Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Spirit of Hope, Wiesel & Rushdie & interesting questions

On Monday evening this week, I attended the Spirit of Hope benefit where Salman Rushdie and Elie Wiesel discussed a variety of questions related to freedom, hope and peace. Rushdie made points that I believe to be true. He said, "We all live in and through and by telling stories."

Because of this, he also said that the first victim of a dictatorship is language. Dictators know that power means the ability to change the stories people tell.

Wiesel made a related point. He said that there was no point in pressuring Israel because the Jews, as a people, can withstand pressure. He said they have less resistance to seduction.

The implication is that there are at least two ways to change the stories people tell, and one of them is harder to resist. No one at the Spirit of Hope picked up on this thread and applied it to other stories that need to change if the world is to find a measure of peace in the Middle East. No one said that the answer to Iran and Palestine is seduction.

And yet, the stories of Iran and Palestine must change if the world is to find hope in the Middle East. And seduction seems to have helped elsewhere. Seduction - the potential for prosperity and pleasure - lures young people away from suicide (whether it comes through gangs or drugs or terrorism). Seduction - the ability to offer to replace pain with pleasure - is hard to resist.

What are the arts of seduction? Maybe it's time to study them more carefully.

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