What matters is not the issue itself but how we communicate it.
What allow people to do terrible things to other people is a very simple thing that we know as dehumanization: the act of calling people rats, targets, fascists, leftists, conservatives, commies, terrorists, collaborators, assets, #MAGA, demorats, bobo-environmentalists, enemies, monsters or any other names that despise anyone who thinks, behave or identify differently as unworthy but also the distance between decision makers (politicians, journalists, security forces but also and mostly citizens and individuals when they influence their leaders and their security forces through their journalists) and those who endure the consequences of their decisions. Dehumanization is the process of allowing oneself to tolerate bringing death and destruction to a real individual that is supposed to be part of another collective which is itself only the product of imagination.
As I am writing these lines (August 2019), dehumanization is coming back to the Western world where those who call themselves “rightists” and those who call themselves “leftists” are more and more looking for ways to illustrate the other as the cause of what they cannot see within themselves and therefore, legitimizing the destruction of the other as a requirement to solve their own issues. For example, not so far ago, a guy who grew up in my neighborhood thought that it would be wise to send me a series of messages depicting one of my relative who is a former parliament member as a “nocivity for society” after he had publicly accused all the people who supported a political party of being the scum of the earth. Also, more than a year ago, I have witnessed how dehumanization has turned the scenic paradise of Kashmir into a human hell. There, people will do anything to refuse the other one’s humanity regarding who he or she serves and who he or she support in the management of the common good. As a consequence, the worst of the brutality that one can imagine has become the norm in Kashmir. Even if the Kashmir issue is solved tomorrow, it will take decades or even centuries to repair the hearts and minds of those who exchanged their humanity for survival in the valley.
But in the Holy land, I have seen a light of hope in this world where, indeed, social digital networks dictate extreme dehumanization as a virtue in exchange for social validation given in the form of “likes”, “comments”and “views”. There, people from two, opposite sides gather and work hard together to rehumanize one another. These people that I met are aware that there will always be conflicts and disagreements. They are not foolish. But they are also aware that it is possible to build a society where people can disagree and even fight for one’s own interest without attempting to someone else’s life or dignity. These people are not naïve and immature idealists. They are aware of the realities of the world where we live in. They are aware of the need to consider security in society as much as they do consider civil rights as a must. These people are not perfect. They have their own contradictions. After all, they are humans. But still, the people from the peace initiatives of the civil society of Israel and Palestine share the dream of a better world for everybody regardless of their particularities and they act for it even when threatened and pressurized within their own communities.
Humanity, today is in better shape than it has never been before: in terms of proportions, less people die in violent conditions than it used; globalization and the technologies of communications have allowed mankind to begin a debate about its relationship with its environment for a better good; poverty and starvation are on a fast decrease. But still, the race between cooperation through discussion and conflict through violence is not yet over and will probably never end. However, the civil peace initiatives in Israel and Palestine are the roots of a fantastic asset for those who wish to cooperate and collaborate in order to defeat reckless violence and stupidity.