International Abrahamic Network (IAN) Conference Report - November 2017


The Track Two IAN Project Conference in Big Sur in early November brought together Track Two IAN leaders to share updates on important projects and to discuss IAN’s next phase. Overarching themes included the importance of discourse and its related action in solving seemingly intractable differences.

The many initiatives of Track Two in both the Russian American Project and IAN demonstrate this motion from dialog to action. Track Two guides and provides the forum for discussion; individuals within the network adopt relationships and tools from the conferences to launch and scale actions. Track Two’s role is not only as convener but also as resource provider (beyond funding), networker, skills-sharer, and communicator.

OVERARCHING THEMES OF THE CONFERENCE INCLUDED:

  • Understanding the value of discourse

  • Moving from discourse to action

  • Need for influencers within movements

  • Need for “tools” to stimulate perception change

  • Need for new languages – trading zones – to bridge understandings

  • Establishing the integrity of and honoring the “other”

  • The presence of courage

WHAT IS THE RANGE OF "THE PROBLEM" IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

The Middle East holds part of the “problem” – but the range of the problem of how we live peaceably in a diverse and complex world is in fact the whole planet – the “human” problem; the conflict between Israel and Palestine is so tough that solving this “problem” may provide a “model” for solutions in other places. Ireland has largely taken care of its “problem” reflecting intractable religious difference that has been largely addressed. In the first four years of our US-based work our efforts involved ideological, geographic, and philosophical difference and the spiritual context of conflict. What will the coming years address? We discussed the possibilities of social, cultural differences and the nature of humanity itself. We also touched upon notions like return of the repressed and the inherent tribal nature of homo sapiens.

We landed on the concept that recognizing the integrity and wholeness of the “other” is a global requirement and one that is extremely difficult to remember as conflicts over resources arise. The recognition of this “other” is core to understanding and healing even extremism.

WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC PROBLEMS WE TRY TO SOLVE?

The group shared some of the issues and characteristics of the conflict in the Middle East, as proxy for other conflicts including:

  • Trauma & loss – (every Israeli and Palestinian has “lost” someone)

  • Injustice

  • Inequality

  • Greed

  • Ignorance

  • Tribal religion

  • Fundamentalism

  • Fear for survival

  • Political leadership

  • “Other” and the nihilism, cynicism and cultural structure that creates it

  • Charisma – and power – for negative as well as positive impact

  • Media and its “TMI” Violence

  • Chronic discouragement

DOES THIS LISTING IMPLY THE NEED FOR SYSTEMS CHANGE?

We then listed the projects we have engaged with or been made aware of – those attempting to recognize and respect the “other” and asked what others do we need to affiliate with? What is missing from the list below, particularly in the broader context of the Middle East?

PARTICIPANTS

Dulce & Michael Murphy

Joe Montville

Ruth Friend & Jim Hirst

Benina Gould

Carol Miskel

Evelyn Messinger

Kim Spencer

Anisa Mehdi

Yoav Peck

Tamar Miller

Huda Abuaquob

Souli Khatib

Ginger Thomson

Mariah Nimmons

Nancy Lunney & Gordon Wheeler (1 day)

George Farrar (two evenings)

Jane Hartford (1 day)

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