Ideas, Old Diary

Hear Your Enemy/Opponent/Customer

Most of us think “We are the good guys.”  That is simply the way the human mind works.  People don’t set out to be despicable humans; on some level, for some reason, we all think we’re doing the right thing for our circumstances.

Of course the kicker there is for our circumstances.  I say that because in cases like insurgency, or armed rebellion the folks down there fighting with sticks and stones instead of rockets and computers are doing so because they think they have no alternative because of what has been done to them previously.

That is one of the reasons that peace in the Middle East has been such a hard sought goal.  The social makeup of that area views justice as a very different thing from our Western view.  We tend to isolate instances and if someone does something against me on Wednesday I’m in court on Thursday seeking redress for that action.  But the Middle Eastern mind tends to have a longer view of justice.  How can you get justice for what was done on Wednesday if you haven’t first addressed what was done to me on Tuesday and Monday and the Sunday previous.  Justice can be isolated to instances and it becomes cumulative, or it can be viewed in toto and sought as a summation.  When one part of the negotiating team is seeking one form of justice while the other has it’s eyes on something completely different the complexity of negotiation is multiplied exponentially.

The thing is, though, that we can never achieve peace, or to be far more practical, make a profit, if we don’t listen to the people on the other side of the fence.  Business is learning that.  In recent years businesses around the world are learning to respond to the feelings of customers.  Businesses have an immediate need to do so.  No sales, the company goes bankrupt, people lose jobs, banks lose money…. you know the drill.

But governments don’t go “bankrupt” in the same way.  And they can continue in a course of action for years, for decades, for centuries and unless something changes to cause them to see the world differently there will be no change.  The United States, for example, feeling it’s superiority over other nations has been at war for the better part of it’s 200 + year history.  As a nation we don’t know how not to be at war — in part because a huge part of our economy is based in the jobs the Arms Industry provides to the population.

Take a couple minutes to listen to this video.  Regardless of it’s origin I challenge you to find fault with it’s logic.

I say, “regardless of it’s origin” because as you’ll notice it bears the logo for Al Jazeera.  Al Jazeera you may recall is a Middle Eastern news source, originating in Qatar.  Understandably the bias (and EVERY new source has it’s bias) is different from a news outlet originating in the U.S. but different does not automatically mean “wrong.”

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me a little, wooden, pocket coin.  IT wasn’t currency, it was a reminder.  engraved on both sides were the admonition,

hear the other side

and I can’t tell you how big an impact it had on me.  Carrying that around with me when I was making the rounds of customers served as an excellent reminder to listen first before I started formulating a response. You do realize that formulating a response while someone else is talking is a big problem for us here in the U.S.  We can be so sure of ourselves that we don’t care what the other person is saying because we are certain we are right.  And we’ll be doggone if anyone is going to tell us otherwise!

The thing is, sometimes the U.S. has sometimes been the equivalent of the Evil Empire.  Our First Nations surely would agree — after all we treated the first residents of North America disgracefully, and in fact we continue doing so as government at the behest of business continue taking land and resources from Native Americans in violation of treaties we made with them.

We are at a point in history when military mistakes can make the earth uninhabitable for us all.  The impetus for peace is greater than it’s ever been and yet there seems little willingness to consider peace as an alternative as long as the military has new toys to play with that they are just itching to use.  And decisions made in private without the light of public scrutiny are guaranteed to favor the few and not the many.