Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘sociology

A marketing lesson from the apocalypse

It is strange but true: Almost all apocalyptic predicators in the last four decades are generated in the USA, with rare exceptions.

The American evangelist Harold Camping, 80 year-old, was baffled that his prediction of the second coming of Jesus failed in May 21:  He had spent $140,000 on distributing panels all over the world.  Harold, the telepredicator, is unphased: “My fresh computations are reporting the event to October 5.” 

A follower of Camping, Keith Bauer, travelled 4,830 kilometers to California, to join Harold on a mountaintop, for the great expected trip to paradize!

Do you recall the Davidian followers who died in Waco (Texas)?  They gathered to wait for David Kuraich’s prediction of the coming of Jesus.  Members of another cult drank poison in California to reaching heaven on a predicted date.  Almost 900 members of an American cult were found dead in Brazil, in anticipation of the date of the second coming… and on.

Two years ago, members of Russian cult deliberately confined themselves in caves for 6 months, expecting the coming:  They ran out of food and water and had to emerge to the daylight.  Their guru didn’t join their craziness, but the Russian government sent him to an asylum facility.  I am wondering:  Why the US is failing to send all their doomsday predicators to prison?  Is predicting a second coming part of freedom of expression or predicators are eligible to doing profitable business out of the candid fright of the cult members?

Seth wrote: “How does one market the end of the world? After all, you don’t have a big ad budget. Your “product” is something that has been marketed again and again through the ages and it has never worked. There are significant peer pressures not to buy it…

And yet, every time, naive people succumb. They sell their belongings, stop paying into their kid’s college fund and create tension and despair.

Here’s the simple lesson:

Sell a story that some people want to believe. In fact, sell a story they already believe.

The story has to be integrated into your product. The iPad, for example, wasn’t something that people were clamoring for… but the story of it, the magic tablet, the universal book, the ticket to the fashion-geek tribe…there was a line out the door for that. The same way that every year, we see a new music sensation, a new fashion superstar. That’s not an accident. That story is just waiting for someone to wear it.

And the some part is vital. Not everyone wants to believe in the end of the world, but some people (fortunately, just a few) really do. To reach them, you don’t need much of a hard sell at all.

Too often marketers take a product and try to invent a campaign. Much more effective is to find a tribe, find a story and make a product that resonates, one that makes the story work.

That’s the whole thing. A story that resonates and a tribe that’s tight and small and eager.  I hope you can dream up something more productive than the end of the world, though.”

No need to breath freely: We still have to cross safely the doomsday prophesy of 2012.  There is no need to despair:  It cannot resolve the climatic changes and the poisons in Earth fresh water rivers, or the dwindly of fresh water supplies.  Mankind needs to get his collective intelligence together and unite against the elite oliogarchies around the world.

The voices of Arab Spring uprising: They have been sounding for decades!

For three decades, hundreds of “Arab” authors have been publishing poignant novels, describing accurately and harshly the social and family conditions in their particular countries.  Wrong! The intelligentsia and public activists have been very engaged: It is the world community that was ignoring the upheaval among the youth of the Arab World, by not getting committed in translating the works extensively.

You hear that foreign politicians were taken aback by this “Arab” mass upheavals, and are unable to comprehend the new dynamics.  It has been proven that novels and stories (narratives in movies and documentaries) are the best medium to break through “cognitive dissonance”, which  totalitarian regimes and media oriented “democratic” regimes educate citizens on the proper political positions to taking. 

The “Arab” masses have been liberated from their despotic indoctrination and they assimilated the indignities that novels have been sharing and exposing clearly, boldly, colorfully, and brightly.

Before mass printing in the 20th century, people mass uprising needed a century of novel swapping to understanding the big picture.  Nowadays, a decade is enough to getting people up in arms and demanding regime change.  What the politicians could not comprehend is “How many of these changes happened by peaceful means of mass determination”.

You might hear skeptics saying: “Any Arab author could not expect more than 3,000 books to be purchased, much less to be read.  How can you account for the masses to have assimilated the problems in their countries?” 

First, maybe entire books are not read, but essential extracts are disseminated on the internet.  Second, people know their own situation: All they need is to hear that someone else is sharing their plight by telling their stories. I guess that is what I have been doing in the last three years: I have been reviewing books and commenting them in my blog; you may check my category Book Review, of hundreds of translated manuscripts from Arabic, French, and English.

