Brexit and the US election: understanding the ‘other’

Oct
7
2016
by
Lynne McTaggart
/
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As I witness the great divisions in both Britain and America in the recent referendum and ongoing US election campaign, I’m reminded of Mark Gerzon, who, as a leadership facilitator with the Congress and the United Nations, once worked with the New Israel Fund, an organization whose membership, comprised of both Israelis and Palestinians, raises money for a number of joint causes.

 

When he asked the board how they were able to work together so effectively, one board member replied, “We are able to live with paradoxes.”

As I witness the great divisions in both Britain and America in the recent referendum and ongoing US election campaign, I’m reminded of Mark Gerzon, who, as a leadership facilitator with the Congress and the United Nations, once worked with the New Israel Fund, an organization whose membership, comprised of both Israelis and Palestinians, raises money for a number of joint causes.

 

When he asked the board how they were able to work together so effectively, one board member replied, “We are able to live with paradoxes.”

 

To illustrate their point, one Palestinian and one Israeli each wrote his own abbreviated version of the establishment of the State of Israel. The Palestinian narrative, called “The Disaster,” referred to the establishment of Israel as “a great tragedy.”

 

“Entire villages were destroyed and land and property were confiscated while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees.  Overnight, the Palestinians became a minority in their own homeland.”

 

The Israeli’s narrative, on the other hand, titled “Independence,” marked the fulfilment of the Jews’ “historical right” to establish a state in the Promised Land.  Nevertheless, despite the UN’s partition plan, which declared Israel a state, from “the dawn of its foundation,” the Jews were beleaguered from all sides.

 

“The Arab nations attacked the Jewish nation,” the “Jews bravely expelled the British mandate, and since then, the Jewish national has been fighting for its mere existence.”

 

The tragedy — the reason for enduring conflict — is that both stories are essentially true.

 

 

Taking a view from the top 

When you see and notice the whole, you allow for and respect more than one version of reality.

 

You develop a kind of “aerial vision” by fine-tuning your ability to notice the detail about people and cultures that are different from yours, which eventually helps you to refrain from thinking that traps you into an “us” and “them” mindset.

 

Aerial vision also enables you to hold opposing ideas in your head without being judgmental because you recognize the whole that ties everything together. You detach from your own vantage point and your own prejudices in order to entertain several viewpoints and stop taking your own side.

 

Aerial vision also allows you to transcend your tendency to always look to your own vantage point for solutions to problems.

 

Well-meaning American troops caused enormous resentment in Iraq, for instance, after demolishing several beloved and well-used soccer fields in Baghdad in order to build the $1.5 million Trigris River Park as a “good will gift.”

 

Through their eyes only

Recently, Don Beck, the social psychologist and noted political consultant, attended a large investment conference in Bethlehem, where a number of western multinationals were recommending high-tech investment in Palestine.

 

To their astonishment, Beck insisted that they invest in a cement factory.

 

The potential investors were alarmed by the idea of investing in Industrial-Age technology until Beck convinced them to look through Palestinian eyes.

 

The refugees were living without permanent homes; what they needed most was not computers or mobile homes, but materials for housing, predictable, blue-collar work, an industry with a constant market and a source of building materials inside their own borders.

 

Once you begin to see the whole, you can see past your own assumptions and beyond differences to our common humanity — a
nd to the space that binds us all together.

 

It might be helpful for all of us to try to hold this kind of aerial vision when trying to understand all those people on the other side of the debate – on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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