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Finding shared values for Reconciliation in Australia and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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Finding shared values for Reconciliation in Australia and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

by Dr. John Bellavance

The Voice to Parliament was a divisive and name-calling experience because both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides adopted the “us versus them” mentality – you are wrong, and we are right.

Greg Lukianoff called this mindset the common-enemy identity politics which was clearly on display from both sides, and the media during the debates. Both sides did not listen to each other, preferring the comfort of their own narratives and echo chambers.

I must say, as a new Australian from Canada and a leader of an NGO in General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, I have found the whole experience lacking the pursuit of truth and shared understanding required to move forward. This “us versus them” mindset caused us to lose a sense of the values we share as Australians.

Common-humanity identity politics was practiced by Dr. Martin Luther King who took this approach to unite blacks and whites to achieve civil rights by appealing to the shared American ideals of life, liberty, and happiness. Dr. King took the approach of humanizing their opponents and appealing to their humanity.

To move forward in this important process of reconciliation, we need to turn down this “us versus them” mindset, turn up our sense of common humanity, and move beyond overly simplistic assessments of those we do not agree with, which is so common in the media and social media. I think we are all a bit tired of these simplistic assessments.

To find solutions to the critical challenges of our time requires us to move beyond the political and ideological worldviews of left-wing and right-wing; we need a headwing approach – a sincere pursuit of truth and shared values. Through restoring morality and cooperation, we can move towards better outcomes. To move forward, we need to listen to each other’s concerns to find the truth that each side is seeking. Without this, we cannot move towards genuine reconciliation that Australians desire.

A national vision for a Voice to Parliament cannot be achieved through political or ideological partisanship but must involve a commitment to personal change, shared values, and a willingness to understand the views and concerns of others. Additionally, what was clearly missing in the debate was a conversation about the values we share as Australians. One of the problems we face today is the separation between values and actions, truth, and action. Ignoring important truths and values has led to unethical practices of individuals and businesses, technological development, and social and political action.

The problem with the “us versus them” mentality is also evident in the current narrative about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. World leaders were quick to support Israel for the tragic loss of innocent lives but left out the other side of the truth, ignoring the decades of suffering perpetrated by Israel on the Palestinian people. Here too, we need a headwing approach – a sincere pursuit of truth and shared values.

Truth and finding shared values are needed for this conflict to stop and reconciliation to occur.

Dr. John Bellavance, Oceania Coordinator, International Association of Academicians for Peace, Vice-President, Universal Peace Federation Australia. UPF is an NGO in General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.



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