I am so impressed–so incredibly impressed–with Jimmy Carter, who is living the New Spirituality. And I am impressed with Jonathan Tasini, too.
Who in tarnation is Jonathan Tasini? His official bio says that he is the executive director of Labor Research Association. For the past 25 years he has been a union leader and organizer, a social activist, and a commentator and writer on work, labor and the economy.
He is also a commentator on The Huffington Post, one of the most astute and clear-headed of the now-thousands-of political and events-of-the-day blogs on the Internet.
I am the author of a series of books known as the Conversations with God series. This series explains and encourages what I have come to call the New Spirituality. Among other things, it teaches that there are no villains and no victims in the world, that there is no such thing as “right” and “wrong,” and that we are all One.
It also says that if we acted as if we were all one, most of the ills of human society would disappear over night.
Now today comes news that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has just spoken to leaders of Hamas, the social political movement in Palestine that President Bush and others have labeled a terrorist group, and that those leaders have told him that Hamas would accept Israel’s right to exist in peace as a neighbor if the Palestinian people, in a general referendum, agreed.
Let me quote the former President directly, because this is an important topic. Said Mr. Carter after his talks with Hamas…
CNSNews.com reports that Carter told diplomats and journalists in Jerusalem: “They (Hamas) said that they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 border if approved by Palestinians and that they would accept the right of Israel to live as a neighbor next door in peace, provided the agreements negotiated by Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert and President Abbas were submitted to the Palestinians for their overall approval — even though Hamas might disagree with some terms of the agreement.”
Shortly thereafter the Associate Press ran a story, published in the International Herald Tribune, in which is described a spokesman for Hamas as saying that Hamas “won’t necessarily accept the results of any Palestinian referendum on peace with Israel.”
So there is confusion today on just exactly what kind of progress–if any–has been made by the Carter talks. But I want to focus, just for now, on the fact that those talks even took place.
As you must surely know, U.S.President George W. Bush vehemently opposed Carter talking to Hamas leaders in Damascus, and publicly asked the former President not to have those conversations. Some 50 members of Congress–both Republicans and Democrats–also asked Carter not to go. Carter went to Damascus anyway.
What we need in this world right now are political and public opinion leaders who we willing to do just what Carter has done. Talk. And not just talk with people who agree with us, but with those who don’t.
Which brings me to Jonathan Tasini. The commentator publicly thanked Carter in his posting today on The Huffington Post, noting that President Carter “is carrying on a simple idea put forth by none other than Moshe Dayan, the Israeli general/politician who is so revered in the U.S…”
Dayan, Tasini reports, famously said: “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”
I want to talk more about this in the days ahead. For now, may I observe that there is one presidential candidate who caught some flack a few months back for saying almost exactly that? He said he would not hesitate for one minute to sit down with the president of Iran within days of his inauguration to discuss, face-to-face, the differences between our two countries.
One of his opponents in this campaign season said that such a direct conversation with never take place until there were long talks at the staff level between representatives of the two countries and it was clearly agreed upon ahead of time what the talks would entail.
Yes, yes…old time diplomacy. Old time Washington. Old world politics.
What we need here in the middle of our global nightmare is a fresh new way of doing things. The way of Jimmy Carter. The way of Barack Obama.
As Jonathan Tasini said in his entry at the Huffington Post: “The idea that you make progress towards peace by refusing to talk to your adversary, as belligerent and threatening as they might be, is childish, idiotic and just plain dumb.
“I’ve never quite understood the notion that you boycott talking to somehow until they agree to your conditions–and maybe that would make me a bad diplomat.”
It might, indeed, Jonathan, but it could just make you a good peace maker.
Mr. Tasini concluded his commentary with this: “I wanted to just give thanks–on Passover–to President Carter who just wants to hear what people have to say. We should give space to people who explore conversations and seek to find common ground.”
I couldn’t have put it any better–which is why I didn’t even bother to try. Quoting Mr. Tasini hits the mark squarely enough. Thank you, sir, for our brilliant commentary. Thanks to the Huffington Post for publishing it. Thank you President Carter for sitting down and talking with those who others have called The Enemy. And thank you Barack Obama for saying that you would also, days after entering the White House.
This is what the New Spirituality is all about. As Conversations with God says: “No one does anything inappropriate, given their model of the world.”
More on all this in our next entry here.