The flare-up in Gaza and the continued disaster in Iraq show how bad governments are at winning the peace. I firmly believe that we wouldn’t see screaming settlers in Gaza and screaming insurgents in Iraq if the following steps of conflict resolution were abided by:
1. Agree to talk with respect to the other side.
2. Accept that there is perceived injustice on both sides.
3. Recognize the value of forgiveness–ask for it and give it.
4. Use emotional intelligence–that is, understand your own emotions, have empathy with the emotions of the other side, and establish a real relationship. (If this point sounds touchy-feely, consider that Robert S. MacNamara has said that the chief reason Vietnam was lost in retrospect was that we knew almost nothing about who our opponent was.)
5. Don’t be belligerent in your approach to negotiation.
6. Recognize that other people’s values may be different from yours without assuming that they are wrong.
7. Don’t make the other person wrong or cause them to lose face.
8. Don’t bring ideology into the discussion.
9. Recognize that fear is a factor on both sides.
If you hate Bush as Bush hates militant islam, try a change of awareness. Take any cause or individual you feel deep fear, anger, or hatred toward, and instead of nurturing your antagonism, try applying even one of the above points, if just internally. In fact, applying them internally is the most important step, since the war in your own awareness is the root of all external conflict.
There is enormous wisdom in the aphorism, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
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