Israel took me by surprise. My husband and I celebrated my 10th year cancer free anniversary this year in Israel, and it was an incredible place to be for this profound time in our lives. Israel is the history of the world found in one small spot on the world map. One small piece of geography filled with so much emotion, so much history, and so much push and pull about who owns what and why.
Our guide, Nachum, was the best storyteller and facilitator of learning I have ever met. As we drove down a particular street in Tel Aviv, he pointed out that this street was the line that separated Palestinians from the Israeli's; each with houses facing the other with just a small street separating them. He pointed out that many houses had bullet holes in the stone facing - fresh ones - and many of the windows were closed down to a small opening to avoid the sniper fire that came through the windows. Conflict, fighting, war, hate were just a street apart.
In six days, Nachum brought together for us the 'now' of Israel with the past 3,000 years of history as two stories side by side. For the first time I could understand why the conflict doesn't want to go away. What we learned was that for thousands of years, each society that came to Israel, tried to wipe out the society before. They leveled the buildings down to the ground and build their edifices on top of the remaining rubble. Each took ownership of the land. Each marked their territory with their culture. Each lived there until the next great fight took place and another stronger power came in to conquer, enslave or exile the existing population.
Learning from History
People in Israel have rebuilt as much of history as they can so that visitors from around the world can see what happened... experience what happened... relive what happened with the hope that we can open our minds to the forces that continue to bring us together and pull us apart.
In Israel, archeological sites are being rebuilt so visitors can step into a 'recreated' edifice and experience the space, as did those who lived there thousands of years ago. They chart the old and new with a dark thick line on the walls, where below is the actual remaining wall and above is recreated space, the allowing visitors to step into that room and its history as through it were now.
One such recreated space we visited was at Masada - King Herod's fortress, where 960 Jewish zealots made their last ditch stand against the Romans, and chose to all commit suicide rather than being slaughtered and having their wives and children taken into slavery by their enemies.
People are drawn to Israel. We want to experience the past in a safe way. We want to see it, and learn from it,
yet the learning seems to live at the top of our consciousness and not filter down inside where we are willing to make fundamental changes in how we work together, how we live together and how we thrive together.
Holding Reality In Our Hands
I was blown away by this... an architect devoted his whole life to recreating the Western Wall and the city of Jerusalem in a 'model' so people would be able to walk around history and see and feel the story of people over thousands of years living through growth and conflict.
As Nachum walked us around the model we could be back there and be here at the same time - starting to understand the mighty forces of humanity and the tensions of people with different beliefs struggling to live together.
In our last day of the trip, we visited a newly unearth archeological site. This very ancient city has been the focus of a 29-year old excavation, which began when a mud slide after a torrential rain opened up the ground and below the rows of fully-grown trees emerged remnants of a theater. The archeologists knew that if a theater was there, then the city was near by - and it was!
As the team of archeologists dug the site, they unearthed an incredible city; they found markets for selling wares, spas for daily public bathing and having 'massages,' and a section of city where prostitutes offered their talents daily to those who were interested. Nachum showed us that this spot was another example of 'many owners'. At one time this land had been 'built up and owned' by the Jews, then taken over by the Byzantines, then by the Greeks and then inhabited by the Romans followed by the Arabs. The story of ownership and power continued to emerge right in front of our eyes in this archeological excavation, and continues to re-emerge as we return to the present and read the newspapers and talk with our friends about the fate of Israel and the larger story of how 'WE' is being created and destroyed right in front of our eyes.
How do we Create WE today? What are the most important and fundamental principles that we need to consider and practice as we learn to activate the most human parts of our minds, hearts and brains?
Creating WE Social Forces™
Where do these tensions live inside of you? Where do they live inside of your culture? Where do they live inside of your relationships, and what are you doing to understand how to move with them not against them...
- Fairness - how do we work out what is fair for 'us'?
- Ownership - what do we own, and what are our rules of engagement around ownership?
- Rejection - in what way might we be unnecessarily rejecting that which is different than us?
- Connection - in what ways can we foster connectivity and deeper understanding?
- Expression - how can we give each other space to speak our thoughts and express our voice?
- Status - how might status be getting in the way of creating 'power-with' others?
Trust at the Moment of Contact
In my new book on Trust (link to three sample chapters), I talk about the most important social forces that are hardwired into our DNA and drive our 'humanity.' Whether we were around three thousand years ago, or we are living today, these forces guide our interactions with each other. We are still struggling to figure it out, to work it through, and to find ways to emerge more whole and more humanized as a global community.