Most of you probably know what a Hamsa is. Right? For those who don’t; it is a good luck symbol, in the shape of a hand, which has been around as part of Arab and Jewish cultures for centuries. Most Hamsas feature an “eye” to protect us from the “evil eye.” And in recent times, a great many feature a “dove” to symbolize peace.
What would you say are the evils that we need protection from in this day and age? I would point to three in particular. Today’s evil is the evil of ideological extremism
. And I’m not just talking about extremist religious fundamentalism. I’m talking about all kinds of ideological extremes, including the belief that we should keep our economies running on fossil fuels, even at the expense of cooking ourselves to death. And so, a second evil is the threat to our environment
; a threat which is coming perilously close to destroying civilization as we know it. And a third evil is widespread poverty
, especially when the have-nots can easily see how the other half lives on their TV’s and their computer screens. Is there a way to protect ourselves from these evils? The Hamsa points the way.
As some of you know, I am a strong believer in Selling a Vision of Hope
, as the antidote to some of the insanity we see swirling about us. As you look at the five fingers of the hand of the Hamsa, think of the five aspects of Selling a Vision of Hope
, as featured on my website www.sellingavisionofhope.org
1. The thumb is for Ideology
: Instead of believing what you want to believe, start believing in what makes sense. Use an Ideology of Common Sense to speak to one another with Common Sense and with a sense of personal dignity.
2. The index finger is for Investment
: Use public and private funds to create an International Fund for Economic Development in the Middle East under the banner: “We stand ready to invest in you, if you are ready to invest in yourselves.” Invest in projects which inspire a sense of hope, which create jobs, and which protect the environment.” Convert oil profits into green profits, while neutralizing extremism with good paying jobs.
3. The middle finger is for Hope
: Use an Ideology of Common Sense along with some well placed Investment Dollars to Sell a Vision of Hope—a Vision of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom—on the Arab street, in the Muslim world, and in the world as a whole.
4. The ring finger is for Public Diplomacy
: Once you sell a Vision of Hope, you sustain the Hope by launching a series of Public Diplomacy Programs which are specifically designed to prop a Vision of Hope up, and to carry it forward, such as: a Media Campaign, a program to Empower Women, a Student Exchange, a Cultural Exchange, an expanded version of the Peace Corps, and a series of International Conferences.
5. The pinky is for the willingness to Fight
: When necessary, and it will be necessary, fight, and fight hard, against the forces of extremism, wherever they may be found, but position the fight within a Vision of Hope. Raise the fight on the ground to a higher moral plain by giving the fight a moral clarity of purpose. People will fight harder once they know what the hell they’re fighting for. We are not fighting a “war against terror.” We are fighting a war to realize a Vision of Hope. There’s a big difference.
That’s pretty much it. Now let me ask you this: If you want to give some substance to Selling a Vision of Hope
, what kind of project would you recommend? What kind of project would say to the world that a Vision of Hope could be made real if people choose to make it so?
Here’s one idea. See what you think. We get a consortium of Arab and Israeli businesspeople to build a factory on the West Bank. They get funding from Saudi Arabia, believe it or not. They hire and train local Palestinian workers to produce a product which is especially suited to protect the environment in some substantial way. For example, they could produce a long lasting battery to power cars. You pull into a gas station and switch out your battery, instead of filling up on gas. The research for this product comes from a leading university in Israel, or elsewhere, which specializes in green technology. The project is successful, and attracts worldwide attention and more money, for more projects, for more jobs, and for more eco-friendly products.
Why would the Saudis fund such a project, you may well ask, especially since it promotes green technology? Here are a few possible reasons: The Saudis could use some good PR for a change. They would be using oil profits to protect the earth, and to stabilize the region with good paying jobs. What a concept! They would diversify their investments, and make good money, by getting in on the ground floor of technology that the entire world wants and needs. Good jobs would help neutralize some of the ideological rhetoric, as in the case of China, and India. As people begin to make a living, and begin to imagine a better life, the allure of extremism will diminish. Business has a way of creating its own ideological imperative. Eventually, this effort could pave the way for substantive peace, not just BS, which would bless the House of Saud with a good measure of peace of mind. Everybody wins, even the earth.
Yes, it’s an ambitious project. Some would say close to impossible. But considering the alternative, what choice do we really have, but to try? This may well be the time, before time runs out, to dream the impossible, and to make the impossible come true.