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Selling a Vision of Hope: A Refreshing Alternative to Armageddon

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An Ideology of Common Sense E-mail
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Written by Nissim Dahan   

An Ideology of Common Sense is a new way of thinking and a new way of talking to one another, a new framework for rational discourse, based on the proposition that even in our fractured world there exists a core set of principles which are universal in their scope, and which have universal appeal. Common sense may be the only gift we were given to bring order to our lives. In our fractured world, common sense is the common denominator!


If the world is beginning to come together technologically and economically, shouldn't we at least try to bring the world together ideologically? Try to imagine what could happen for the betterment of man if Common Sense could somehow become Ideology. Since the dawn of human civilization, there have been scores of religious, political, social, and economic ideologies which ended up on the ash heap of bad ideas. The trouble is that the bloody conflicts over bad ideas have left behind millions of corpses in their wake.


As a species, can we afford to continue believing in what we want to believe, or should we begin to believe in what makes sense? Instead of jumping to false belief and then rationalizing why we're right, why not use rationality in the first place, to arrive at what is worth believing in? It could well be argued that Common Sense must be conferred ideological status because doing so may well be the only sensible way of bringing a semblance of order to this fragile and often volatile world.


We find ourselves trapped in a room that is so full of B.S. that we only have about two inches of air left near the ceiling. Isn't it high time to cut through all the nonsense, to get back to core truths, to find common ground, and to bridge the ideological divide? By the way, just for the heck of it, try defining "common sense" in one sentence. Not that easy is it? What if our survival as a species depended on it?


For me, common sense is the intuitive wisdom to conform our thoughts and actions to universally shared truths and values. Don't blow a circuit; it's not all that complicated. The intuitive wisdom is the wisdom that comes from within. Thoughts and actions; because it's not enough to think straight, you have to act on what you know to be true. The intuitive wisdom to conform our thoughts and actions to universally shared truths and values. Truths are the realities we perceive. Values are the realities we aspire to. And why are these truths and values universal? Certain truths and values are so logical, so rational, and so self-evident, that they are universally perceived as true, and therefore, universally accepted.


Let me suggest three such universal truths, the big three, so to speak: The Golden Rule, The Golden Mean, and The Greatest Good. I call these the 3-G's for short. The Golden Rule: treat others as you would have them treat you, is found in every religion on earth. Why? Because it makes sense, that's why. The Golden Mean: Aristotle's idea that the truth is usually to be found somewhere in the middle between two extremes. The Greatest Good: Jeremy Bentham's prescription to do what brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number.


Now bear with me one moment. What if The Golden Rule would have us treat each other well by Investing in one another? What if The Golden Mean would have us think straight by using common sense as our Ideology? And what if The Greatest Good would have us maximize justice by organizing ourselves around a vision of Hope? Put it all together and the formula for world peace is not all that complicated. As Thomas Jefferson might have said: We find this truth to be self-evident; Ideology plus Investment equals Hope, and with hope, all things are possible, even the impossible dream of peace.

...even in our fractured world there exists a core set of principles which are universal in their scope, and which have universal appeal.
Selling a Vision of Hope

When the President of the United States speaks, he usually stands at a podium that has the Presidential Seal affixed to it. The Seal of the President of the United States features the American Eagle holding two things with her talons: a cluster of arrows and an olive branch. The message is clear - while America is prepared to wage war whenever necessary, she remains eager to make peace whenever possible.


As a nation, we have plenty of arrows out there, but not much of an olive branch, and yet we may well need both to win the war against ideological extremism. In today's globalized world, an olive branch means nothing less than Selling 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 more is needed, and nothing less will suffice.


Our dream is to start a grass roots movement to sell a Vision of Hope in our time. Stranger things have happened. Granted, all this may seem a bit naive at first glance. But don't you think that not doing anything, and hoping things will work out, may be even more naive? Everything of great import begins with a vision. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, and suddenly the dream of civil rights was no longer just a dream. Start with a big vision, give it some substance on the ground, and soon enough the reality will become as big as the vision itself.


Such is the dynamic of change in the world, and such is the prescription for change in the Middle East. It is high time to think out of the box that is us - to get over ourselves and beyond our differences. This may well be the time, before time runs out, to dream the impossible and to make the impossible come true.

Comments (3)Add Comment
written by loulou, October 21, 2007
In the vein of 'common sense' there are two processes that I believe help any situation to evolve positively. The first is to let budding ideas start and try to get a foothold. If you keep your options open and give ideas a try, even when they don't seem like the best, some will flourish. The second process is to keep one's eye out for those little budding successes, find out what went right, and build on it.

Take a school system, let the teachers have some 'wiggle room' and don't restrict their self direction. Search out the classes that show the most improvement, copy and improve on the innovation and help it spread. Nurture the freedom of action, and build on what succeeds. Nothing is as infectious as success, and no compliment greater than imitation.

In the middle east, let's look for little bright spots and build on them. Let's look for little business successes that marry Arab and Jewish cooperation and learn how to duplicate them and 'franchise' the operation like a fast food chain. Let's find the school program that succeeds in creating meaningful mutual action and caring, and multiply it a thousand fold.

Seed money could be given, maybe only a thousand dollars per venture, to develop joint Arab Israeli social or small business projects. Do it five hundred times over, and use another five hundred thousand to follow and identify the most successful projects. That million dollars will generate ten good ideas that can be 'franchised'. If only one of the ten turns out to be a 'killer ap' the million will be well spent.

David Weis
Budding Ideas
written by Nissim Dahan, October 25, 2007
Thanks for your comments, David

I think you make some excellent points. An Ideology of Common Sense does not predict what will work and what will not. It just points you in the right direction, and leaves you there to find your own way. So with regard to the Middle East, common sense would probably tell you to invest, but may leave you guessing as to which investments would be most successful. Therefore, as you suggest, we may choose the following approach: invest in a number of relatively small projects, follow the progress of each, and invest further in those projects which show some promise.

The good thing about Selling a Vision of Hope is that it can work on many levels, and it will require the participation of many people to make anything happen. So a small project, or a major project, could each fall under the umbrella of a Vision of Hope. And any project worth considering will require the contribution of many experts and volunteers. Therefore, Selling a Vision of Hope could end up casting a wide net, to include a wide variety of projects and people.

Such a variety will enhance the prospects for success, as we begin to focus on those special projects, and those unique people, who are in the best position to capture the public imagination. Like you say, as part of the process, there will be a falling out of some of the projects, and some of the people, but only in this way will we come to a realization of what can actually work to make a difference on the ground.
The Sword of Damocles
written by thepoetryman, July 26, 2009
The demoralizing phantom holding the cudgel can strike us
Like a rapist would, or screech like an injured swine,
Or reflect our disgraced and beaten will, as the ghouls have.
The vapors cannot cleave from our hearts our children’s dawn
Or their passion tendered willingly as falling rain from heaven,
Like Gibran’s silver thread’s fetching them laughter in front of misery.

They are the heirs, the warriors to lift Damocles’ blade from the sky and
Mightily point it as proof they’ll not breathe another minute next to fear.
They will evermore admonish the failing ghosts of this day’s shadow
And fend off the hounds of cruelty with the strength they’ve resurrected.
There will be no reason to shrink from this; their destiny; they’ve seen
Her floating over their heads, grace and harmony hanging by a thread.

© 2009 mrp/thepoetryman
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