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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.

In the News
Migrants seek new routes into Balkans after formal borders sealed

A refugee hugs a boy next to a border fence at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni
By Fedja Grulovic IDOMENI, Greece (Reuters) - After weeks stranded at a closed border in northern Greece, migrants and refugees are seeking out new, irregular routes to get into Macedonia, clambering through forests and over hills under the cover of darkness. As dusk fell on Saturday evening, a Reuters witness saw a group of up to 70 people crossing into Macedonia from Greece, at a point where there is no razor wire fence between the two countries. It was roughly a 20 km (12 mile), or four hour walk from Idomeni, a sprawling tent city hosting thousands of refugees and migrants stranded by a cascade of border shutdowns throughout the Balkans in February.

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Selling a Vision of Hope 101: An Introduction E-mail
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Written by Nissim Dahan   

What a wondrous world we live in. We look all around us and there is so much beauty to behold. And yet, there are grave problems as well, problems which are beginning to threaten our very existence on this good earth. What are the threats we face in our time? Granted, we may be generalizing somewhat, but it seems that the threats we face fall into three general categories: the threats to our Economy, the threats to the Environment, and the threats posed by ideological Extremism. We can refer to these types of threats-the Economy, the Environment, and Extremism-as the 3-E's, for short.

 

Even to the cursory observer, it quickly becomes evident that the 3-E's are inter-related and inter-connected. They are a package deal of sorts. They all feed upon one another, and into one another, in countless ways. For example, can we really hope to grow our Economy in the long run, if we continue to allow Environmental degradation to undermine it, or if we allow Extremism to block the international transactions that have to take place to sustain a global Economy? Additionally, can we really hope to protect the Environment, if our Economy continues to weaken, or if we continue to allow Extremism to block the global cooperation that is needed to protect the global Environment? And finally, can we really hope to neutralize the hold of Extremist thinking if we continue to allow huge swaths of humanity to remain poor and vulnerable to the allure of Extremism, or if we allow Environmental degradation to stoke the fires of Extremism, as with water or food shortages and the like?

 

Since the main threats we face are so related to one another, three notions come to mind: one, we may not be able to solve one without solving the other two; two, a solution may be possible which solves all three in one shot; and three, by solving all three in one shot, we may actually be able to turbo-charge the solution to each one individually. We call that solution Selling a Vision of Hope, which has five parts to it, like the five fingers of your hand. In a very real sense, we could say that the answer to world peace, and to our survival as a species for that matter, lies in the palm of our hand:

 

The thumb is for Ideology: We will use a new ideological framework, what we call An Ideology of Common Sense, to speak to one another with common sense and with a sense of personal dignity. If globalization is already making the world smaller technologically and economically, doesn't it make sense for us to become "smaller" ideologically as well? Instead of believing what we want to believe, isn't it time to start believing 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? In a more perfect world, common sense, the collective wisdom born of shared experience, will inspire our thinking and inform our speech. In our fractured world, common sense is the common denominator.

 

The index finger is for Investment: We will invest in one another under the banner, "We stand ready to invest in you, if you are ready to invest in yourselves." We will invest in projects which create jobs, jobs which are geared toward environmental protection. Such good paying jobs, in places like the West Bank, could help in countless ways: to promote environmental protection by producing green technology products, to neutralize extremist thinking, to bridge the ideological divide, to open up new markets for goods and services, to generate new profits, to bridge the gap between rich and poor, to convert oil profits into green profits, to help diversify strictly oil economies, to energize economic growth both here and abroad, to restore Arab pride, and to condition people for the possibility of peace, and so forth, and so on. In effect, in these difficult times of economic upheaval, we must build engines for economic growth; we can boost our own economy by venturing forth into new economic frontiers, such as green technology, and by opening up new markets for our goods and services in places like Africa and the Middle East, thus creating good paying jobs both here and abroad. By investing in others, we will be investing in ourselves, and revitalizing the best version of who we are as a people.

 

The middle finger is for Hope: We will use An Ideology of Common Sense along with some well placed Investment Dollars to sell people on 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. Albert 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: As we begin to Sell a Vision of Hope, it becomes incumbent on us 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 program to Empower Women, a Cultural Exchange, a Student Exchange, an expanded version of the Peace Corps, a Media Campaign, and a series of International Conferences on the Environment, Economy, Religion, and Education. Take, for example, the program to Empower Women by financing female entrepreneurs and promoting women's rights. Empower Muslim and Arab women 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 the forces of ideological extremism, and we do, then we will fight, and fight hard, but we will also position the fight within a Vision of Hope. We will 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, for example, a "war against terror." We are fighting a war to realize a Vision of Hope. There's a big difference, a difference that could make all the difference in the world. We're not fighting simply to "protect the environment." We are fighting, quite literally, for our lives. In the final analysis, the ideological extremists will not be able to capture the public's imagination, once people begin to imagine a better life for themselves.

 

Selling a Vision of Hope will give us the conceptual framework we need to put together all the pieces of a possible solution to our most intractable problems, and to sell it to the man on the street. A solution which combines the Economy, the Environment, and Extremism, as a package, is likely to work because it is complete and all-encompassing. A solution for one of the three issues will inspire, underpin, and turbo-charge a solution for the other two. We will not be working in a vacuum, or in isolation. We will bring to the fore all that is needed to solve all of our problems, or at least the ones that pose the greatest challenges to our survival, and to our wellbeing.

 

So how does this pipe dream even begin to make a difference? We can begin with a single, solitary project, a project which resonates with hope, and which says to the world that a Vision of Hope could be made real if people simply choose to make it so. We can start with a simple program to provide internet based courses on the environment, to the brightest Muslim, Jewish, and Christian students in the region. We will then expand the program to include face-to-face lab work, along with summer camp programs focused on solving the environmental challenges in the region and beyond. Then we will proceed to build a state-of-the-art research facility on the environment in the West Bank. The research facility will partner with local entrepreneurs to launch new products and technologies which protect the environment, and which create good paying jobs and profits for a new Palestine. Saudi financing would be the icing on the cake and would say to the world that oil profits are being used to generate green profits, and that good paying green jobs are being used to neutralize the hold of extremist thinking.

 

Such a project, if successful, could attract worldwide attention, and could generate some serious investment dollars to fund more such projects, throughout the region, and around the world, for more such jobs, for more protection of the environment, for more economic growth, and for more neutralizing of extremism. Business leaders, and government officials alike, could be swayed by the allure of good publicity, good PR, and common sense, to finance and promote such projects throughout the developing world. A simple project of this sort could well become the impetus for a movement for change.

 

So how do we begin to make the dream come true? We start with a vision, a big Vision of Hope. We give that vision some substance on the ground. And soon enough, the reality on the ground will grow to fill up the space created by the vision. Such is the dynamic of change in the world, and such is the prescription for change in the Middle East.

 

We find our nation's fabric somewhat tattered and frayed at the edges. It is time to pick up the pieces and weave them together in a new pattern, one that is more reminiscent of our founding principles and highest ideals. We will use the dire circumstances of our time to remake ourselves in a new light, a light that will shine as a beacon of hope, for all to see and for all to follow.

 

Some of you may naturally come to feel that some of these ideas may be a bit over the top, to say the least. But as we are fond of saying: "This may well be the time, before time runs out, to dream the impossible, and to make the impossible come true."

 

So welcome to our website. You are welcome to register and to comment wherever you wish. Your comments are very important to us. What you have to say is more important than what we have to say. We already know what we have to say, but you bring something new to the table. And if you know of someone we should talk to, someone who could help us to make something happen along these lines, then by all means, please let us know. Thank you all for your kind consideration.

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