"An enemy is simply someone whose story you have
not yet heard."
~ Libby & Len Traubman, creators of the Jewish-Palestinian
Living Room Dialogue
7 Billion Friends
You have 7 billion friends... with 7 billion dreams. They may not be who you think. They might be Muslims. They may have dark skin, or light skin. They may speak a different language. Some may even be gay. But where it really counts, we are all the same.
One people. One world.
"An enemy is simply someone whose story you have not yet heard," says Len & Libby Traubman, creators of the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue. Their communication workshop is a powerful way to build peace between people who see themselves as "enemies" - a way to tell your story. It's a stunning experience that I promise will change your life.
30 Years of Success
For 30 years, Libby & Len have helped bring "enemies" together in a highly successful public peace process thru personal experience with Soviets and Americans, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, Jews and Palestinians, and most recently with Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.
During the Cold War, our political leaders and the media rolled out a highly impactful propaganda campaign. They told us: The Russians are the "Evil Empire," they want to nuke us, they want to destroy the US and democracy and take over the world. In short, the Russians are monsters. They taught our school-aged children to "Duck and cover" - to hide under their desks in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack. Americans built bomb-shelters in their homes. At the same time, guess what the political leaders in the Soviet Union were telling their people? The Americans want to dominate the world, they are bullies who use their military to push everybody around, they are the most violent country in the world (pointing, accurately, to our gun violence and mass shootings, which confused Soviets and Europeans who could barely comprehend it), the Americans are the only nation ever to use the atomic bomb in anger. They destroyed whole cities of innocent men, women and children. In short, the Americans are monsters. They want to destroy us!
Nuclear Holocaust - A Near Miss
The result? We almost launched a nuclear holocaust more than six times! The Cuban Missile Crisis is only one hair-raising example. Think of it... the end of the world, narrowly averted by the skin of our teeth!
Len and Libby traveled to Moscow during the height of the Cold War. Here's what they discovered. They stayed with Russian families and ate dinner with them. Guess what? The Russians love their children just as much as we do (it's the subject of a popular song by Sting called "Russians"). They want their children to be safe, they want good jobs and the freedom to pursue happiness. Just like we do. In other words, they are exactly like us. What a shock!
So why were our political leaders and media in both countries telling us lies? Because this tactic makes it easy for them to manipulate us. Politicians and the media routinely use fear, hatred, anger, greed and lies about the "threat" other people pose in order to manipulate us. Time and again, they have found these emotions to be a powerful tool to drag us into wars. Because these emotions are in fact so powerful they make it possible, no easy, to run us off a cliff like lemmings. Time and again history repeats itself, the same mistakes over and over, the same ugly, blood-soaked pattern.
This strategy is so effective that our leaders used it to force us into a massively expensive war against the little country of Vietnam. What was the threat? Communism. Did they honestly believe that the Vietnamese were going to get into boats and cross the Pacific and invade San Francisco? No! It was absolute horses**t, a ghost, a straw man, a lie. The Domino Theory that Communism would take over the world turned out to be a bunch of nonsense. Despite the fact that we bombed tiny Vietnam into dust (the US dropped 4 times more tons of bombs on Vietnam than it did in all of World War II) and ran 50,000 young American men thru the battlefield shredder, Vietnam is now rapidly on its way to becoming a capitalist country, just like China.
Shameful. Unforgiveable. What a waste!
Will we listen to our leaders next time?
Such scare tactics are routinely used in Israel and Palestine today. Yet, when Libby and Len bring Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims together to share their stories, in a strikingly short period of time they feel a deep bond; these former "enemies" become friends. It's like watching a miracle unfold before your eyes! (Our nickname for the living room dialogues is communicating with the "enemy", but I think we should call it "The Miracle".) Why does this work? Because the deep bond of friendship and shared dreams and goals and experience is the truth. It cuts through the lies.
In South Africa during Apartheid, a similar idea was used with striking results. At the height of Apartheid, it was against the law for white people and black people to be together. Nico Smith, a white minister and university professor and his wife moved into a poor black community. He did this as an act of conscience. He encouraged whites and blacks to have dinner together. He called this Koinonia, a Greek word found in the Bible which means community or sharing. Loosely translated, it means brother and sisterhood. They broke the law - it was an act of Civil Disobedience - but sometimes when the law is morally and ethically wrong, you have to answer to a higher law. For a wonderful article about this, please see Libby & Len's website at:
The goal of our 7 Billion Friends program is to disarm fear, hatred, anger, and greed by sharing our stories with each other. Why? Because these emotions create violence. And sharing our story creates kindness, empathy, compassion, and healing.
Here's the truth...
"There is no them." ~ Premal Shah, founder of KIVA
It's impossible to deeply know the truth of this until you directly experience it first-hand.
That's why we're offering this program to universities and colleges across the US, and soon internationally.
Join us for one of our 7 Billion Friends workshops, or host one in your community or at your college or university today. Simply send us an email on our Contact page. Thanks!