The first novel of the Libyan Hisham Mattar “In the country of men, 2007)” is about a young boy who lived during the Qadhafi regime in the 1970’s, in the shadow of the “Guide”.   The father, an opposition personality is sent to jail, never to reappear.  The second novel of Hisham “Anatomy of a disappearance, 2011” recounts the story of Nouri El Alfli, a young boy of 12 year-old, who fled with his family from Tripoli (Libya) to Cairo in the 70’s.  The young boy recollects his love for Mona, an Anglo-Egyptian, that he met with his father in Alexandria.  Mona was to become his step-mother.  Nouri had this Oedipal rivalry with his dissident father relative to Mona.  The father is kidnapped by the Qadhafi security in Cairo, and Nouri is never to see him again.  The story is how sadness build an identity, how absence transforms relationship, and how loss in young age affects sexual behavior in adulthood. 

In this novel, Hisham Mattar celebrates the father who disappeared 21 years ago in Qadhafi jails and how despots ravage the normal lives of normal families and individuals, for “we cannot live outside History!”

Raja Alem, a female Saudi author, published “The pigeon collar” (Tawq al hamama).  This novel depicts the Sacred City of Mecca as a hotbed of delinquency and religious fanaticism, where foreign workers are exploited by the mafia of Real Estates development enterprises that are destroying historic quarters.  These stories are told in letters sent to her German lovers, another taboo of foreign relationship not appreciated by this Wahhabi obscurantist theocracy/absolute monarchy.

Mohammad Achaari is a Moroccan author: He published “The Arc and the Butterfly” (Al Qawss wa Al Farasha).  This novel treats the relationship between Islamism and terrorism from the perspective of their consequences on the lives of family members.  It is the story of a leftist activist who receive a letter from Al Qaeda informing him that his son is a martyr.  The father was under the impression that his son was studying in Paris  and not in Afghanistan, fighting with the Al Qaeda. How this revelation impacted on the family life, father and mother.

Raja Alem and Mohammad Achaar received the “Arab Booker” laureate of best Arabic book of the year by the International Award for Arabic novels held in Abu Dhabi this year.  For the last four years, the British Booker institute has been awarding prizes for best Arabic novels.

The three taboo themes of sexuality, politics, and religion are now wildly approached and dissected in Arabic novels.  The government censure is exacerbated by Islamist threats:  A situation that forces the Arab authors to publish in Europe, Russia, and the USA, and most of the time in foreign languages for wider dissemination.

In the last three decades, Arab authors have been emulating the Soviet dissident authors and doing their best to break through tight censorship and rounding up of entire families for punishing a single author.  For example, the Lebanese author Hanane El Cheikh published “London my love” as a message to highlighting the divergences between western life-style and Arabic conditions and what our society lacks in means of reform and change.

You may read the novel of the Egyptian Alaa el-Aswany “The Yacoubian building”; the Libyan Ibrahim Al Koni “Gold dust” and “Angel, who are you?”; the Egyptian Ahdaf Soueif “Lady Pacha”, and many women authors from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen…

You may also read my post:

Note:  I translated part of an article in The Courrier International#1067

Who is this Lebanese? Who is the quirkiest specie of all?  Any rationale for society quirky behaviors?

Lebanon is the only State that kicked Israel occupation forces out of Lebanon without negotiation, or any preconditions.  And yet, you have got a bunch of Lebanese refusing to admit this fact.

Lebanon is the only State that defeated Israel in any war, specifically in 2006, and by the resistance forces, and Israel admitted its defeat.  And yet, you have got a bunch of Lebanese still very skeptical about this fact.

Worse, WikiLeaks published documents of what you cannot believe:  Pseudo Lebanese leaders begging the US and Israel to resume the war beyond 33 days, until Hezbollah is reduced politically and militarily. Why?  Because the political sectarian structure of Lebanon will eventually change.

No foreign armies, regional or not, have managed to occupy any portion of the land in Lebanon for any length of time.  And yet, you have a bunch of Lebanese pseudo-politicians and leaders, coaxing and begging foreign States to come in and occupy Lebanon; only to quickly change their decisions and turn against the occupying forces.

The State of Lebanon acquired such renown in instability and irrationality that no State is about to enter Lebanon or actively meddle in its internal affairs for any length of time.  And yet, you have a bunch of faked Lebanese leaders constantly roaming earth to get in contact with any stupid interlocutor, mediator… who has no idea where Lebanon is located and what this weird Lebanese is talking about.

