Integral Practical: Integral Strategies for Middle East crisis – Don Beck’s Fresh Start Initiative – III

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This is a part of the series of posts titled, “Integral Practical” in which we discuss on practical, applicable and workable Integral strategies for existing problems in different parts of the world. The current post is Part III of the discussion on “Integral Strategies for Middle East crisis – Don Beck’s Fresh Start Initiative”. Part I and Part II of the discussion dwelt on the conflict between the Israelites and Palestinians and the immediate need for establishing peace in the region. Inspired from Don Beck’s “Hard Truths and Fresh Start” a thesis on how to achieve an Integral solution for the Middle East problem, this discussion features all the strategies, plans and ideas presented by Beck.

Potential of Beck’s Integral design: In Part I, Beck discussed on the Hard Truths that need to be identified and accepted by the two societies. Some of such hard truths are – 1. Leaders of the lands will not be able to find a peaceful solution to the crisis as they themselves are overcome by feelings of revenge, guilt and remorse. 2. Polarizing dynamics between two societies have to be addressed and eliminated. 3. The crisis is just a symptom that signifies a major global transformation – a shift from predator-prey relationship or feudal kingdom set up to a war against growing materialism of the developed countries. 4. “Demagogic leaders” often tend to exploit the ground situation in both the countries, resulting in tyranny, riots and more disruptions. 5. Biased media coverage of the Middle East unrest evokes further problems and feelings of revenge.

In Part II, we discussed on Beck’s hopes regarding the new Integral design, including its capacities to bring about a remarkable and positive change on both sides. Beck’s Integral design is what he calls the “Social Judgment/Involvement Approach” that would evoke an “Assimilation/Contrast Effect”. He has applied this to cleanse South Africa of its Apartheid issues. However, the current design has been modified to suit the Middle East topography and political climate and will “integrate” every other plan/suggestion offered so far – including the Camp David sessions, George Mitchell plan, George Tenet initiative etc.

Part II also listed out the capacities of the new design. Beck has prepared a confident Integral design that would work in a systemic way to go beyond Flatland stereotypes and explore and identify the deeper undercurrents of both the societies. Applying the Spiral Dynamics concept, the design would allow people to identify value memes of both the communities, their social, religious and moral interactions etc. Next, this new design will objectify history or past mishaps and miscreant activities and start afresh on finding a peaceful solution. Though this is a bit difficult, Beck opines that it can be done if we deal with “charges and counter-charges around guilt, blame, rage, and revenge”. The new design will also have the capacity to explore the human ecology – the economical, technological, cultural, social and political systems – of both the societies and how they work. There will be establishment of a “Third Win”, an ethical touchstone or a judgmental rubric which will offer a Third, rationale view of things when hard choices have to be made. As Beck reiterates time and again, the new Integral design for the Middle East will be a “full court press” strategy that would “work up- and down-streams, on symptoms as well as causes, in both preventative measures as well as therapeutic interventions.”

With Beck giving so much hope on the strategy, one would naturally want to know how different and “Integral” it is from the others. This post is on the exact strategy proposed by Beck and how the plan is to be implemented, what are the odds to be faced and how to solve crises during execution of the strategy etc.

Don Beck divides his strategy for the Middle East into two parts – A grand, broad strategy for long term and a short, “narrow focus” for the current crisis. Let’s look in detail on the long term strategy that has a broad focus view of both the states.

Fresh Start – For Long Term: Global Sapient Circles (GSC) are the key to long term progress and healthy development. GSCs will be set up comprising of individuals who will be able to offer a complete overview of the land, a cross section of all that is inherent and part of the Israeli and Palestinian communities. Inspired from Margaret Mead, Beck says these GSCs will work immensely to set things in order. In fact, Mead believed that such “wisdom circles” were formed during times of crisis and later disintegrated. It is these circles which help humans get through the “danger zones” safely. As Beck puts it, “These gatherings of the wise ones emerged naturally out of the crisis; they were neither imposed on humans nor did they posses the usual stagnating bureaucracies with political agendas. The Royal Society in the UK was one such sapient circle.”

What next after the formation of GSC? What will be the role of GSC and how will it operate? Beck has a cleanly chalked out plan. The GSC will be responsible for mapping out the “entire political, economic, psychological, and cultural landscape of that region, with a focus on (a) the nature of the habitat (water, soil, weather, etc.) and (b) a description of the modes of thinking that characterize the primary groupings.” This will include everything from the political systems to cultural memes to internal value systems etc. All of the data will be translated into a “Vital Signs Monitor” in order to provide decision-makers with valuable tips on the cultural/social/political climate of the region they are dealing with. This is basically about detecting the value systems of the MassMind, including detection of “various malignancies-in-the-making, or blockages in the natural flows, or growing deterioration or aging in any specific domain.” In fact, table top maps could be created on differences in value systems, social asymmetrics and other social and cultural elements that characterize the primary entities of violence and warfare.

