I bet you're surprised to see the E word in one of my post titles. I'm better known for smart assery and snark. I have never sung Kumbaya but I do believe in the power of empathy. A wise person, as well as a wise ass, is,uh, wise to try to walk a mile in the other guy's shoes to paraphrase the old hippie, dippy song. Many conflicts, large and small, can be avoided by understanding the other person's perspective and figuring out if can be accommodated. It's just good manners as well as common sense.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with this. The world is suffering from an empathy crisis, gap or whatever the hell you want to call it. We see it every day in what passes for political discourse in our country. That's usually a non-lethal form of the empathy gap but a more deadly example is the latest Gaza Strip conflict.
Both sides are badly led and fixated on upholding their "principles" at all costs. The Israelis have better and more lethal weapons but Hamas would do the same if things were equal. That's why I always call it a death dance between two unreasonable parties who seem incapable of understanding the other side's perspective. The ones who suffer are the ordinary people . They're the ones who die when their leaders stick to their guns no matter the consequences.
It's hard to see a permanent solution to the Hamas-Netanyahu government dispute. Both sides are dominated by religious zealots whose ideological rigiidity is only exceeded by their ineptitude and stubbornness. Hamas is quite willing to absorb thousands of casualties because they know that the Israelis will be blamed. The Netanyahu government is convinced of the righteousness of their cause and keeps making enormous strategic mistakes such as allying themselves with the Republican right.
It's no secret that more *secular* leaders are the ones who have made progress in the past from Sadat to Dayan and Begin to Rabin and Peres to Arafat and Abbas. The religious revival in the Middle East has been bad for the peace business and has made empathy a depressingly scarce commodity.
I just needed to vent my frustrations this morning. It would help if they'd see each other as human beings instead of asTHE ENEMY, but the death dance is likely to continue.