Wed 30 May 2012
A couple of months back, we began to talk about one of our biggest projects here at Dumbo Feather: peace. The narrative of peace building emerged in our latest issue through the story of Liberia’s conflict, and will continue in the issues ahead. But we have bigger plans, and we want you to be part of them.
Read on for our CEO Danny’s story of the birth of this project, and then find out about a unique internship opportunity to help make this happen.
It all started with a conversation I had on the last night of a conference on social enterprise. Having been born in Israel and with half my family still living there, I am deeply connected to the place and passionate about its future, and peace. I got into a very deep discussion about peace with a filmmaker who had just completed a film on the Israel/Palestine conflict which he hoped would help bring peace to the region. He showed me and some fellow conference delegates a snippet of the film, which seemed to me to be quite one sided. I challenged him and said that it made me uncomfortable, and I couldn’t see how outsiders taking sides could really bring the two sides any closer. He responded with his view that there was one side who was more to blame. The discussion got quite heated and in the end we had to part ways disagreeing, but it helped me distil a very significant idea, once which I have been pursuing ever since. What is our role in building peace and can peace be built by taking sides?
Elie Wiesel famously said “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” He is a survivor of the Holocaust, along with much of my own family, and he is right. We must choose between right and wrong, and stop atrocities and injustices whenever we can. But although some conflicts appear to be black and white, most are grey. And the more I learn about conflict, the more grey there seems to be. It is also remarkable how quickly you lose credibility with one side when you take the side of their enemy and I am yet to see someone mediate a peaceful resolution to a conflict by taking sides.
I propose that not taking sides doesn’t have to equal neutrality. What if the third side is actually peace? Exploring this unique third side has introduced me to some amazing organisations and people around the world who have decided that hating the enemy is not going to advance any form of reconciliation. I think that these groups haven’t got the attention they deserve. The media (and filmmakers like the one who instigated this journey for me) like to focus on the conflict and tell the story of the oppressed and the oppressor. Sadly, conflict sells. So I want to invest my energy in supporting the people and organisations who are actively working towards peace on each side, working with those who are on the other side as partners, not enemies. They are pursuing forgiveness and reconciliation, not blame and punishment. Let’s start a movement to highlight them and tell the world that there is a third side. Let’s celebrate the peace bridge builders. This is my Pass It On.
Want to be involved in our explorations on this topic? We’re looking for a very special intern. For peace! We want somebody passionate about rigorous research and global policy to join us for a day or two a week. You’ll spend your time hunting down the most inspiring and exciting peace building projects around the world, and then you’ll help us figure out how to tell their stories. Sound amazing? Great! Go here for more.