To the Media
With all the conflicts going on these days, of course it's natural for journalists to cover every gory aspect of them. I get that. The thing is, that you're repeating the same old story of blame and accusation that we've heard all our lives, and it didn't begin in modern times. War has taken place in various locations of the world through some 3,000 years; therefore, humanity has been killing and grieving for 3,000 years. We are grieving today. Wars will not stop until the will of powerful men and women want them to stop.
The story you're neglecting is the survival of global humanity despite the futile savagery with which you continually fill your screens and pages. You keep beating the drums and fanning the flames as you continue to show primarily the horrors of these never-ending wars.
You fill the hearts and minds of your viewers and readers with only the seemingly futile savagery of it all; they, in turn, begin to label and blame those whom they feel responsible, not realizing that each side is strategizing toward their own intended gains; in this way you manipulate your audience, inadvertently, or not. People certainly don't see all that both sides are doing to the other, though we think we do; and by judging what we think we see through media coverage, we allow you, the media, to feed our polarized hatred which, in turn, your audience tends to pass down through the generations.
This sort of one-sided, primarily violence coverage, neglects the better story - how our global humanity survives through the years, despite the savagery. You don't show kindnesses of both sides toward the other, and you don't typically show much of unified movements such as Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies. You have an obligation to present all aspects of this human story.
Let's look at the overview, unchanging down through the generations. In a nutshell, self-interested governments such as the US, Iran and Qatar to mention only a few, pour funds into warring parties, profiting from the war machines as they fan the flames, pretending to try and bring peace. Political leaders keep their conflicts going, as we dance to their tune of Will they agree? Won't they? They broke the agreement, and so on, and you beat the drums as though this is a new event; it doesn't change. Why not? Because achieving peace would be counter to the hidden agendas of the war leaders.
Do we think these leaders are less than intelligent? That, like children, they cannot figure out a solution to their conflicts? They need negotiators and mediators to help them form a compromise? Think about it; how did they gain power in such a conflicting world? How are they holding on to it? Is their savagery just an accidental byproduct? Do we actually believe that, if they really wanted to resolve conflicts they would not find a way at lightning speed?
Maybe we are like children, who don't see them realistically as bright, cunning strategists who are determined to fulfill an agenda, which they keep only among themselves. Apparently, they have no currency in resolving the issues, except by annihilating the other and taking their lands.
Here's the story you are neglecting: We are in the 21st century, in the midst of massive social change. Believe it or not, parents and other caring individuals do have power against self-serving aggression, and you can proportionately cover proactive people such as the Israelis who went to Palestine to comfort the father of a teenager who had been murdered in Israel. Their kind gesture won't bring the boy back, of course; it won't change history. What it can do is change the course of history today, and that should be our focus. Bravo to those courageous Israelis who visited, and the gracious response of the grieving family.
Seeing this, I feel hopeful and more convinced than ever that the people must solve the world's problems; politicians and profiteers have no currency in resolution. That might be worth covering.
The skills we practice and teach across the globe can ripple out from each location until they intermingle and embrace; that is an ongoing story you can cover. In fairness some, such as CNN's Chris Cuomo and Anderson Cooper, are covering more of the human side; apparently, CNN has committed to covering a higher proportion of the glimmers of hope we see than, perhaps, they would have in the past. They and others can always do more.
Family and Community
My family and community in the United States, yours in Paris, Nigeria, China, wherever. Nearly all of us across the globe do belong to a family and community.
We, who are not under immediate siege, are also powerful. We have the currency to withhold funds from warring factions, and to create a more compassionate global family. Why is it in the interest of our global humanity to find an alternate resolution so as to restore more emphasis on our togetherness than on savagery? For the children.
Yasmine Calehr, (3:32) a grandmother was waiting for the bodies to arrive in Holland; maybe her two dead grandsons would be on the planes that were landing. While she waited, this wise woman said, "The whole world is grieving; all of global humanity is grieving about some conflict or other. It's time for us to remember our humanity and that of others, no matter where they live. We are a global community, in which we people must come together."
When children ask, Why do those men hurt little children? and similar questions, what do we tell them? What skills for resolving conflict, and what hope do we give them, that the world will be better when they grow up?
We sow seeds in the garden, and we get crops; if we don't nurture them, we get weeds or even snakes. With the crop of children in Gaza, Israel and elsewhere today, when they talk of the horrors they see and the loved ones obliterated, we don't see tears; we see anger. We are allowing the creation of another generation of vicious terrorists and I don't think we decent people want to do that - to us or to them - and we certainly don't want to do it at home.
When you and I who are not directly in the line of fire continually look at the horrors, feeling impotent at ending them and we wring our hands, shouting, we are doing nothing to stop it; we are letting those images control our thoughts, rather than seeing what we can do to change the culture in our sphere of influence, so as to begin creating a more harmonious world for generations of children. When we begin to look more at the good that we are doing to change the climate for global humanity to again begin to flourish than the evil others commit, we will know we are working effectively to leave a better legacy.
How do we begin changing the culture so that we can teach our children to resolve conflict peacefully?
We can begin with our communication skills, and the most intimate of these is in our self-talk. Viewing images of slaughter and destruction, we may tend to think (or even to say out loud), "Those dirty killers. We saw this sentiment spread, even to Paris, where entire communities of innocent Jews were terrorized. By labeling others we objectify entire ethnic groups, when both sides in conflict are actually accountable. And, don't forget, others are labeling us in the United States as well - "those dirty American war-mongers," etc. By objectifying others, we teach our children to do the same, so the hatred is perpetuated.
When we see the horrifying images on the news, we should be aware of those atrocities and do what we can, then detach from them to a degree, so that we can use that emotional energy to strengthen our families and communities.
Next, we must change our polarizing American mentality that every issue is one in which a winner beats a loser. Instead, we should dissociate from personalities, in order to focus on issues. By thoroughly exploring each other's thoughts, we can begin to find and build on points with which we can agree.
We can research where our investment funds are put - and let's not forget the obscenely profitable global arms industry. When we know which war-mongering funds are receiving our investments, we simply divest of those firms and invest in other, more peaceful firms, including those that promote withdrawing from dependence on oil, gas and coal for energy.
Training ourselves to acknowledge that all of the people in each ethnic group are not responsible, only a comparatively few leaders, we can avoid the tendency to blame and label the other side, as we learn how to live harmoniously together.
Still, we each have opinions on who is right, and who is the oppressor. That is natural. Can we come to a resolution in our minds of how to deal with that? Is it impossible? Not at all, says Craig E. Runde, Director, Center for Conflict Dynamics and Mediation Training Institute of Eckerd College.
In conflict resolution, participants need to understand what they want for themselves and for the other party. Mediators can help people explore this question when they have trouble doing it by themselves. Understanding these wants helps clarify the basis for sustainable solutions which need to address the interests of all the parties.
Often, we learn that we all share the same desires - for a safe, healthy environment in which to raise happy, productive children.
Once we learn how to communicate effectively together and teach it to our children as we interact in diverse groups, we are well on the way to creating a better world.
This is a seed. Please nurture it, as we nurture our children.
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