Human beings are social creatures, we need to meet, talk and be around one another. Two peoples living in a conflicted region often can’t meet and socialize either due to man-made physical walls or virtual ones from decades of political tensions or contrasts in ideologies.
But dialogue is truly crucial in breaking those barriers. One can never understand what another is going through without the opportunity to hear them out and their perspective on things. The abilities to both be empathetic and compassionate are unique traits of humanity. But the initial step must be to bring those two peoples together in order for that dialogue to take place.
Social media has done wonders in that respect. People that would otherwise never get to meet and talk, either because of distance or some conflict between their peoples, now do – albeit virtually – but they do meet and converse.
Newly developed relations between two individuals that are slowly getting to know one another is often a revelation on how much they actually have in common. How much they value the same things.
If you think about it, any person of any faith, race, color or background with an open-mind mentality and an acceptance of others’ faith, race and background and with a pragmatic mind-set, will not care about those aspects about a person when talking to them. In normal circumstances, when two individuals are in a conversation, they do not judge the other based on their religion or place of origin – unless, they have not had contact with the “other” and hatred or prejudice has been ingrained in them (either by their surroundings, biased media or propaganda).
But hatred without reason is fear of the “other”. And that fear is ignorance. And that ignorance is fed by assumptions, lies, exaggerations, stories...basically all but the truth.
This fear is often the case between Israelis and Palestinians. They fear the other when they have never met them or spoken to them. However, when they do meet (online or in person) and interact with the “other”, it seldom is hatred. (And here I will have to specify that especially online, in a forum specifically debating the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, it is not the ideal place to learn from the other and seek friendships.)
I don’t speak of all this from direct experience as I am not in that region. I am overseas in Canada.
However, this brings me back to social media and from that front I regularly see these wonderful relations and friendships between Arabs/Palestinians and Jews, and the tireless, hard advocacy work they both do for their cause: Peace.
There are countless non-profit organizations and NGOs working for that cause. Most have a mission to bring the two peoples together so they can learn from one another and unite towards working for peace.
But there are many that are involved a little more indirectly. They basically practice a certain profession but through it, they contribute or speak out for the cause.
Here are some examples:
- Peace through formal education;
- Peace through film-making;
- Peace through music;
- Peace through medicinal practice;
- Peace through business/profits;
- And peace through volunteerism.
But most importantly all these efforts toward peace acts come from peaceful interaction between the two peoples. In other words, it starts with “dialogue”. Breaking barriers by engaging in conversation is crucial! Far or near from the region, unprecedented communication technologies offers us the tools to connect. Let’s use them wisely; let’s connect for peace.
I have my own Facebook group in which members and I share inspiring posts on how Arabs/Palestinians and Jews connect in different ways in the name of ‘Peace”. Acts of Peace can come from any field as mentioned above and the stories are endless and very motivating. Please go have a visit and if you would like to join, just add your name. Group name is PeaceActs-->Peace Talk.