The bored Lebanese faked politicians want to  snatch any kind of recognition, while foreign politicians are running away from this unwelcomed quirk intruder:  The foreign politician is screaming: “Get away from me.  I have a handful of problem to resolve.  I am in no mood to untangle a truckload of your impossible problems.”

We had a civil war that lasted 17 years (1975-1992) and we ended up with 20 versions of what caused the war

18 versions corresponding to the 18 recognized religious sects and two versions for the two secular political parties, mainly the Communist and the Lebanese-based Syria National Social Party.

Worse, after the civil war officially ended with no victors, every war-lord was appointed deputy in the Parliament and offered a ministerial portfolio, as a recompense for a job well done.

These war-lords as still in the government and their extended family members are deputies.  Not a single war-lord apologized for any wrong doing:  Every year, each war-lord celebrates His “Fallen martyrs“, and the government (President, PM, and Chairman of the Parliament) send their official representatives to the ceremony.

We don’t even know an adequate approximate numbers of the dead, the injured, and the disappeared.  You hear that 200,000 died (more than 15% of the population).  With such number of dead casualties, it is normal to estimate that 600,000 were injured.   Not a single war-lord dared give location of the mass graves in his “canton“.

What is this “let bygone be bygone?”  The same war-lords issued a law in the Parliament for amnesty to all criminals!

For example, there are over 70,000 Lebanese living in Ivory Coast and making a living.  Ivory Coast has been in trouble for over three years now, and the latest election took place a year ago.  We all knew that eventually the civil war will escalate.  Many Lebanese returned for vacation and then returned to their work in Ivory Coast.

You are wondering: “Why this Lebanese didn’t decide to return to Lebanon for good?”

And the answer is basic: “What can they do and work in this non-State of Lebanon?”  Whatever enterprises that already exist are monopolized by elite classes of merchants, feudal lords, new real estates developers, and their extended clan and family members of these well-established oligarchy.

Any Lebanese returning home has to start from scratch and be ready to lick asses in order to have any facility to open an enterprise.

Ask any Lebanese who returned whether he managed to start a business in this non-State of Lebanon!  The Lebanese immigrants are willing to take dangerous choices instead of contemplating a stupid return to Lebanon.

Every generation demonstrated massively for reforms of this archaic political and social system, and failed miserably:  Every generation saw The System creating a civil war to delude any worthy reforms .

The current new generation has been at it, consistently and with more determination.

The youth is demanding the Impossible:  The youth want to earn a citizenship!

The youth want to know that they have erected a State that represents their identity and their dreams for a sustainable Lebanon.

Is Lebanon a Multi-Theocratic State: Are Lebanese that religious?

Nine weeks ago, the clerics of the Sunni Moslem sect in Lebanon gathered in a general session to admonish the newly appointed Prime Minister Mikati to abide by the revised political guidelines.  Is that a form of democracy?

The clerics of this sect were convened by Saad Hariri PM who was fired by 11 ministers from his post.  It appeared to Hariri that being fired was an incomprehensible practice:  He believed that since he is a Saudi citizen then he should be viewed as a Saudi monarch Prince or something…

The clerics and bishops of the Maronite Christian sect meet regularly to remind the President of the Republic and the Maronite deputies in the Parliament of their Church political orientation.  Is that a kind of Republic system?

The Maronite  clerics alienated more than half the Maronites by siding with particular sectarian political parties and getting deeply involved in State politics.

The clerics of the Shia Moslem sect meets regularly to regurgitate the position of Hezbollah political stands.

Actually, it is the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasr Allah (who combines the spiritual and temporal powers under the Iranian concept of “Wilayat Faqih“), who draws the strategic and tactical moves for the Shias in Lebanon.  Is that a new concept of Parliamentary system?

In the 1980’s, the Lebanese were on their knees: Israel occupied most of the south region and Syria the remaining parts.  Lebanon was divided into self-autonomous sectarian cantons due to the consequences of the protracted civil war that started in 1975 and the massive transfer of citizens.

The new Islamic regime in Iran that displaced the Shah extended a fresh Shia religious fervor to the Shias in Lebanon, along with training, organization, and arms to resisting Israeli occupiers.

Israel was forced to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000, unilaterally and no negotiation, after suffering determined resistance from Hezbollah. Hezbollah resistance in 2006, to yet another Israeli preemptive incursion, and winning the war offered Lebanon a deterrence leverage that was lacking for decades.

Should Hezbollah continue adopting religion as the main ideological force to resisting the enemy Israel?  And for how long?  Should Nasr Allah keep his position for life as a religious leader too?  Should Lebanon remains a sectarian State for another century?

