Thursday: 15.January.2004

Two Sides to Every Story

Yesterday's post, which referenced the French publication Le Monde diplomatique, generated a number of comments, not all of them nice as this one:

Wonderful. Iíve found yet another European publication that comments on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from a skewed mirror upon a celestial perch. No thanks, Rad. I prefer articles with a solid foundation in actual historic events rather than holier-than-thou rhetoric and biased ideals. I was hoping LMD would be a source of refreshment but it is yet another site that panders to the Arab/Muslim view of Israel. Thanks for the interesting source of this morningís error-riddled reads.

Unfortunately, this reader did not recommend a more enlightened publication. And I hasten to add that there's nothing intrinsically wrong with exposing yourself to positions and arguments with which you disagree. Personally, I find it helpful. There's an old adage that says: "God bless our enemies, for they tell us our faults."

First, let me say that I do not recommend LMD, specifically. As I stated, I was merely mentioning the two mailing lists I subscribe to, and that I feel those of us who reside here in the States, where the little guy has no control over the media, nor its content or expressed opinions, should expose and avail ourselves to non-US perspectives .. WHATEVER that source might be, in order to understand how the rest of the world feels about various topics.

Secondly, I freely admit that I am *not* well-informed on the subject of world politics, especially the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I mean, people much smarter than I (including several US presidents) have already tried to unravel that political rat's nest (and failed miserably).

Which is why you see no political-based guides here. I limit my comments to things for which I have first-hand experience. Want to know about the best way to partition a hard drive? Hey, I've done that many times. So I know what I talking about in that area. Want to know about ripping & encoding CD audio? What a coincidence! I've spent considerable time researching that topic.

I do however, have friends who spend considerable time (too much, IMO) researching the issues surrounding world politics, including the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I have seen them "go to work" at parties. They obviously know what they're talking about. They come armed with with more facts, dates, statistics and trivia that I care to clutter my brain with. Sometimes, they try to engage me in debate. I refuse. Why? Because I know that I am not informed in that area.

But I do know there have been times when our country voted *against* the rest of the world (including our friends & allies) on various United Nations resolutions. So it would *appear*, on the surface at least, that our political leaders might be taking an extreme position on certain issues. Note that I ascribe no "value" factor to whether our position was right or wrong (too complicated) .. only that it was *different* from that of the rest of the world. And naturally, being the curious fellow I am, find myself wondering, "How can this be?"

There are two sides to every story. If Mr. X has a beef with Mr. Y, and you listen to each person tell their side. The truth is likely to fall somewhere between the two extremes. Altho not necessarily in the middle.

In college, I had a Chemistry class with a beautiful, dark-haired girl. After class, we would go get a capuccino together at a coffe house up the road a ways. She was the sweetest girl you ever met. Truly a gentle creature. Intelligent. Hard-working.

Turns out she was a Palestinian who had grown up in Palestine. When I learned this, I immediately had a negative reaction toward her, as if she were somehow inherently a bad/evil person. Someone to be feared and suspected of subversion. Where did this prejudice come from? As we continued to chat over the semester, it was obvious that she did not fit my idea of what I expected a Palestinian to be like. On the contrary, I found her to be a beautiful, gentle soul.

Moreover, she had many first-hand stories to tell from her years of growing up there in the Middle East. Sad stories. Stories that would break your heart.

Might be worth noting here that I also have Christian friends who feel that WHATEVER Israel does is justified and right because of some special-divine-favor God bestows upon that nation. Now, since all people are human, and all humans are fallible, and fallible people make mistakes, I am inclined to belive that EVERYONE, including those in God-blessed nations, make mistakes .. yeh, even the most well-intentioned among them.

The point I'm making here is that there are two sides to every story, and it can be interesting and enlightening (fascinating, even) to learn what the other side is, and why they feel the way they do. Fortunately for us, the Internet now makes finding and learning these alternate perspectives easier by making the information more readily accessible (click). In an age where the Internet offers a truly global perspective, the national news media has become provincial.





Posted by Rad at January 15, 2004 03:14 AM

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Posted by: at January 16, 2004 08:33 AM