of their own people. They will become pariahs in the midst and will come to know the loneliness of being out of step with the will of the people. The will of the people will not be deterred. In the final analysis, the ideological extremists will not be able to capture the public's imagination, once people begin to imagine the possibility of a better life for themselves.

 

Ask yourself this: Where will peace ultimately come from? When all is said and done, peace will come from the heart and the mind of the man on the street. We can win his mind by speaking to him with Common Sense and with a sense of personal dignity. We can win his heart by investing in him-by giving him a place at the table, a stake in his future. And we can win the peace by selling him on a Vision of Hope. Give the man on the street a sense of hope and you will have turned the corner on world peace. Nothing less will suffice, and nothing more is needed.

 

As Barack Obama is suggesting, start with a vision, a big Vision of Hope. Give it some substance on the ground. And soon enough, the reality on the ground will fill up the space created by the vision. Such is the dynamic for change in the world, and such is the prescription for change in the Middle East. This may well be the time, before time runs out, to dream the impossible, and to make the impossible come true.

 

For more information, please visit our website at www.sellingavisionofhope.org

file under: transitionglobal warmingfrom hate to hopeeconomic developmentcharitable investment 24 Apr 2008 5:15 PM
What If Being Good Were Made Profitable? Posted by Nissim Dahan
The political philosopher, Machiavelli, concluded that "fear" was the best tool a leader could use to keep his subjects under control. And there is no doubt that fear has worked well over the centuries to keep people in line. But could it be that in today's globalized world a new organizing principle may be emerging?

 

Take China, for example. I don't doubt that the leaders there would like nothing more than to crack a few more heads in Tibet. They are tempted to use fear to quell the dissention there. Why, because they rule over a huge number of people, situated in a varied array of political, religious, economic, and social subgroups. If Tibetan dissention were allowed to bear fruit; what other repercussions would likely ensue? And for the Chinese leadership, the loss of order would pose an existential threat.

 

And yet, with all the incentive to use the Machiavellian notion of fear, China realizes that there is a limit to what she can do in this regard, given the context of the new economic and diplomatic realities she finds herself in. The Olympics are coming up, and too many cracked heads would not be exactly in keeping with the Olympic spirit of international friendship and fair play. And there are also all those trading partners to think of. A massive crack down would not bode well for good business relations.

 

The conundrum in which China finds herself is indicative of a new organizing principle at the heart of international affairs-and that is the principle of maximizing profits. Of course, the inclination to maximize profits has always been around, but in a globalized economy, in which market share and profitability are everything, profit is becoming an ideological imperative.

 

Now some of you may think that the quest for profits is perhaps a shallow endeavor, not worthy of much consideration, and not indicative of the more noble aspects of the human condition. But I, for one, think that the hunger for profits could be used to energize a rational approach to solving some of the most intractable problems and existential threats we face.

 

Ask yourself this: What are the most serious problems we face? I would point to three in particular: Ideological Extremism, the threat to the Environment, and widespread Poverty. Could the need to maximize profits in a global economy help to bring solutions to these global problems? I think it's possible that the answer is, yes.

 

In a global economy, the major players are in constant search of new markets for their goods and services, and for a ready supply of natural resources, like oil. Look at China trying to open up new markets wherever she can. Is it possible that the competitive nature of a global economy may be conducive to healing some of the world's ills?

 

Let's say for example that you want to tackle the problem of ideological extremism. Well, you could easily conclude that creating good paying jobs in third world countries will help to neutralize extremism. Good paying jobs will not necessarily sway the extremists themselves, but they will make it more difficult for the extremists to sell their ideological wares. The vast majority of people will be less susceptible to extremist ideology once they are able to hold on to good paying jobs and provide for their families. So in this example, the search for profits becomes a search for new markets, which in turn means the creation of good paying jobs. The need to protect profits coincides with the need to quell extremism, which widespread employment will help to do.

 

Let's say that you want to protect the environment. So ask yourself this: How can we make environmental protection profitable? Well, a barrel of oil is now selling close to $120. The profit margin there may now be great enough to allow green technology to compete profitably. So, as part of the ubiquitous search for profits, you create jobs, which produce green technology products, which help to clean the earth up, and quite possibly reverse the course of Global Warming. You see, it's not that we want to be good by cleaning up the earth. God forbid. It's more that we clean up the earth because we can turn a profit. But if the earth ends up cleaner, then who cares what the motivations were?