There are plenty of disinformation related to Lebanon’s social and political structure.

There is a vast chasm between what is written in the “Constitution” and what is and has been practiced for over 70 years, since the independence of Lebanon in 1943 and recognition as a State by the UN in 1946 (2 years before the recognition of Israel).

Lebanon is a feudal, sectarian, and tribal society governed by feudal, sectarian representatives of warlords, wealthy families and old money class.  The feudal class inherited their titles of Emir, Pasha, Bey, Sheihk…from the Ottoman Empire as heads of tribes sided with the Ottoman invaders and presented another form of “loyalty” to obscurantist caliphates.

France confirmed the rooted sectarian division during its mandated power from 1919 to 1943, and much longer after the independence of Lebanon, by instituting the Christians as the ruling class and enjoying privileges in power and in trade.

Should the Lebanese wait 9 months every time a new Sunni Prime Minister has to form a government in order to satisfy 18 recognized sects, six regional powers, and five superpowers?

This month, the youth in Lebanon started mass demonstrations, regularly, every week, demanding that religious affiliation be cancelled from all official documents.  The youth are engaged in sit-ins in many cities demanding civil marriage and reforming genders discriminating laws.  The youth have been chanting: “We want to change the regime

Are Lebanese that religious?

They are governed by religious appointed “leaders”.  The youth are entangled in a hellish cycle of religious interests, restricted in sectarian enclaves; each sect established its own private schooling system, health and social security facilities…

The youth want to get rid of a century of indignity and chattel mentality.  They want a political system that transform all the private sectarian facilities to the control and evaluation of a civic State, and the dissemination of a civic orientation and education.

The youth of Lebanon are going to maintain and sustain the mass upheavals in the Arab World because their programs for reform and change are linked and rooted to all the in-depth reforms aspired by youths in the other Arab States.

The youth of Lebanon are shouldering the difficult and protracted long-term changes needed in developing countries.

State mocking us:  What is “Cultured my ass” Lebanese?

There are plenty of disinformation concerning the Lebanese people.  It is time to get outraged and discuss exaggerated misconceptions disseminated about Lebanese in general, and particularly how our governments mock our fantastic characteristics.

They say: “The Lebanese is proud”.  Proud my ass.  For over 70 years, the Lebanese have been treated as chattel: Individuals and entire communities were treated as bulk and traded to a feudal “leader” here or a sectarian warlord chief there.  Proud my ass.  The Lebanese ended up behaving with chattel mentality at every election:  A people indifferent, apathetic sheep following in Indian file, behind medieval-minded “leaders”.

They say: “The Lebanese is smart”.  Smart my ass.  The Tunisian is smart: He overthrew the Ben Ali dictator regime and dismantled the oligarchic political apparatus.  Not a single figure from the old system is represented in the current government and previous practices of State Security laws went down the drain.

The Egyptian is smart:  He wiped out the Mubarak regime and displaced all the old political and administrative figures. He devastated the State Security centers that humiliated and heaped indignities on him for four decades.  The Libyan, the citizen in Bahrein, in Yemen, in Oman are catching up at the speed of a bullet train.

They say: “The Lebanese is cultured”.  What is “Cultured my ass?” Is babbling in three languages and inserting words in three languages in a single sentence a measure of culture?  How about a demonstration of ignorance in three languages?  How about incoherence in expressing in one system of language, its rich meanings and traditional texture?

Cultured my ass.  Knowing a language is being able to read and comprehending a language in the original version:  If you hate to read and never read anything of value, or cannot understand a complicated paragraph then, how being cultured is defined?

A century ago, the educated Lebanese mastered the languages they learned, but first mastered the Arabic language:  They emulated the Renaissance Man with their polyvalent knowledge.  When they immigrated, they carried on their education tradition and were on the forefront of reforms, teaching, publishing, and changes.

Cultured? Get out of it.  You don’t want to be visiting Lebanon prison system. You don’t want to be entangled in our legal system.  You don’t want to feeling frustrated with our gender discriminating laws.  You don’t want to read about the horror stories of maltreatment of “imported” foreign maids.  You don’t want to be a poor visitor or a “non-western” tourist.  Even Israel, the worst apartheid State system, now and then feels ashamed of its policies.  We don’t:  We prefer to amass our dirt under the carpet, out of procrastination and indifference.

