"As man advances
in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities,
the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend
his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation,
though personally unknown to him. This point being reached, there is
only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the
men of all nations and races." --Charles Darwin, The Descent
"A human being
is part of the whole, called by us the 'universe,' a part limited in
time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as
something separate from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his
consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting
us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest
to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening
our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole
nature in its beauty." --Albert Einstein
When I was a little child, my mother taught me a very common (in the
United States) prayer to say at bedtime. It began: "And now I lay
me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep...." At the end
of prayer, as I was taught it, was the line, "God bless mommy,
daddy, Jerry, Alan (my two brothers), grammy, grampy, and make me a
happy, healthy boy. Amen." As I said the prayer to myself each
night, I began to think, "Well, maybe, I should include some other
relatives," and began naming them by name in the prayer. As weeks
and months went by, I began to add to the list, including friends and
others. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that it would be much simpler
if I just added the phrase, "and all the people in the whole world,"
to my mother's list. That realization, for me, was the germ of the concept
of "inclusive envisioning."
Inclusive envisioning occurs when people include the goals, aspirations,
and needs of others as they envision their own goals and aspirations.
It is very similar to what mediators and others often refer to as "win-win"
thinking about conflict, which involves a search for mutual gain as
opposed to assuming that all conflict is a "zero sum game" in which,
for one party to gain, another party must necessarily make an equivalent
sacrifice. Inclusive envisioning is an expansion of the notion of win-win,
and in addition to conflict situations is applied to all of one's life.
Inclusive envisioning involves two processes. First, it involves enlarging
one's vision to include wider and wider circles of people, including
one's opponents in conflict. Second, it involves the inclusion of others
in one's vision of the good.
Inclusive vs. Exclusive Envisioning
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be used to illustrate the dynamic
between inclusive and exclusive envisioning, between either/or and both/and
goal setting, between zero-sum and win-win strategic thinking. One way
to understand the Middle East conflict is as a contest between inclusive
and exclusive envisioning. At its best, the Oslo peace process between
Palestinians and Israelis was an example of inclusive envisioning. Prior
to Oslo, official Israeli and Palestinian (PLO) policies completely
denied the legitimacy of each others' nationhood. But, throughout the
Oslo process a growing acceptance by both sides of a "two-state solution"
to the conflict occurred. The two sides recognized each other's right
to legitimacy and began to view each other as "partners" in
a process of creating a peaceful Middle East. Though the peace process
was certainly flawed--Israelis continued to expand settlements in the
Palestinian territories and Palestinians continued to bomb Israeli buses,
shops and discos--the emerging paradigm shift toward inclusive envisioning
was clear, though current reversals have made it seem almost dreamlike.
If one reframes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of inclusive
versus exclusive envisioning, one begins to see that the interests and
perspectives of those on both "sides" of the conflict who are able to
view its solution inclusively are closer to their counterparts on the
other side than to those within their side who cannot conceive of an
inclusive solution to the conflict. For example, in this vein the Palestinian
Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas can be seen as closer politically
in their vision to the Israeli religious and political right than they
have been to the Palestinian Authority. Similarly, in their inclusive
envisioning, the Israeli peace movement is more similar politically
to the most democratically oriented and pro-peace elements among the
Palestinians than they are to the Israeli religious right settler movement.
To give more specific examples, Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb
Erekat and former Israeli government minister and negotiator Yosei Beilin
are closer in outlook to each other than either is to Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon or Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.
The historical political dynamic within and between the "two sides"
can also be seen in this light. For example, the Hamas bombings in Israel
prior to the 1995 Israeli election furthered Israeli public support
for the Likud party's stance against the peace process, and the loss
of Yitzchak Rabin at the hands of an Jewish Israeli religious fundamentalist
sealed the election. More recently, the "second intifada (uprising)"
that rejected the outcome of the Camp David meetings in July, 2000,
helped give rise to the election of Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli
prime minister, whose repressive policies have further strengthened
Hamas, at the expense of the Palestinian Authrority.
No Middle East
issue more clearly demonstrates the potential of inclusive envisioning
than that of the status of Jerusalem. Israeli political parties across
the spectrum subscribe to the indivisibility of Jerusalem and the impossibility
of ever allowing the city to be divided as it was between 1948 and 1967.
At the same time, Palestinians are unanimous in considering Jerusalem
to be the capital of an eventual Palestinian state. These fundamentally
conflictual positions would seem to constitute an impassable barrier
to peace between the parties.
