The author lives in Santa Barbara.
I started to learn to read in 1948. That was the year that the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” began. I have been hearing or reading about “peace initiatives” for three-quarters of a century.
Two weeks ago, the killing part of the “peace process” began again.
Each side consistently comes up with the same brilliant and novel strategy for peace: to yell at each other, “You started it!”
I always wondered why so much of our foreign aid was given to Israel and so little to Palestinians. Why can’t the Palestinians be my friends as well as the Israelis? I consider myself a friend to both. Friends don’t let friends kill each other.
The truest religious leaders teach people to have reverence for all people, not to separate themselves from others. The truest political leaders lead people to band with all citizens, not just those in their party. This is not happening in the Middle East nor here in the U.S.
Albert Einstein gives us a clue as to why this situation exists: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Could it be that global and local leaders are not up to the task?
On another front, the U.S. is leaving a war in Afghanistan that lasted 20 years. We left Vietnam after a war of 14 years. How would you rate our leadership in both wars: Were we very successful, somewhat successful, unsuccessful, or very unsuccessful?
As you may be able to guess, I believe our leaders have been singularly unsuccessful. Oh, I forgot Korea. There, the best we could do was split the country in half because of the stalemate. Vietnam is now a socialist one-party republic. It is too early to judge what will happen in Afghanistan.
My frustration moves me to think that the solution to global and national issues is for leaders to measure up to the goals of the common people. Our strategy of “We’ve got to do something!” is not a good plan, or even a plan.
I’m not condemning those leaders. They did the best they could, but you probably already know how to define the act of doing the same thing over and over again — and expecting a different result! You also may remember Einstein’s quote, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
So what’s the solution? Here is a new idea for peace, locally and globally. Peace begins with the common people. What are the things that common people — 95% of us — want? I want to do good work, to provide for my family, to give my children and their children the chance to do the same thing. I want to do it in relative safety and to enjoy the process. I want all parents and children in the world to have this. Don’t you?
That’s the starting point for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The 95% of the common people should rise up and tell Abbas and Netanyahu: “We want you to commit to both peoples — Palestinians and Israelis. Be committed to security, homes, and work for both peoples equally, so that their children and ours can have a future different from what you’ve created for the past three-quarters of a century. We want to know your plan to guarantee it for all. If you can’t do this, we will choose somebody else who can.”
By the way, what if the common, good people of the United States did the same thing? What if we had the courage to shed the “Democrat” or “Republican” turtle shells we carry around on our backs and ask anybody who runs for office to be committed to the common goals of the 95% of us listed above? Leaders talk about what is “in the American interest.” That is what this American is interested in.
Maybe your party loyalty is stronger than your commitment to the future of our children. That’s a dumb thing for me to say, but isn’t that how we are acting?
Let’s begin by straightening out our own thinking first, before we tell Israelis, Palestinians, Afghans, Vietnamese and Koreans what to do.