They say: “The Lebanese is skilled”  Skilled my ass. I am not aware of valid technical schools in Lebanon.  Skilled people are imported from Syria and Egypt.  Find me a plumber, an electrician, or any worthwhile skilled artisan in Lebanon who is less than 65 years of age.  “Modernity” has displaced family artisan heritage and no “ancient monarchs” are demanding work of arts from Lebanese skilled workers.

They say: “The Lebanese is versatile in knowledge”.  Knowledgeable my ass.  I have taught in Universities and I don’t recall students graduating in rationality, scientific, or critical thinking.  They graduate as the staunchest supporters of this feudal and sectarian system.  How can you use a graduate student who has no patience to study, make the effort to reflect, and invest time to acquiring knowledge by their own volition?

A month ago, youth in Lebanon have been demonstrating regularly every week, demanding change in the sectarian political system.  They want to cancel all mention of religious affiliation in all official documents.  They want civil marriage.  They want laws not discriminating on genders, religion… They want fair and equitable election laws representing all classes and citizens.

The youth in Lebanon want to reverse this trend of ill-cultured conditions, falsehood misinformation, and humiliating situations.

The People of every nation forms an advanced collective intelligence: The People has the best intelligence gathering network for accurate and timely information, far better fine-tuned than the most sophisticated technology-based systems of superpower governments, even before the advent of social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook…There are no mysteries in events and communication taking place in a nation that is not known and sensed by the People.  Better, the People knows how to pick the right timing, the proper strategy, and the adequate level of energy to making headway to Victory for change and reforms.

There are common causes among the mass upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrein, Yemen, Iraq, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan…What is most interesting are the specific factors and causes for each revolution.

Consider the revolution in Libya against the dictator Qadhafi, who has been the sole power for 42 years.  The people in Libya were surrounded by two powerful neighboring dictator regimes in Tunisia of Ben Ali and, especially by Mubarak of Egypt, coordinating their activities and united against popular mass revolts.

Before the kicking out of Mubarak and Ben Ali, the people in Libya had no chance to a successful uprising and the people bid his time. Even now, the borders with Tunisia and Egypt are not fully opened and cooperating in “welcoming” the flux of thousands of refugees, of Libyans, and immigrants.Just imagine that these borders were totally closed and both armies in Egypt and Tunisia encircling the mass Libyan revolutionaries!

You have this tiny people of barely 5 million, spread in a vast State, vaster than Egypt and more than 4 times the area of France, advancing slowly but steadily toward the Capital Tripoli.

You have this tiny people of barely 5 million, who got hold of a few arms depots in the eastern provinces, before the regime dawned on it that this revolt is serious.  You have this tiny people of barely 5 million challenging a regime loaded with all kinds of sophisticated and lethal war machines imported from European States, and backed by accumulated wealth to buy mercenaries, not only from nearby African States such as Chad, Niger, Mali, Nigeria…but also from England, France, and Italy.

The latest news are showing English mercenaries fighting the people revolutionary forces and more pieces of intelligence will be forthcoming.  The western nations are doing their best to stall victory until they figure out a viable plan to get mandated power over Libya and its oil production.

The Arab League of States and the people in Libya are denouncing any foreign military interventions, and demanding only that the airspace be denied Qadhafi to bombing the marching people. The military “No Fly Zone” planned by the USA and the western power has not been readied yet, the space is still wide opened to Qadhafi, regardless of the “best intentions of the western States”.   But the US, France, England, and Italy are amassing their navy forces close to Libya, under the smokescreen of repatriating their citizens.

The people in Libya sensed, a decade ago, that Qadhafi is scared and has realized he lost his legitimacy and the trust and loyalty of his people.  Qadhafi had blatantly murdered and hanged publicly hundreds of citizens in universities and in prisons; mass killing of political prisoners and the gunning down publicly of soccer fans not supporting the team of one of Qadhafi’s son…  The people were resentful and was convinced that this regime is not representing their interests and has been harassing their security and the people was bidding his time.

For a decade now, Qadhafi has been bribing the western States with all kinds of give-aways in order to salvage his regime and the monopolies of his seven sons and his daughter Aicha.

Qadhafi simply raised both his arms in surrender to the western States:  He relinquished the nuclear research projects for nothing in return but to be admitted in the community of nations, resolving international court cases with billion of dollars, lavishly investing in Europe and the US, giving free rein to his sons to behaving as despots and out-ranking the Saudi “Royal Princes” in individual expenses  and luxury properties…

For a long decade, Qadhafi exhausted the Libyan people with outlandish wars in Africa and gave himself the title of “King of Kings of Africa”.  Libya suffered embargo for two decades that denied the people access to consumer goods, a policy that extended the life of this vicious regime.