 

Let's say that you want to eliminate extreme poverty; along with the hunger, disease, and homelessness that necessarily come with it. You could ask for charitable donations, but don't hold your breath. History shows that people are not as charitable as they ought to be. So ask yourself this: How do we make it profitable to end poverty? Once again, look to the profit motive of wealthy nations and corporations, and play to their ambitions.

 

For example, in a global economy it is important to keep the wheels of economic activity turning. Poverty is an obstacle to profits because poor people, with nothing to lose, can easily succumb to extremist thinking. Therefore, in our never ending search for profits, we will need to open up new markets for our goods and services, and we will need access to natural resources. And we can't let poor people get in the way. Therefore, in order to create new markets, we will create new jobs, for people to be able to buy our goods, and at the same time, with their stomachs full, they will be less susceptible to extremist thinking, so as to allow the profits to keep rolling in.

 

The idea here is not all that complicated. If it is indeed true that the new organizing principle of the global economy is profitability, then it makes sense to put all this ambition to good use. It may well be possible to structure the global economy in such a way, that the need to improve the bottom line will coincide with the need to solve some of the big global problems which lie at our doorstep. As such, we will become good not due to our innate sense of goodness, but because being good will be our ticket to being profitable.

file under: vision of hopetransitionSaudi Arabiapeacemoneyglobal warmingfrom hate to hopeeconomic development 5 Feb 2008 9:01 PM
The Hamsa and the Businessman Posted by Nissim Dahan
Most of you probably know what a Hamsa is. Right? For those who don't; it is a good luck symbol, in the shape of a hand, which has been around as part of Arab and Jewish cultures for centuries. Most Hamsas feature an "eye" to protect from the "evil eye." And in recent times, a great many feature a "dove" to symbolize peace.

 

What would you say is the evil that we need protection from in this day and age? For what it's worth, today's evil is the evil of ideological extremism. And I'm not just talking about extremist religious fundamentalism. I'm talking about all kinds of ideological extremes, including the belief that we should keep our economies running on fossil fuels, even at the expense of cooking ourselves to death.

 

As some of you know, I am a strong believer in Selling a Vision of Hope, as the antidote to some of the insanity we see swirling around us. As you look at the five fingers of the hand of the Hamsa, think of the five aspects of Selling a Vision of Hope:

 

1. The thumb is for Ideology: Instead of believing what you want to believe, start believing in what makes sense. Use an Ideology of Common Sense to speak to one another with Common Sense and with a sense of personal dignity.

 

2. The index finger is for Investment: Use public and private funds to create an International Fund for Economic Development in the Middle East under the banner: "We stand ready to invest in you, if you are ready to invest in yourselves." Invest in projects which inspire a sense of hope, which create jobs, and which protect the environment."

 

3. The middle finger is for Hope: Use an Ideology of Common Sense along with some well placed Investment Dollars to Sell a Vision of Hope-a Vision of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom-on the Arab street, in the Muslim world, and in the world as a whole.

 

4. The ring finger is for Public Diplomacy: Once you sell a Vision of Hope, you sustain the Hope by launching a series of Public Diplomacy Programs which are specifically designed to prop a Vision of Hope up, and to carry it forward, such as: a Media Campaign, a program to Empower Women, a Student Exchange, a Cultural Exchange, an expanded version of the Peace Corps, and a series of International Conferences.

 

5. The pinky is for the willingness to Fight: When necessary, and it will be necessary, fight, and fight hard, against the forces of extremism, wherever they may be found, but position the fight within a Vision of Hope. Raise the fight on the ground to a higher moral plain by giving the fight a moral clarity of purpose. People will fight harder once they know what the hell they're fighting for. For example, we are not fighting a "war against terror." We are fighting a war to realize a Vision of Hope. There's a big difference.

 

That's pretty much it. Now let me ask you this: If you want to give some substance to Selling a Vision of Hope, what kind of project would you recommend? I need your advice. What kind of project would say to the world that a Vision of Hope could be made real if people choose to make it so?

 

Here's one idea. See what you think. We get a consortium of Arab and Israeli businesspeople to build a factory on the West Bank. They get funding from Saudi Arabia, believe it or not. They hire and train local Palestinian workers to produce a product which is especially suited to protect the environment. For example, they could produce a long lasting battery to power cars. You pull into a gas station and switch out your battery, instead of filling up on gas. The research for this product comes from a leading university in Israel, or elsewhere, which specializes in green technology. The project is successful, and attracts more money, for more projects, for more jobs, and for more eco-friendly products.