There are those, however, who have applied inclusive envisioning to
this conflict and derived a potential solution that would conceivably
satisfy the fundamental needs of both parties. A three-day conference
of Israelis and Palestinians held in 1993 addressed a "Two States, One
Holy Land" framework for peace drafted by John Whitbeck, an international
lawyer. The framework provided for joint sovereignty over Jerusalem
administered by an umbrella municipal council and local district councils.
(Whitbeck, 1998) Jerusalem, in international legal parlance, would become
a "condominium" of Israel and Palestine. Joint undivided sovereignty
and administration of the city, Whitbeck argues, is legally parallel
to joint undivided ownership of property by a husband or wife: "While
sovereignty is commonly viewed as the state-level equivalent of ownership,
joint undivided ownership of land or a house (between husband and wife
or, through inheritance, among distant cousins) is scarcely uncommon.
Such joint undivided ownership is clear as a matter of law and comprehensible
as a matter of practice. Joint owners must determine how their common
property is to be administered." Further, Whitbeck points out, there
is historical precedent for condominium sovereignty: the city of Chandigarh
is the joint undivided capital of two neighboring Indian states, and
Sudan was a condominium of Britain and Egypt, officially named "Anglo-Egyptian
Sudan," for half a century prior to its independence in 1956.
The condominium approach to Jerusalem is just one of many creative possible
inclusive solutions for the Middle East conflict that could be viable
given sufficiently visionary Palestinian and Israeli leadership. Another
example of people beginning to live an inclusive vision of the Middle
East is the community of Neve
Shalom / Wahat al-Salam, which means "Oasis of Peace"
in both Hebrew and Arabic. Located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, this
intentional community of Palestinian and Jewish Israeli citizens demonstrates
the possibility of peaceful coexistence between the two peoples. The
community runs a School
for Peace, which conducts outreach educational activities, including
Jewish-Arab dialogue workshops. To date, more than 25,000 Palestinians
and Israelis have participated in School for Peace programs.
the End of the Cold War
The end of the Cold War provides another example of the difference in
perception involved in inclusive versus exclusive envisioning. It has
often been repeated that the United States and its Western alliance
"won" the Cold War through an arms buildup that the Soviet Union could
not match. Such claims ignore the enormous importance of Gorbachev-era
Soviet policies of glasnost, perestroika and "new thinking" in international
relations that played the decisive role in bringing about the Cold War's
demise. As Gorbachev has written, modestly downplaying his central role
in those historic events, "President Bush has again said that the United
States won the Cold War. My reply to this would be that the long years
we spent plunged in the Cold War made losers of us all. And in our own
time the world's rejection of confrontation and hostility has made us
all winners." (Gorbachev, 1992)
By adopting policies that democratized the Soviet Union and which did
not seek to impose its will by force over the nations that comprised
it and its Eastern bloc sphere of influence, Gorbachev loosened the
reins of control that allowed the Soviet bloc to disintegrate largely
nonviolently. His philosophy of "new thinking," outlined in his book
Perestroika, recognized the futility of the nuclear arms race
and led to the creation of an arms reduction negotiating strategy that
resulted in major progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons,
and thus was the other central piece that allowed the Cold War to come
to an end. (Gorbachev, 1987: 133-253)
Failure to recognize the central role of Gorbachev's political philosophy
of glasnost, persestroika, and "new thinking" in bringing about the
end of the Cold War is a misinterpretation of history that does not
allow us to understand the full meaning of one of the most significant
historical demonstrations of the potential of inclusive envisioning.
As Richard Falk notes, it also represents a series of lost opportunities
that might have dramatically changed the course of history: "Gorbachev's
'new thinking,' if it had been matched or adopted in the West (during
the 1980s), might have had an extraordinary demilitarizing impact: it
might have moved close to the achievement of a world without nuclear
weaponry, established in practice policies associated with 'comprehensive
security' or 'common security,' and set in motion a powerful demilitarizing
dynamic that would have included strengthening the United Nations and
enhancing respect for the World Court and the rule of law in international
relations (all Gorbachev-era policies)." (Falk, 1995: 220)
of All Humanity
At its outermost limit, inclusive envisioning involves working for the
welfare of all. It means seeking the goal of what social theorist Buckminster
Fuller called "omnisuccess," or "the success of all humanity." (Fuller,
1981: 199) It means working for universal human rights, and rejecting
any philosophy that proclaims some lives to be more important than others,
whether on the basis of religious beliefs or the advancement of the