What happened is that the sons of Qadhafi wanted a share in the pie and opened the market for consumer goods and each one of the sons had a piece of the various monopolies. The people of Libya got access to internet and sophisticated gadgets that linked them directly to the wide world.

The revolution in Egypt is the revolution of the century in quality (peaceful, non-violent) and long-term effects.  The Egyptian people managed to erase the last vestige of the old regime and today has invaded the centers of internal security machinery and dismantled this ghost of internal insecurity and indignity.

The revolution in Libya is the appanage of glory to tiny determined people.  The Libyan citizens have remembered the valiant resistance of Omar Mokhtar:  They can raise their eyes  toward the glorious sun and be counted.

Note:  A more valiant and determined revolution is taking place in Lebanon.  Ten of thousands are marching to dismantle the sectarian structure that the feudal and religious sects exploited for over 70 years.  The Lebanese want that the mention of religious affiliation be removed from all documents.  Civil marriage and equality in laws between genders are within reach.  The youth are willing and fearless in removing the sectarian mentality and tendencies from their behaviors.

Solving the communication conflict in the Middle-Eastern, or not. Part 1

The conversation is taking place at Zicco house, Beirut (Dec. 16, 2010. very late into the night).

Note: sections in parentheses are mine

A few had left the premises after a heart-warming dinner for the TEDxRamallah community.  We are sitting in a chaotic circle, we watch a TEDtalk courtesy of TEDxSKE, and a discussion starts. I’m confused; it sounds like it revolves around solving the middle-eastern conflict.

I sit back. I don’t interfere. I’m aware of the energies in the room. I’m aware of the emotions. I’m aware of the uncontrolled reactions. I say nothing.

I observe with a birds-eye’s view; completely disconnected from the conversation, yet completely immersed in the chemistry of the group.

A few try to put the discussion back on track, with little success. There are too much emotions involved.  Suddenly, a realization starts to seep into my awareness.

It’s only when the gathering ends, that this realization is complete: all arguments start before anyone begins talking.

This is what was happening: most of us believe that there can only be one truth around a specific topic.  Thus, whenever anyone in the circle starts talking, the rest expect to hear a truth.

Then, they took this truth and compared it with the truth stored in their archive.  If the expected pronouncement was a match, green light, they nodded; if it was a mis-match, red light, emotions rose, and they reacted uncontrollably: the truth they expected to hear turned out to be a lie, or even a personal insult.

This cycle of arguments was happening so often that there was no communication taking place. There they were, a group of people, all passionate about solving the middle-eastern conflict, yet unable to perform the most basic requirement in solving any type of conflict: they couldn’t communicate.  Why?

Very simply, because every time anyone talked, they expected to hear a ‘truth’. What’s the cure?

People don’t share truths: people share experiences, feelings, emotions, perceptions, thoughts, etc. and we can all agree that two people can have different experiences around the same topic (even if there can only be one truth).

This is what you can do: when someone talks to you, never expect to hear a truth, expect to hear an experience. In his way, what you hear will never clash with your archive of information, because you genuinely believe that both experiences can co-exist. your mind would still be receptive and open, your emotions would still be contained, and communication would still be possible.

This discussion would surely not solve the middle-eastern conflict, but it can definitely help in solving the communication conflict, middle-eastern or not.

Part 2: Solving the communication conflict, middle-eastern or not.

Myfutileblabs said:”[…] What you have said above, is quite difficult to do when you’re faced with people who would NOT reciprocate it. As in…I could see their view as what they FEEL to be true, but they would always believe their truth to be the ONE and ONLY truth. Makes it hard for me to be understanding. […] but I guess that’s pretty selfish of me isn’t it? I should be the understanding party to BE understanding….it shouldn’t be a bargain ‘I’ll be understanding if you are too’ […]”

So what do you do if you understand that people share experiences, not truths, but the other people don’t? They start the argument, they attack, and they refuse to listen? they shut you out.