 

Why would the Saudis fund such a project, you may well ask, especially since it promotes green technology? Here are a few possible reasons: The Saudis could use some good PR for a change. They would be using oil profits to protect the earth, and to stabilize the region with good paying jobs. What a concept! They would diversify their investments, and made good money, by getting in on the ground floor of technology that the entire world wants. Good jobs would help neutralize some of the ideological rhetoric, as in the case of China, and India. As people begin to make a living, and begin to imagine a better life, the allure of extremism will diminish. Business has a way of creating its own ideological imperative. Eventually, this effort could pave the way for substantive peace, not just BS, which would bless the House of Saud with a good measure of peace of mind. Everybody wins, even the earth, except maybe the extremists.

 

So what do you think? Any chance of making something happen along these lines? Are we overlooking anything? Are we on to something, or just spinning our wheels? A penny for you thoughts.

file under: transitionfrom hate to hope 29 Dec 2007 11:14 AM
Are Clean Hands Possible In a World So Filled With Dirt? Posted by Nissim Dahan
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto filled me with sadness, and reminded me of the sense of hopelessness that permeates much of the world.

 

I am not a student of Pakistan's history. And I have been made to understand, of late, that in the past, Mrs. Bhutto represented a mixed bag with respect to the aspirations of her people. Yes, there are persistent charges of corruption, and accusations that she supported the Taliban. But I can't believe that her legacy will be defined only by her negatives.

 

There are several things to consider when we seek to judge her. She was a woman who defied the odds and was twice elected to lead a country that was not predisposed to elect her. Yes, she was driven out on charges of corruption, but, and this should not be underestimated, she chose to come back home. She was not naïve. She knew she faced a grave threat to her personal safety, a point that was driven home when she just arrived. And yet she chose to come back to compete in the political arena. Could blind ambition, alone, explain that? I think not. There must have been some noble aspiration on her part that compelled her to take the risk. Perhaps she learned from past mistakes and wanted to set things right? We can only guess.

 

In addition, how do we explain the immense popular support she enjoyed among her people? Are people totally blind? If she was so corrupt, and so indifferent to their aspirations, how then would they continue to support her so enthusiastically? They must have seen in her some hope for their country, and decided collectively to forgive her at least some of her past sins, for the sake of the hope she inspired in them. Aren't people entitled to decide accordingly? Isn't that the essence of democratic rule?

 

Was she a saint? Probably not. But then again, we've all been complicit in creating a world where saintliness doesn't cut it. The weak are crushed by the strong. And even goodness itself has to find a way to maneuver in the midst of evil.

 

The world is filled with moral vagaries. If a political system is corrupt, are you morally right, as a leader, to play the game, if doing so will give you the political power to do some good? Can we afford the luxury of a clean conscience, at the expense of not delving into the dirt; for fear that our hands may become dirty as well? How do we orchestrate the interplay between good and evil and still be able to look ourselves in the mirror every day?

 

Whatever else may be said of her, Benazir Bhutto was one hell of a fighter. She may or may not have had dirt on her hands; a clouded past, and a mixed bag of intentions, but she came back, sleeves rolled up, ready to fight. And at the very least, she said the right things, the things that inspired a sense of hope in her people. For that, she should be remembered well, even as we hold her accountable for past sins.

 

There are lessons here, but it is difficult to muddle through them, much as the truth is hard to decipher in the midst of all the nonsense which surrounds it. A political system which is corrupt will produce corrupt leaders. But leaders who wish to do good may have to play the game if they wish to make a difference. It is not enough to know that your hands are clean. It is sometimes necessary to get them dirty for the sake of the greater good. And in the final analysis, it may well be up to women of courage to save the world. Men may have become too full of themselves. It may well be up to women to use their God-given common sense to dispel some of the myths which hold us all back, and to really protect their babies by making the world safe once and for all.

 

We have allowed the sad state of affairs in today's world to cloud our thinking, and to taint the purity of innocence. It is hard to see things clearly, and to imagine the possibility that our leaders can be true to their most noble aspirations. We live in a cynical world, where the very possibility of goodness is held hostage by the reality of evil. And yet we have no choice but to hope that things can get better, and that it is our destiny to make it so.

