Friday, September 14, 2001 by Dave Winer.
There are a lot of new people reading Scripting News, and first I want to welcome them to the community. Welcome.
There are lots of ways to communicate with others, today the preferred way is to join the special mail list for the topic of the day, which started out earlier this week as the bombing of the World Trade Center in NY, but now is broadening to cover the world of opinion.
The list is sure to flame out at some point, at which time we'll start a new list. That's life on the Internet.
If you want to understand my site, here's something you need to know about me. I am a pacifist. I'm always going to look for a way to avoid killing people, or being killed myself. I think we don't listen well enough, and many people are proud of their barriers to listening, and these days they have all kinds of excuses for parading this. Racism is rampant. This is a good thing, believe it or not, because the feelings were always there, now we get to find out who among us have these feelings. They're better expressed in emails than in warfare.
I am also a Jew, first-generation American, a proud son of Holocaust survivors. An aging hippie. Raised in NY, a Mets fan. Bronx Science graduate (and Tulane and UW-Madison). Independent software developer. Writer. And (I hope) listener and transmitter of well-stated points of view. I am a thirsty student. Teach me. But I don't care for arguments that boil down to this: shut up. I believe in the power of communication, or I wouldn't be putting my time into fostering communication now, at a time, when so many have so much to say.
I especially want to hear from other people who are caught in the middle of this week's events. We've heard from the Israelis, the Europeans, god knows we've heard from Americans -- but what about the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims? Where are their voices?
I love my parents, and the memory of my grandparents -- but they taught me something that's wrong -- that Palestinians are all terrorists who hate the United States and (more important to them) Jews.
Then in 1998, I had a fantastic experience. I designed a protocol with two people from Microsoft, and get this, one of them is Palestinian. A brilliant man, raised in Los Angeles, works at Microsoft, we couldn't be more different, but we also had something in common -- a love for fairness and chaos and freedom. The protocol we designed is, today, a big success.
And perhaps in this time of trouble it can be a small symbol of peace and cooperation, and finding ways to heal the wounds, to make up for past wrongs, and move on to something brighter, more loving, and more fun.
I just sent an email to my mother, a NY school psychologist, who witnessed the destruction of the WTC from a rooftop in Brooklyn. She told me about a ceremony of solidarity to take place at 7PM Eastern today. Let's hold candles, where ever we are, and light up the sky with our love. We're the survivors. We are living. Now, as Microsoft asks, Where do we want to go today?
Here's what I said, and asked: "Now is the time to open our ears and listen, and see what comes back. Would you be willing to go on a citizen's mission of peace to the Middle East, to feed Palestinian children, to help them as you have helped the children of NY?"
In the past we might have felt this was too dangerous to consider, but now we know we're all at risk, no matter where we live. That's been true for a long time, but this week we got the wakeup call. In many ways the Palestinian people are just like us. They love their families, value education and scholarship, and because they've been living at risk for their whole lives, probably can teach us about the value of life and freedom, and at a more pragmatic level, how to survive in a world where terrorism is a daily fact of life.
And could we have the reverse? Could peace-loving Palestinians come to our country, to help us with our pain and grief? What would they say to us after the anger subsides? Could we set aside our pride and admit that we need help now? When we really listen, understand what life has been like for them, would we still be enemies? I think not.
Cynical people have always dismissed pacifism as unrealistic, but such people couldn't have imagined suicidal bombers, people who believe so strongly in their cause that they were willing to die for it. Now pacifism probably doesn't seem so extreme. Turning the other cheek is the right response. (And tightening airport security, of course.)
We now know for a fact that the heart of humanity is still ticking. Now, when so many hearts are open, is the time to solidify that, ratify that, accept that. Life is not flat and uneventful. We can change. The best way to isolate evil, if it really exists, is to surround it with love.