For example, my brother and I were discussing relativism and that’s such a relative topic by itself, that disagreement is inevitable, except if you approach it this way:

My brother said “relativism is this…”

(Note: The brother was reading the book published by World Youth Alliance WYA, Track a Training for applicants to their training semester in New York.  This document included articles on Relativism written by William Gairdner who lambasted cultures and philosophical views that promoted a relative view of nature and mankind’s morality and ethical conducts; in a sense the WYA wanted to disseminate a particular ideology camouflaged under training sessions for training trainers for their ideology.  Applicants were to write articles based on the suggested pieces in the handbook and sending them to the center by email.  It happened that Cedric sent one of his articles that was counter to the ideological expectation of the WYA and was denied acceptance to the program after initially encouraging him.  I was present during the discussion of William and his younger brother and participated in the final few minutes)

I replied “I think you’re right, because I believe that different people understand realism differently depending on what they know about the subject, which definition they read, from which education and cultural background they come from, etc.  What I read and know about relativism gave me my own understanding of it. I feel relativism could be a label, understood differently by different people. I would usually try not to use labels, as they could lead to misunderstandings.

Instead, I prefer to explain the way I see things; to explain my own experience of things; just to prevent these labels from creating misinterpretations.  I believe that sometimes, a big percentage of the population can explain a label in the same way.  And for that group, they would have reached a common understanding. And i feel each should explain his understanding of the label, so that they can all agree that they understand it similarly, and also share it with those who have experienced it differently.

The way I understand relativism, which I’m sure is different from the way other people understand it, is this…” (I doubt that William has read any philosophical or articles pertaining to relativism in order to sustain an argument in that topic.  It does not matter: the point is how to turn a discussion around with pertinent questions in order to comprehend the other’s view and acquire an understanding of the topic for a friendly communication.)

Note that my brother started with ‘relativism IS…’ which was my cue.  It means (for me) that he believes he’s sharing a truth, not his understanding of the label, and that he’s also expecting to hear a truth in return. I could have very simply said: “no! that’s not relativism…” or “yes, but that’s not what it is…”

This kind of reply would have instantly created a clash in the mind of my brother:  he expects to hear a truth.

By taking the approach of the ‘yes-but’ or ‘no’ options, I would have also supported his unhealthy expectations, and made him believe that he is wrong, that I am right, and that I’m going to lie to him by telling him something that isn’t THE truth.

This instantly stops him from listening; this causes his brain to think of ways to fight back and attack, regardless of what I’m going to say next. even if I say ‘yes, but…’ and I just repeat exactly what his definition, he will answer back with ‘you’re wrong…’ and add something meaningless to his own definition.

So let me dissect my first reply to my brother, and explain why I believe it works:  it has proven to really work in 100% of the times I engaged in such situations so far.

I also have to mention that in most cases, only steps 1 through 5 are required. I’ve included 6 through 9 to cover some extreme cases of truth expectation, or when you have no idea how the other person will react. Use them as you see fit and never change the order.

That’s how I’ve experienced the mind to work, and this is the order that the mind generally responds to.  Here’s the dissection:

  1. ‘i think you’re right…’ this drops his defenses, and he’s ready to listen now, because he expects to hear a truth, and you just approved that what you will say will match his archive of truths; he can relax and listen now. notice I didn’t use the word ‘but’. because as a general rule, the way the word ‘but’ is perceived, is that it automatically deletes or negates everything before it. if I say ‘yes, but’, I just cancelled the yes. meaning that I just told my brother that he lied to me, because he told me the WRONG truth.
  2. ‘[…], because…’ after I told my brother that he’s right, the word ‘because’ creates curiosity. people love to know the ‘why’. they love to understand, and hear someone telling them ‘why’ they are right. this makes them 100% receptive to what you’re going to say next.
  3. ‘I believe that…’ now that my brother is 100% receptive, I switch his expectations from: ‘he’s going to tell me the REAL reason to why I’m right’ to: ‘he’s going to tell me why HE believes I’m right, which might or might not the true’. and since people love to be right, and I’m telling him why I believe he’s right, his mind will find ways to justify what I’m saying, and convince itself that what I’m saying is true.
  4. ‘different people understand things differently…’ here I give him the reason why he’s right. I’ve prepared his mind to convince itself that what I’m going to say is true. and this makes him accept that the way he presented relativism might be different from the way I will present it, AND it will not clash with his presentation, because each of us can understand it differently. this also justifies why he’s right. he’s entitled to his own explanation, and for him to remain ‘right’ he was to also allow me to be ‘right’.
  5. ‘I feel relativism is…’ this goes hand in hand with the expectation I planted in my brother, he expects my interpretation, I gave him something even better: ‘a feeling’. which is something more personal than ‘I think’, and it’s even more justifiable in his head that 2 people can completely feel 2 different things about the same topic.
  6. ‘[…] i would usually try not to use labels, as they could lead to misunderstandings, and instead…’ after setting up the stage to explain my experience of relativism, there’s one last vital thing I did before I actually shared my experience. I gently diffused his belief that a word has only one definition, and i de-associated the word ‘relativism’ from his definition of the word. I also called it a label. people generally agree that the same object can have many labels, and many objects can have one label. now he’s ready to listen to how ‘i’ label relativism, and he’s totally ok and even expecting it to be different from his label.
  7. ‘[…] my own experience of things, just to prevent these labels from creating misinterpretations, I believe that…’ here I’ve explicitly told him that I will share an experience, prepared him for one, and explained the consequences to expecting a truth. now it’s also important to keep reminding him that I’m sharing an experience. you can see the keywords that I used throughout my reply to do just that.
  8. ‘i believe […] a big percentage of the population can explain a label in the same way […] and reach a common understanding; and i feel each should explain his understanding […] so that they can all agree […] and also share it with those who have experienced it differently…’ here, I gave the mind of my brother a justification to this objection that he had: ‘but there are facts, truths, and these have nothing to do with how people perceive them!’ and since he still wants to be right, he will use the explanation that I just fed him to self-diffuse his own objection.
  9. ‘ […] the way I understand relativism, which I’m sure is different from the way other people understand it, is this…’ finally, I share my experience of the subject. without forgetting to remind him first, that I’m still sharing an experience. and that this experience might be different for every person.