 

What we see in the life and death of Benazir Bhutto is the playing out of many aspects of the human condition. We look at her, not quite sure of what conclusions to draw, and not at all confident in any judgments we choose to make. And yet we see in her a life that came and went, a life that made a difference, and a life that was cut short before realizing its full potential. What that potential would have been we will never know.

file under: vision of hopetransitioneconomic developmentcommon sense 11 Oct 2007 4:57 PM
What's All The Killing About? (may not be suitable for people of a human persuasion) Posted by Nissim Dahan
Daniel Pipes, a renowned analyst of the Middle East, just published a list compiled, in part, by Gunnar Heinsohn, showing how many people were killed, since 1950, in all the various conflicts around the world. His point was that the Arab-Israeli conflict gets undo attention because it ranks only 49th   among the 67 bloodiest conflicts, with "only" 51,000 fatalities, as compared to some of the others.

 

Please take the time to look at some of the numbers.

 

1

40,000,000

Red China, 1949-76 (outright killing, manmade famine, Gulag)

2

10,000,000

Soviet Bloc: late Stalinism, 1950-53; post-Stalinism, to 1987 (mostly Gulag)

3

4,000,000

Ethiopia, 1962-92: Communists, artificial hunger, genocides

4

3,800,000

Zaire (Congo-Kinshasa): 1967-68; 1977-78; 1992-95; 1998-present

5

2,800,000

Korean war, 1950-53

6

1,900,000

Sudan, 1955-72; 1983-2006 (civil wars, genocides)

7

1,870,000

Cambodia: Khmer Rouge 1975-79; civil war 1978-91

8

1,800,000

Vietnam War, 1954-75

9

1,800,000

Afghanistan: Soviet and internecine killings, Taliban 1980-2001

10

1,250,000

West Pakistan massacres in East Pakistan (Bangladesh 1971)

11

1,100,000

Nigeria, 1966-79 (Biafra); 1993-present

12

1,100,000

Mozambique, 1964-70 (30,000) + after retreat of Portugal 1976-92

13

1,000,000

Iran-Iraq-War, 1980-88

14

900,000

Rwanda genocide, 1994

15

875,000

Algeria: against France 1954-62 (675,000); between Islamists and the government 1991-2006 (200,000)

16

850,000

Uganda, 1971-79; 1981-85; 1994-present

17

650,000

Indonesia: Marxists 1965-66 (450,000); East Timor, Papua, Aceh etc, 1969-present (200,000)

18

580,000

Angola: war against Portugal 1961-72 (80,000); after Portugal's retreat (1972-2002)

19

500,000

Brazil against its Indians, up to 1999

20

430,000

Vietnam, after the war ended in 1975 (own people; boat refugees)

21

400,000

Indochina: against France, 1945-54

22

400,000

Burundi, 1959-present (Tutsi/Hutu)

23

400,000

Somalia, 1991-present

24

400,000

North Korea up to 2006 (own people)

25

300,000

Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, 1980s-1990s

26

300,000

Iraq, 1970-2003 (Saddam against minorities)

27

240,000

Columbia, 1946-58; 1964-present

28

200,000

Yugoslavia, Tito regime, 1944-80

29

200,000

Guatemala, 1960-96

30

190,000

Laos, 1975-90

31

175,000

Serbia against Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, 1991-1999

32

150,000

Romania, 1949-99 (own people)

33

150,000

Liberia, 1989-97

34

140,000

Russia against Chechnya, 1994-present

35

150,000

Lebanon civil war, 1975-90

36

140,000

Kuwait War, 1990-91

37

130,000

Philippines: 1946-54 (10,000); 1972-present (120,000)

38

130,000

Burma/Myanmar, 1948-present

39

100,000

North Yemen, 1962-70

40

100,000

Sierra Leone, 1991-present

41

100,000

Albania, 1945-91 (own people)

42

80,000

Iran, 1978-79 (revolution)

43

75,000

Iraq, 2003-present (domestic)

44

75,000

El Salvador, 1975-92

45

70,000

Eritrea against Ethiopia, 1998-2000

46

68,000

Sri Lanka, 1997-present

47

60,000

Zimbabwe, 1966-79; 1980-present

48

60,000

Nicaragua, 1972-91 (Marxists/natives etc,)

49

51,000

Arab-Israeli conflict 1950-present

50

50,000

North Vietnam, 1954-75 (own people)

51

50,000

Tajikistan, 1992-96 (secularists against Islamists)

52

50,000

Equatorial Guinea, 1969-79

53

50,000

Peru, 1980-2000

54

50,000

Guinea, 1958-84

55

40,000

Chad, 1982-90

56

30,000

Bulgaria, 1948-89 (own people)

