Originally posted here on Oct. 19, 2015.
I am starting to see very clearly that there are those people who have the moral and emotional intelligence to understand two sides of a conflict, two enemies at once, and there are those who need to demonize someone in every situation. There are those who can empathize with their own community and with another, and there are those who at every turn look to demonize one group and whitewash their own. These are two camps of humanity, one with an evolved mind, and one with a primitive mind. Educational levels and graduate degrees having nothing to do with these two camps.
I am horrified by the mob mentality, I am saddened by many people I have helped and defended, not from my own community, who the first chance they get, join virtual lynch mobs.
The fact is that it is easy to …
Here is an excerpt from a recent Huffington Post article I wrote. You can read the full article here.
I am not impressed anymore by the emotional bonding and euphoria created by revolutionary crowds. Finished, done, my enthusiasm squashed after years of promising rallies in central squares whose intent and hopes smashed headlong into reality.
The crowd is not to be trusted. It only knows enthusiasm, not direction, not vision, not a moral compass. We went as civilizations from one kind of crowd delirium to a better one only by building solid, unbreakable emotional and legal bonds between every citizen, no matter how strange or foreign. Bonds that were so strong that most of us now get physically sick just imagining a festival of sadism in the heart of civilized London.
Political Realism Needs to Discover Nonviolent Social Change
When I start to hear in forums around Washington in the last few months that the people of Syria might have been better off without a violent revolution then we are witnessing a slow learning curve of the political realists. From Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria they are beginning to see the absurdity of embracing guns that give rise to everything they fear the most from the Middle East. The horror of the present makes the courageous crowds in Syria of 2011 something of a wondrous miracle, a proud pluralistic mass movement of social change, without the insanity of ideological extremism.
The lesson is simple. We activists must be much more prepared to massively support every nonviolent turn in social history across the world, but we also must be accompanied by policy makers who at the very least stay out of the …
Nonviolence and Violence, the Shocking Difference
For decades, there was hardly any opening in this strong police state to train and plan for creative and steadfast nonviolent social change. Some of us as peace activists did our best to introduce even the mildest ideas of social change at great personal risk to our Syrian friends. For over ten years I had been working steadily in Syria with Syrian partners on interfaith diplomacy and peacebuilding. We built bridges between both average people and between influential people across the spectrum from Alewite, Sunni, Shiite, Catholic, Protestant, and atheist. We engaged in what nonviolence practitioners refer to as exercises in solidarity.
We built a cadre of students in conflict resolution from young to old, inside and outside the government. We did this work with the grudging permission of the regime, through clever strategies of diplomacy. We also enjoyed the friendship of some Western …
Part I: The Failure of the Military Option
It may seem odd to speak of nonviolence in the same sentence as Syria, one of the bloodiest and most tragic destructions of a state and a culture in contemporary history. But the fact is that we are inching closer to a mainstream and politically realist understanding of nonviolence as a legitimate course of political change. This is very significant, because if in fact the major powers are beginning to acknowledge the futility of armed conflict, at least in places of a geopolitical standoff, such as Syria, then we can expect more Western support may to nonviolent resisters in the future. This in turn may inch the globe a bit closer to a nonviolent system of social change.
Why has the military option become increasingly futile in the Syrian case? Because Russia and Iran will not back down in their support of …
A Guatemalan court on Friday found former dictator Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country’s 36-year civil war.
He was sentenced to 50 years in prison on the genocide charge and 30 years for crimes against humanity. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.
Rios Montt, 86, took power after a coup in 1982, and is accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers. He entered the court on Friday to boos and cries of “Justicia!” or justice.
Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as …
This podcast works off of important analysis by Kevin Avruch on the critical importance of evolution and dynamism in cultural self-definition. I add to this that a dynamic approach to evolving identities, both personal, cultural and civilizational, are essential in creating a less violent world. Here is why. Click here and please comment Evolving Civilization…