Monday, November 4, 2013

Hello, Good News!

As I'm sure you've noticed, phones are dominating the news at the moment.
From the phone hacking case at The Old Bailey, to the constant trickle of leaked news telling us of NSA's phone tapping activities in Europe . . . phones, their users and their interceptors are everywhere.

But what strikes me as rather sad is the fact that this news is universally bad.  By and large, any good news relating to phones slips unnoticed under the radar of the media.

Which is not to say that there isn't good news on this subject.  There is.  I've just learned of one particular, heart-warming item that fully deserves publicity . . . may I share it with you?

Talking about his forthcoming book, 'Empathy', and urging all of us to join what he terms 'The Empathy Revolution', Roman Krznaric (portrayed in this lively sketch by Andrew Park) spoke of an unlikely project that has been sowing fertile seeds of hope in the Middle East.

Under the name, 'Hello, Peace!', it was launched in December 2002 by 'The Parents' Circle' . . .  an organisation based in Israel and Palestine which 'promotes reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge'.
As its name implies, 'Hello, Peace!' involves phone calls . . . unexpected and life-changing phone calls.

Under this imaginative scheme, anyone in the region who has suffered bereavement on account of the prolonged conflict, can make a free phone call 'over the wall' and communicate with a similar sufferer on the other side.

By these means, bereaved Palestinians are able to speak freely for up to half-an-hour to bereaved Israelis.  Bereaved Israelis can reach out and make contact with bereaved Palestinians.  They can share their mutual grief, build up an understanding, and, by talking and listening, form an empathetic link.

Neither side is in search of an outlet for anger, it is the empathy formed with someone who is experiencing a loss similar to their own that creates a tangible bond . . . a bond that can be both healing and sustaining, a bond that can lead to peace.

The figures alone stand testament to the success of this inspired project.  Over a million calls were made in the first five years of its availability.

In the words of Roman Krznaric, "Empathy, the imaginative act of stepping into another person's shoes and viewing the world from their perspective, is a radical tool for social change and should be a guide for the art of living."

Wouldn't you agree that boundary-breaking projects, such as this, bring home the truth  that we need each other . . . that we are part of each other?  What's more, that given the opportunity and the encouragement, we can grow together in wisdom and understanding.

Let me share a phrase I read recently, 'We are not human beings,' it declared, 'we are human becomings'.
Along with everything else in the universe, we are evolving . . becoming more aware . . . becoming more conscious of our inter-dependence, our basic unity.

At a level familiar to all of us, just watch a group of football supporters after their team has scored a goal.  Whilst bad news freezes and isolates, so good news clearly liberates and unites.

True, when it comes to football matches there might be a divergence of views between the opposing teams.  But were a free phone link to be made available after the match, there would still be a strong point of empathy between supporters on both sides . . . a shared deep love of the game.

So . . .  if we're looking for front-page headlines that lift our spirits, promote understanding, and generally unite us, wouldn't you say that the moving news of 'Hello, Peace!' far outweighs the nefarious activities of international phone-tappers?

We don't need a free phone link to agree on that!