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A Modest Proposal

By Remy Benoit

The world is filled with "trouble spots," a euphemism for a place where there are many problems both internally and externally, and where everyone involved knows definitely that they are in the right.

The news feeds us sound bytes, throws generalities at us, showers us in glitz, hyperbole, and half statements, and the ever present sexual inuendo when, and wherever, possible.

It most definitely does not ground the current in the study of the past of all sides involved and how they have interacted and are interacting.

In a democracy it is incumbent upon us to be informed voters, and yet so much comes at us so fast that to aspire to even touching the robes of the proverbial Renaissance man as to his depth of knowledge on a wide variety of subjects leaves us breathless with angst and feelings of inadequacy. And, gee, isn't it easier to just push buttons on the remote and complain that "they" don't know what "they" are doing. Well, hey, "they" are doing it your name.

Okay, so we have more come at us in a week, perhaps even a day, than most people who have lived through the centuries had come as "outside" information throughout their lives.

Whether the term "global" makes you grimace or smile, the reality is that the world does get smaller everyday; that we become more interdependent for survival both as people and as a planet. The time for "them" and "us" is rapidly fading away and is being replaced with the reality that we must learn to share the planet with a beginning of thinking of it as a whole rather than each of our prize little pieces.

Yet how do we begin to even get a handle on so much of "it," when "it" is overwhelming in itself - each crisis, new and ongoing, filled with so much on each side, in the middle, and from outside.

We do it, like we do any other job, a piece at a time. If I want to make onion soup, I do not stand at my stove, put a pot down, and chant "Onion soup." I bring to the stove the stock I have already made; I chop the onions, chop the herbs; add the wine,grate the cheese, etc. piece by piece, and then I rely on both my attention to it so it doesn't burn, and to the stove that I not allow it to get too hot, to become a "trouble spot"; and, of course, pot handles turned in to protect the little ones if any should be about.

Okay, GUILTY, I am a history teacher, through and through, and I truly believe we would not jump into the soup pot ourselves, or throw our kids in to be consumed in the flames of war, if we stood back and thought and researched, and said, "Hey, what is this REALLY about, and how can we ACT rather than RE-ACT.

If you think about it, really think about it, re-acting usually consists of striking back in one way or another.

Ask yourself how much do you REALLY know about "THEM" in any time period during your life when you were told THEY were out to get you. You were told they were "evil," thought, prayed, believed differently than you do, and thus, of course, you are right, and that renders them wrong. But somewhere in there was there a possibility of common ground, perhaps, the human condition if nothing else, that might have been used, had there been such a facility, as a place to really open a dialogue.

Oh, gee, that might mean we need to learn more of each other's languages and customs, beliefs, and practices. Hum? School? K-12? Maybe a good place to start with what I call the Three C's: Cooperation; Communication; and Compassion.

So, your "homework" should you like to try to learn something about "them" out there somewhere, is to click on a Search Engine, type in a name of some place you heard about sometime during your life, and find out something about them. If you gave that "assignment" 5 minutes a day for the next two weeks, you just might find that you have a whole lot more in common with "them" than you thought you had.

I would so much like to hear what you find when you start digging in the archaeology of our time on this planet.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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