Why Being Human Matters for the People of Gaza and the World

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When Dr. Mona El-Farra, a medical doctor and associate of the Middle East Children’s Alliance, declared “We are human beings” to finish off her plea to stop the military assaults on Gaza, she drew attention to the people on Gaza who we seem to have forgotten in the debates and conflicts surrounding Gaza. The problem of forgetting the humanity of another is its resulting dehumanization. As Michael Nagler describes in  his book, The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action, the conflict itself is not a problem, but the degree of dehumanization which leads to increasing violence.

“How could one forget the humanity of another and what does it tell us about who we really are?” For insight into these questions, we might first explore the basic dynamic of conflict escalation …

In order to see human beings — to humanize — we need the conditions for it. When you think of human beings in the world, what do you see? Do you see a “friendly universe,” as Albert Einstein called it? He understood the utter practicality of this question, arguing that if we see an unfriendly universe, we see unfriendly beings living in it. In a dehumanized world of scarcity and competition we will use all of the tools and inventions we have to protect ourselves from one another. It’s hard in a world of separation to “remember your humanity and forget the rest,” as Einstein said. Why is that?

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