This post continues my previous one regarding the recent spate of Muslim anti-American attacks sparked by an anti-Muslim video.
This past Sunday, September 16, Krista Tippet rebroadcast an interview of hers with Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of Great Britain on her American Public Media radio program called, On Being. She has called that particular program, The Dignity of Difference. The transcript is here and below is an exercpt of that conversation:
Ms. Tippett: You’ve made a statement I think is audacious: “The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation, speaking our fears, listening to the fears of others, and in that sharing of vulnerabilities, discovering a genesis of hope.” Now as someone who conducts conversation for a living, I love that statement. I wonder how you know that to be true, that the antidote to violence is conversation.
Lord Sacks: Well, we’ve have in Judaism, you know, your listeners may find this hard to understand, especially in a religion where I’m promoting marriage and the family — we have a problem in Jewish religious divorce. For reasons we needn’t go into, a husband can withhold a divorce from a wife so that they may be civilly divorced and living apart, but the wife is unable to remarry. She’s really a living widow. We call her a chained woman, and I have to resolve those things.
In the end, the way we resolve them, the really hard cases, is actually just by listening. And that listening gives each of the two parties the feeling that they are heard, and once they’re heard, they can then begin to speak what they really feel. And then they can begin to realize that there are things they still care about in common, not perhaps enough to save their marriage, but certainly enough to remove the animosity from their divorce. It’s extraordinary how a simple act of sitting around a table and speaking and listening can actually solve cases that prove insoluble both by the civil and the religious courts. Likewise, in real conflict sense, you know, I’ve sat and talked to, you know, people who used to be Hamas terrorists …
Ms. Tippett: Really?
Lord Sacks: … and have become peace activists just because they saw, you know, how much of a dead end they were getting themselves into. I just see so much effort at peacemaking taking place at the very elite levels where, you know, egos can be rather larger than they need be and nobody really is willing to lose for the sake of long-term winning for both of us. Sometimes I think what would happen if we generated real conversations at the grassroots level between the people whose lives are really affected?
So it seems that deep listening is needed as well as compassion, the Golden Rule, mindfulness, and speaking mentioned in my previous post.
To close this discussion, I end with a series of posts on Twitter that Karen Armstrong did tweet (on Monday, September 17) regarding the Muslim anti-American protests:
How can we apply the Golden Rule to the crisis in Libya & Cairo?
Look into your own heart, discover what gives you pain, and refuse under any circumstances to inflict this on anyone else…
If we feel pain when our own sacred traditions and heroes are dishonored, and our nation’s flags and embassies are attacked….
…then we cannot do this – even verbally – to others
The makers of the abuse film don’t represent America and the violent attackers don’t represent Islam
‘Use your own feelings as a guide to your treatment of others’ (Confucius)
I would say we all should use our butterfly wings in the right and good way.
I Declare World Peace.