Expect to hear an experience and prepare the other to hear an experience every time you engage in a discussion.

Now you can understand the mind; learn the steps, and you’ll be armed with one of the more powerful tools to deal with people who believe their truth is the only truth.

Now you can help solve the communication conflict, middle-eastern or not.

let’s all get together on April 16th, 2011 and really communicate and share. that’s when TEDxRamallah is happening in Ramallah, in Amman, and in Beirut.  (End of quote).

Note 1:  This post was extracted from articles published by my nephew William Choukeir as notes in two parts, related to conversations on solving the communication conflict.  You may read the notes integrally on

Since I am writing this post to add my comments and inputs then, I will take the liberty of editing and abridging sections for convenience and for the flow of my thoughts. Paragraphs in parentheses are mine.

Note 2:  You may read my full reply and comments on


Most probably you are not aware or you are not taking seriously the fact that everything you write, say, or move on social platforms (Tweeter, Facebook…) or on your portable phone is recorded and coded, second by second, somewhere in Big Brothers intelligence agencies on the superpower supercomputer intelligence gathering centers.  If you are connected and manages to secure clearances then, you may have access to your big file and write your diary and autobiography.  Big Brother can know you far better than you know yourself and his analysis is far more accurate and precise than your well-intentioned introspection work.  Big Brother is able to analyse your desires, your preferences, your best friends, and your potential enemies better than you can:  You are leaving behind you a numeric trace anytime you write, talk, or move.

Social scientists no longer have to run complex experiments on live subjects or handing out questionnaires and then collecting data.  Social scientists and research psychologists with access to valuable pieces of intelligence (research usually instigated by government and private enterprises linked to government) have located an inestimable trove of zillion of data.  Social scientists can now predict individual behavior and social behavior mathematically.  They can predict accurately the product and services that will enjoy great success within a week of its launching on the market.  They can predict election outcomes with great accuracy.  Social scientists discovered that with all our unpredictability we end up behaving in mathematical trends.  There is a breaking point in any trends when qualitative shift sets in instantaneously.  Movements start with individual liking and preferences and then peer pressures and mass communication decide on the outcome of a product, a service, or a candidate.  Social scientists track number of “buzz” generated by social platform users to comprehend social trends.

Before this outbreak of fast communication, social scientists felt the heat of being labelled as quasi-scientists; which means dealing in soft sciences that offer suggestions and options rather than accurate answers.  Since mankind has hundreds of variables to be controlled in order for any experiment to be valid and not ending up to have confounding results (results that hide the effects of pertinent variables that were not controlled) then, social scientists and psychologists had to run difficult and time-consuming experiments on hundreds of willing subjects and still feeling not satisfied with the results.

Now, social scientists can selected and stratify millions of data and still deal with enough cases that reduce hazard errors to the bare minimum.  Data is no longer the beast; the problem is how to access data without antagonizing Big Brother.

The only dilemma is: “How can we prevent the restauration of a police State?”  The police State has been around since antiquity and didn’t need so much data to institute efficient ideological political systems.  This new trend in instant communication is playing to the advantage of the common people in making a difference and preventing further exacerbation of policing mentality and trends.




October 2022

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