The ground of wisdom is understanding: Israel and Palestine being heard

The Nonviolent Global Liberation’s “Responding to War with Love” statement is the most profound shift I’ve felt in the collective field of mutual trauma that constitutes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I feel deeply moved to share it, so we can all share the human pain and clarity it provides.  I invite you to consider joining your energy to its ability to work that field.  First, scroll down its page and read it all.  Have you ever read anything quite like it?  What will we each do with it? – Tom

I want to highlight a remarkable effort to awaken us all to the depths of trauma on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I found it a clarifying acknowledgement of two deeply held collective experiences that don’t easily co-exist.  But co-exist they poignantly do in this “Responding to War with Love” statement  I see it having everything to do with wisdom.

On the surface, I think wisdom seeks understanding by looking beyond the presenting situation, into interconnected systemic dynamics dancing together to make the situation what it is. In that realm, wisdom tracks the evolving big picture context where webs of causation are and/or could shape what happens next.

Also, I think below the surface, wisdom seeks under-standing by exploring the deep places where motivation arises.  It delves into the fabric of feelings, needs, stories, traumas, longings, callings, where psyche and soul generate responses, evoke actions, shape behaviors.  Wisdom looks for where the life-energy of what’s happening is coming from.

I see these as the two primary realms of understanding – insight and empathy.  In both realms, wisdom uses different forms of inquiry, investigation. and powerful questions to understand more of what’s at work in the situation. 

Smart people can use what they learn to manipulate a situation towards ends they desire.  Wise people use the act of shared exploration and reflection to open up possibilities for those involved and for the greater life within which the situation is embedded. 

That’s how I experience the “Responding to War with Love” statement. I see a unique example of empathic public sharing of insight into the fabric of factors and motivations generating the immense human tragedy of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Despite partisan aspirations on both sides, there is no clear response to the mutual pain.  

What this empathic statement offers is a wise awakening to a complex whole of human experience and accountability. Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Arabs, and everyone else involved can feel heard and hear the Other in this empathic, multi-perspective public revelation. It provides a ground of understanding upon which to carry on dialogue and deliberation to generate workable paths forward.  Without it, we’re left with analysis, deal-making, and force as our primary tools – tools which are painfully inadequate in a situation as mutually traumatic and complex as this.

We’d be wise – for this is what wisdom is about – to take this opportunity seriously.  And to consider what an insightfully full-picture empathic communication like this can add to efforts to heal and transform such profound and ongoing collective pain.  Think about what it means to sign it and to spread it.


Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440

Appreciating, evoking and engaging the wisdom and resourcefulness of the whole on behalf of the whole

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