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Peace Roadmap

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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Written by Nissim Dahan   

You don?t have to be a prophet to realize that the world is moving, at an ever accelerating rate of speed, toward some sort of ultimate conclusion. We?ve been around as a species for some 2,000,000 years, and for 99% of that time we?ve used our God-given common sense to survive. But in the last two hundred years, from the Industrial Revolution to the recent phenomenon of globalization, we find ourselves hurtling briskly toward an existential culmination of world events. So I ask you, which way will we go as a species?


With the looming crisis between the Western world and the Muslim world, and with so many other crises brewing, like global warming and nuclear proliferation to name a few, things aren?t looking quite as rosy as they should. And yet, we have to believe that we can still play a part to make things better - that our fate is not as yet sealed, or written in stone. So what can we do, you and I, to move the world in a slightly different direction - one that points to the possibility of peace?


Albert Einstein came up with E=mc2. Thankfully, the formula for success in the Middle East is a lot simpler, Ideology plus Investment equals Hope. We need nothing less than a new ideological framework along with some well placed investment dollars to generate a sense of hope, and with hope all things are possible, even the impossible dream of peace.


Use An Ideology of Common Sense along with Economic Incentives 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. Speak to one another with common sense, and with a sense of personal dignity. Put some serious money on the table, and give everyone on earth a place at the table, a stake in his or her future. Make the "global economy" truly global. Use the motto:

We stand ready to invest in you, if you are ready to invest in yourselves.
Selling a Vision of Hope

Invest in projects which resonate with hope, which create jobs, which protect the environment, and which allow people to become who they want to become, even if they want to become different from you. Create facts on the ground which speak louder than words. Marginalize the extremists on all sides by putting them in the uncomfortable and untenable position of holding their people back from a better life. 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 win the war against ideological extremism?


And when the need arises, fight on the ground, and fight hard, but position the fight within a more optimistic context, one that points to the possibility of peace, and one that inspires people both here and abroad, including moderate Muslims, to sustain the fight until the fight is won. Use a Vision of Hope to raise the fight on the ground to a higher moral plain and to give the fight a moral clarity of purpose.

An Ideology of Common Sense, which will underpin the public debate, 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 exits 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! 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?

Just for the heck of it, try defining "common sense" in one sentence. Not that easy, is it? We use it every day of the week, but what exactly 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:

  • 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.
  • "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 fundamental, so logical, and so self-evident, that they are universally perceived as true and universally accepted.


Three examples of universal values are: The Golden Mean, The Golden Rule, and The Greatest Good. I call these the 3-G?s:

  • The Golden Mean, Aristotle?s idea that "The Truth is usually to be found somewhere between two extremes," teaches us how to think, and tells us that truth is not an extremist position.
  • The Golden Rule, "Treat others as you would have them treat you," which is written into every major religion on earth, teaches us how to behave with one another.
  • The Greatest Good, Jeremy Bentham?s idea of Utilitarianism, "Do what brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number," teaches us how to organize ourselves to maximize justice.
We can easily see how these three principles: The Golden Mean, The Golden Rule, and The Greatest Good all point toward the idea of Selling a Vision of Hope:
  • The Golden Mean tells us to moderate our views, and to think with common sense. Common sense will be our Ideology.
  • The Golden Rule tells us to treat each other well, by Investing in one another.
  • The Greatest Good tells us to maximize justice by organizing ourselves around a Vision of Hope.
Putting it all together: Ideology + Investment = Hope!

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


And notice that the Eagle points her head in the direction of the olive branch - the universal symbol of peace - since the time that Noah, ever in search of dry land, let a dove fly away, and she returned holding an olive branch with her beak. There is no question that America has a fight on her hands. The enemy is fiercely determined and is emboldened by ideological conviction. Whether in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or some other place where the need arises, we will have no choice but to fight.


The trick, however, will be to sustain and win the fight using both the "arrows" and the "olive branch," at the same time, and in equal measure. In order to sustain our resolve, we have no choice but to inspire our own people, and the people abroad who may choose to partner with us, including moderate Muslims, to rise to the challenge. We can use a Vision of Hope as part of our strategic arsenal 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 less will suffice and nothing more is needed. 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 time to think out of the box that is us - to get over ourselves and beyond our differences. It is time, before time runs out, to dream the impossible and to make the impossible come true.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Well said...
written by Rachel, July 11, 2007
Your ideas are refreshing and hopeful...and they make sense! We ought to continue to spread this inspiring vision.
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