57

30,000

Rhodesia, 1972-79

58

30,000

Argentina, 1976-83 (own people)

59

27,000

Hungary, 1948-89 (own people)

60

26,000

Kashmir independence, 1989-present

61

25,000

Jordan government vs. Palestinians, 1970-71 (Black September)

62

22,000

Poland, 1948-89 (own people)

63

20,000

Syria, 1982 (against Islamists in Hama)

64

20,000

Chinese-Vietnamese war, 1979

65

19,000

Morocco: war against France, 1953-56 (3,000) and in Western Sahara, 1975-present (16,000)

66

18,000

Congo Republic, 1997-99

67

10,000

South Yemen, 1986 (civil war)

*All figures rounded. Sources: Brzezinski, Z., Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-first Century, 1993; Courtois, S., Le Livre Noir du Communism, 1997; Heinsohn, G., Lexikon der Völkermorde, 1999, 2nd ed.; Heinsohn, G., Söhne und Weltmacht, 2006, 8th ed.; Rummel. R., Death by Government, 1994; Small, M. and Singer, J.D., Resort to Arms: International and Civil Wars 1816-1980, 1982; White, M., "Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century," 2003.

 

___________

 

 

Incredibly, since 1950, about 85,000,000 people have been killed in bloody conflicts around the world. And that doesn't even include World War I and World War II.

 

I have often said that more people have probably been killed, by the hand of man, in the last 200 years, than the previous 2,000,000 years of human existence. It turns out, as dramatized in the film The Rise of Man, on the Discovery Channel, that cavemen, who lived during the 2,000,000 years before the advent of "civilization," were actually quite nice to one another. As hunter gatherers, there was no real reason to kill. Would you kill your neighbor just to steal a couple of peanuts? Why bother? Common sense told them to be good, and to help one another out, and they did.

 

In most instances, we demonstrate a certain sense of arrogance when we kill one another, an excessive sense of pride, and an extreme confidence in the validity of our convictions. When we kill, it is as if we cry out, for the world to hear, "We are right, and you will pay with your lives for the inadequacies of your beliefs." It is sheer arrogance to kill one another so casually, even in the name of our deeply held beliefs. Look at it this way-if we were indeed created by God in His image, then when we kill one another, aren't we, in effect, spitting at God's face?

 

To my mind, for what it's worth, there are only two reasons to kill: either someone is coming at you with an ax, or he's coming at your buddy with an ax. That's it; self-defense and the defense of others. No other reason to kill: not for our religion, not for our deeply held beliefs, not for politics, not for geopolitical considerations, not for the accumulation of wealth, not because we resent how someone thinks, or how he looks, or what he feels about us. Not for nothing. No other reason to kill.

 

Weapon systems are so advanced nowadays, that we would soon be able to kill one another in such magnitude, that previous death tolls would pale by comparison. Some of the bombs we have today are hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. We could literally wipe ourselves off the face of the earth.

 

Countries that are beginning to compete for scarce resources, like oil or fresh drinking water, could find themselves embroiled in a whole host of new conflicts, in the years to come. A global economy is a competitive economy, in which poor nations could easily find themselves on the losing end of the stick. But unlike previous times in history, when mostly everyone was poor, now there will be some who enjoy the prosperity that comes with economic growth, while a great many will be left behind, only to bear witness to their sense of deprivation and loss, and to their desperate struggle to survive.

 

The global economy offers promise for the future, but some pitfalls as well, as is often the case with new developments. The trick will be to sustain economic growth for ourselves, while allowing everyone on earth a place at the table, a stake in his or her future. Yes we will compete with one another, but we will invest in one another, as well. Yes we will work to augment our prosperity, but we will work for the prosperity of others, as well. Yes we will compete for scarce resources, but we will challenge one another to protect the environment, as well. Yes we will hold on to our deeply held beliefs, but we will find ways to talk to one another with common sense and with a sense of personal dignity, as well.

 

The secret to world peace, in contrast to the bloody history of the past, is not a secret at all. We have to find a way to connect, and to connect so cohesively, that we come to depend on one another. As such, it will be in our mutual best interest to keep the peace. By helping others, we help ourselves. Granted, it is a tall order, but it is probably the only way. Connect ideologically. Connect economically. Inspire in each other a sense of hope. And let the hope sustain the peace throughout the generations.

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