Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Post #103 - Finding Common Ground

"The winds of grace are blowing, but it is you that must raise your sails." (Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore)

"Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there." (Rumi)

Israeli government advisor and negotiator Daniel Levy has said, quoting a report of the Institute for National Security Studies:

"We have to start thinking about Iran as a rational, logical, national, self-interested actor, who are not going to voluntarily offer themselves up for national suicide.
Daniel Levy
"Containment is being done in an extremely ineffective way. Engagement is not being tried and I would say I'd go for one or both of those options much more effectively. I think the military option is, I would go far as to say, prohibitively dangerous and risky.
"We [Israelis] refuse to be dragged into an atmosphere of collective self-induced fear. We will not allow our people to sink into depression and insecurity. We have immense strength."

Can we in the United States venture any less? What, then, must we do?

1.  Search for common ground with Iran’s turbaned leaders in our shared desire as children of God to serve Him and achieve paradise after this life on earth. Both Muslims and Christians must find a way to reconcile traditional values with the opportunities and hazards of modernity. Join together on issues where there is common ground, such as trafficking in drugs or sexual slaves.

2.  Admit that we in the West do not have all the answers – if that were so our marriages would not be failing, our young people would not be addicted and our cities would not be violent and alienating places to live; we would not lead the world in firearms deaths and arms sales. If we had all the answers, we would not be imprisoning a thousand of our people for every 100,000 (to Iran's 222). If Iran had all the answers, its people would be not be chafing at the yoke of Islamic discipline. They would not be losing their younger generation to the cynicism and distrust of government.

3.  Boldly, but respectfully, question the rightness of intrusive monitoring and harshly punitive enforcement of morality, which causes such tension in Iranian society; suggesting alternatives that might achieve the desired end in a way more pleasing to God. We, too, have difficulty knowing how to balance freedom for our citizens and a widely-shared desire to return to wholesome norms in areas such as sexuality in the media, honesty in public and private life and respect for life, in all its forms. God must find us wanting as well. We could tackle these baffling questions together.

Hillside in Northern Iran
4.  Preserve the natural environment.  The earth that God gave us is being despoiled by people in Iran as well as in America. We in the United States can learn how to return to a less profligate use of energy by a re-examination of our hectic and wasteful lifestyle; Iranians can learn how to harness technologies to clean the polluted air of Tehran and keep Iran's rivers pure for residents and tourists alike to enjoy. In some respects, Iran is already a bright spot in the Middle East. The constitution adopted in 1979 puts environmental protection as “a public obligation”, and mandates that “all activities, economic or otherwise, which may cause irreversible damage to the environment, are forbidden.” The environmental magazine, E, called Iran “a role model for much of the Islamic world.” Muslim theology supports respect for the created world, and the United States, for its part, has many of the premier scientists and engineers that can solve the world's environmental problems if given the political will and the resources the job will require. The cooperative activities begun with Iran in 2001 under Wildlife Conservation Society auspices should be continued and expanded.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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