In Middle East, on Earth:

We are born to empathize, befriend

Monday, 07 June 2010


"Perhaps everything terrible is, in its deepest being,

something that needs our love."

            --Rainer Maria Rilke  (1875-1926)

     Contrary to the Gaza flotilla brutality, mature humans are not soft-wired for aggression, violence, and self-interest.
     Our first drive is to belong. . .to one another, to Earth.

We're born to empathize, befriend
     We are quickly learning about human behavior -- and misbehavior -- from brain research and child development.
     To remind us we are one global family, all of us humans are soft-wired with mirror neurons.
     We sympathize and empathize -- emulate, reflect, and sense -- what we see others doing and feeling.
     We are primarily designed for sociability, attachment, and companionship.
    WATCH a profoundly important video:


The Empathic Civilization

Jeremy Rifkin

06 May 2010 -- Animated 11-minute video


     Changing human history is a story of expanding identification, widening family ties -- de-tribalizing.
     Our first, blood ties were to self and family, then our religious circles, then our nations. 
     SEE "Expanding Identification" at
     Today's technology allows us to further expand -- connect our empathy to the whole human race.
     We are preparing the foundation for an empathic civilization -- our natural, high destiny.

     New technologies allow us to extend the central nervous system (CNS) to identify "family" -- viscerally, not only intellectually -- with the whole human race and biosphere.
     After the Haiti earthquake, within minutes were Twitters, within two hours cellphone videos on YouTube.
     Within three hours the entire human race was in an empathic embrace coming to the aid of Haitians.
    We saw who we are becoming -- beyond nationalism, self-interest, pleasure seeking.


"To empathize is to civilize.

To civilize is to empathize."

     -- Jeremy Rifkin


    "The Possibilities of Friendship" was a Harvard University oration this graduation season.
     Historian Natalie Zemon Davis concluded that friendship can be a resource in areas of great cleavage.
     Zemon cited the gap between Palestinians and Israelis as described in I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctors Journey, the memoir by Izzeldin Abuelaish, M.P.H. 04, recounting his life in Gaza, his practice in Israel, and the death of three daughters when his house was shelled by Israeli troops in early 2009.
     See the story at
     Palestinian Abuelaish's empathic responsepromoting efforts to bring about peace and humanitarian works, including his efforts to start a memorial scholarship for emerging young womensuggest, Davis said, that in such ways can the star of friendship blaze anew, promoting truth, truth-telling, and understanding.


The Possibilities of Friendship

Historian Natalie Zemon Davis

Orator - 220th Phi Beta Kappa Literary Exercise

Harvard University -- Tuesday, 25 May 2010

28 min video






Arabs and Jews find friendship
in each others' homes
     We need a cultural revolution between Arabs and Jews, proclaims Said Abu Shakra, founder of the first Arab contemporary art gallery in Israel.
     I believe art is a catalyst for social change.
     It empowers communities and contributes to progress.
     Wherever there is culture, pride and a sense of belonging, things proceed in the right direction.
     Abu Shakra provides a powerful example of how this transformation occurrs.


How to get Palestinians and Israelis into each others' homes

by Carin Smaller

Common Ground News -- 01 June 2010


     After October 2000, Jews would not come to his Arab town of Umm el Fahem out of fear and mistrust.
     In response, artists initiated an exhibition called In House.
     Twenty young Jewish and Arab artists displayed their work in peoples homes across the city.
     For two months, Jewish people who came to the exhibition found themselves entering Arab homes and meeting families.
    It helped Jews and Arabs to look each other in the eye and overcome their fears. It was a great success!
     Also, by displaying artwork from Jewish artists, Abu Shakra believes the gallery helps fight Arab prejudice against Jews.
      The exhibitions bring about an extraordinary occasion for the Arab visitor to have a dialogue with a Jewish artist, to meet him or her in person and even to get involved in a common project.
     He also finds it interesting that while many Palestinian artists refuse to display their art alongside Jewish artists, they are often transformed when they meet Jews who visit the exhibition.
     Today, the gallery has become a meeting point for Jewish, Arab and international artists.      This month they are hosting an International Ceramics Symposium with creators from the United States, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Israel.
     The artists are encouraged to meet and learn about each others culture, history, pain and aspirations, explains Abu Shakra.

Ukuleles for Peace
in homes, schools
     Teaching ukulele music and relationship building, for six years, the husband-wife team of Paul Moore ( ) and Daphna Orion have awakened Palestinian and Jewish youth to harmony through shared music and living face-to-face.


Ukuleles for Peace


     The couple take youth and their families "from Conflict to Coexistence: Creating opportunities for Jewish and Arab children to meet and become involved with one another in their daily lives."
     In 2010, one recent success is with youth of the Democratic School in Hod-Hasharon and El Jajach school in Tira who meet in both schools and homes.
     Growing closer together, they and their families now share picnics, green events like beach cleanups, and operas.
     Now the mothers meet in-depth once a month, alternating between Jewish and Arab homes.
     Organizer Daphna Orion says: "When I see them altogether, I feel that there is harmony there and they belong with one another. . .it brings tears to my eyes."
    VIEW both parts of their 2010 video:


Ukuleles for Peace 2010 - Part 1

Ukuleles for Peace 2010 - Part 2

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These and hundreds of other success stories are preserved at