End war with communication, dignifying each other

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


We cannot change anything until we accept  it. 

Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.  

            --Carl Jung

It will never rain more roses. 

When we  want  more roses, we must plant more roses.  

            -- George Eliot

     New social science shows how antagonists can move beyond today's ideological differences.
     Away from confrontation, estrangement, nastiness, and name-calling.
     Toward engagement, empathy, and cooperation.
     Three studies reveal who we are and our everyday potential to say "yes" to communication and cooperation.

Study 1
We are born
to choose good
     Deep inside humans is a strong "default orientation toward trust, toward sharing resources, toward forgiveness, says Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory, University of California.
     "I have become aware of how good human beings are," says Keltner.



The Science of a Meaningful Life

by Dacher Keltner, Ph.D.

University of California, Berkeley

W.W. Norton, 2009, 352 pages


     Without putting aside differences, humans have a profound capacity through which vicious adversaries can form alliances.
     Yet we are often at our worst -- most contentious, least courageous and empathic -- in the presence of our own peers.
     We fear being seen dealing with the "other."
     We exaggerate differences with opponents especially in the company of fellow partisans.
     Members of small "solidarity" groups are prone to one-up one another.
     The most extreme tend rise quickly, making the group look more radical than it is.
     The public then overestimates differences, sometimes because news media broadcasts what is loud and most visible.

Study 2
We do best
remembering our
highest principles
     We do best when we dignify ourselves and each other.
     Studies show how large differences and rigid views can be transcended when individuals first recall a personal strength, principle, or memory they were proud of -- having acted with grace or courage.
     They are reminded of what matters most to them.
     Individuals were harsher -- less considerate and understanding -- with primary memories of themselves having failed to exhibit their most prized personal qualities.
     Confronting opposing views is a threat to identity.
     But if you remind people of what they value in some other domain of their life, it lessens the pain, said the lead author, Geoffrey L. Cohen, a social psychologist at Stanford University.
     It opens them up to" to other narratives and information that they might not otherwise consider.



Self-affirmation reduces ideological

closed-mindedness and inflexibility in negotiation

Cohen, G. L., Sherman, D. K., Bastardi, A., Hsu, L., McGoey, M., & Ross, L.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2007, Vol. 93, No. 3, pp. 415-430


     Such affirmations works best in people who boast strong convictions.
     First recalling treasured memories prompts openness, respect, and search for common ground.
     The person who both (1) recalls a principled act and (2) reaffirms his belief in the principle travels the greatest distance" to meet an adversary, to look for a middle ground, said Cohen.

Study 3
Ongoing intimate communication
creates common language and
helps discover common ground
     New evidence shows the supreme value of sustained, personal, intimate connection and communication.
     Conversation and correspondence partners quickly and subconsciously begin to speak alike even when they dont care for one another.
     I think of it as a verbal dance, said James W. Pennebaker, University of Texas psychologist.
     Speaking styles match up very quickly when people begin to talk to one another any two people.
     Within about 30 seconds, strangers making small talk begin speaking with similar tones, words, even slang.


Language style matching in writing:

Synchrony in essays, correspondence, and poetry

Ireland, M. E. & Pennebaker, J. W.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 549-571, Sept 2010


     "The more people are obsessed and feel victimized by past trauma, the less able they are to listen to one another," adds Pennebaker in personal conversation.
     "Coming to terms with issues or traumas is facilitated by writing or talking about our life experiences -- giving voice or pen to our stories."
     "When we come to terms with these traumas that haunt us, we then become better listeners and interactors."
     "The more closely we pay attention to each other, the more similarly we start talking and thinking alike."

     We need time communicating together to heal and to remember who we are at our very best.
     Then life favors us finding common language, common ground, and our best shared future.

                        -- L&L

Example 1
Teen Interfaith
Diversity Education (TIDE)
     "I am.  You aren't.  Now what?"

     In Sharon, Massachusetts, fifty diverse high school students from Interfaith Action's Youth Leadership Program spend each year planning their annual Teenage Interfaith Diversity Education (T.I.D.E.) Conference.

     They meet on Memorial Day Weekend -- next during May 27-29, 2011-- at Boston's Northeastern University --  .
     Young Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others learn to (1) communicate respectfully about highly charged issues, (2) develop leadership and facilitation skills, and (3) foster perpetual bonds.
     Teens from across North America are invited to submit proposals to lead workshops highlighting their work in relationship building among diverse youth.
     Adults working with teens can participate in a parallel but separate adult track at the conference sponsored Interfaith Action (IFA) --
     MORE INFORMATION about the Conference and IFA's training is available from Janet Penn ( ).


TIDE - Teenage Interfaith Diversity Education Conference 2010

5-minute video

Example 2
     In 22 nations, the 3rd Annual Weekend of Twinnings  of Mosques and Synagogues around the world actually lasted a month. 
     This 2010 year, it began the weekend of November 5-7 and concluded December 6th in Brussels with the Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish Leaders that is sponsored by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU).
     Tens of thousands of Muslims and Jews on four continents took part in more than 100 separate twinning events.
     This year's twinning events involved mosque and synagogue congregations, Jewish and Muslim student organizations, and young leadership groups.
     Activities included shared religious services and mutual Koran and Torah study, but this year added much more like:

--  festive meals, like over couscous near Paris with participation from the U.S. Embassy

--  environmental events, including an Atlanta tree planting trees together

--  the Muslim and Jewish youth park clean-up- in Washington, DC

--  Muslim and Jewish physicians, nurses, and social workers teaming up to give meals and a Health Screening Fair in Detroit

--  the Public Policy Forum convened in Queens by Muslims and Jews to consider issues of mutual concern

     In Ottawa, Canadian MP, Robert Oliphant, took the floor of the national Parliament to affirm Toronto's Twinning activity as an inspirational example of Jews and Muslims coming together to build a better Canada.
    More examples at
     READ more at:


Muslims and Jews visit each others holy places this November

by Habeeb Alli

Common Ground News Service -- 16 November 2010

Example 3
Song and
    Seeds of Peace -- -- continues to create summer and year-long programs that have offered thousands of Middle Eastern and other global youth experiences engaging face to face then carrying their new relationships and communication skills back home and into the future.
     Young Seeds from the Middle East recently wrote, choreographed, and performed WAGIN' PEACE, a remix of the World Cup anthem "Wavin' Flag' by Somali artist K'naan.



November 2010 - 5-min video

     October 2010 in Nigeria, 200 brave, young Muslims and Christians engaged for the 2nd Annual International Conference on Youth & Interfaith Communication --
     At a moment, a small group of participants spontaneously created a candle lighting ceremony to celebrate their day of successful listening and healing.


Nigeria Interfaith Dialogue - 2010

Candle Ceremony

2-1/2 min video


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These and hundreds of other success stories are preserved at