Next, the Sapient Circles (SC) should be part of the design, which would concentrate on shaping the “natural habitats of people”. By natural habitats, Beck means the geographic, economic, social, political, environmental habitats of the people.  The Sapient Circles should ensure that the people of the region get a high quality of life. This would include mutual respect for the beliefs, cultural ideologies, holy rituals and value systems of both the societies. Value systems that generated prosperity on one side should not be ignored in the same way as the value memes that create deterioration should not be encouraged. The Sapient Circles should facilitate the cause of both the societies, a design for the whole region than for one community. Beck puts it in a rather specific way, “any intervention that is based on ignoring the established value systems that have generated prosperity on the Israeli side, would be rejected out of hand for the sake of the whole. But neither should deplorable conditions on the Palestinian side be tolerated, for they breed discontent and violence. SCs design for the sake of the whole.”

Similarly, investment of capital for the right causes should be advocated. It should be checked and cross-checked whether beneficiary plans reach people in need or are squandered by people in authority. In this way, Sapient Circles would keep a check on leaders who intend to facilitate their families through welfare funds from a global audience.

Beck, then goes on to explain the application of the technology of the Sapient Circles. Here’s a detailed overview on how to apply the SC strategy effectively:

Fresh Start – For Current Crisis: To address boiling issues at hand, Beck suggests formation of three different Sapient Circles: 1. Global Sapient Circle, 2. Design Sapient Circle and 3. Integral Sapient Circle.

Global Sapient Circle (GSC): The function of the Global Sapient Circle would be to cultivate long term growth. As Beck puts it, GSC would “facilitate the long-term awakening, emergence and integration of the Arab Tidal Wave into the planetary system.” Since the Arab community is a massive group which can become healthy or turn malignant, Beck considers it important to nourish the community and keep it at growth phase.

The GSC will deal with all the trends that rise from the formation of “Arab/Muslim/Islam Tidal Wave.” It will monitor all positive and negative currents in the societies, clearing out organizing principles that stimulate old ways of behavior and warfare. Beck opines that current hatred toward the materialist West is actually an expression of hatred toward the oil-rich groups of the home countries. These rich groups form the nerve centers of the Israeli land and when their freedom is hampered, they start the Battle of Armageddon again. So, any severe action can be taken out only after the “two ‘hot cells’ of belief and action be accommodated, defused, and insulated.” The global media, Beck opines, should cooperate in successful establishment of the GSC.

Design Sapient Circle (DSC): The Design Sapient Circle will layout the initial plans for establishment of the two-nation solution. It would take care of the social, physical, economical, cultural and environmental habitat of the people that would occupy the two states.

The DSC will have to comprise of experts in society building. Beck suggests that we form the DSC will sapiens from several sources: “(a) the technicians who have been close to the extended negotiation processes and know the details regarding many of the issues; (b) experts in economic development, nation building, and infrastructure development; (c) individuals with an understanding of how cultures form and interact; the nature of both internal and external dialogue; and the sensitivity to deal with anger, rage, and revenge.” These “back room engineers” will use all kinds of tools to map out the growth and development of both the societies in a span of 5 years and years to come. DSC would also engage in step-by-step wealth creation using a well-planned work model of the two states. New Jerusalem (according to Beck’s suggestion) should be made into the first global city, while the land of Israel should strive to become the Hong Kong of the Middle East. A composite picture of future should be presented to key people to encourage and motivate them to act.

As Beck points out, “this composite picture that contains win:win:win elements will be seen in stark contrast to the current levels of pain and misery. A series of superordinate goals will be created to provide essential unifying principles. High Quality elements will be built into the total design. Appropriate governance models could be suggested for each society based on the unique life conditions, historical images and norms, as well as available leadership capacities. Finally, since Acceptance is a key ingredient of any Effective Decision, it will be necessary to encourage local ownership of these dynamics.”

Integral Sapient Circle (ISC): The Integral Sapient Circle, the most important of all, would serve as a “psychological conflict resolution room” to temper down anger and cut down on trends that lead to polarizations or further violence. This ISC would seek help from other voluntary bodies to effectively manage the social climate for the good of all. As Beck points out, ISC is much needed in the hour owing to the fragmented state of both societies: “Both societies are overwhelmed by fragmentation, ad hoc and piecemeal efforts, and even ideas that are contradictory. The intent, here, will be to focus the energy and good will, raise confidence and hope, and provide some direction and division of labor so that more can be accomplished by fewer people and less money.”

The ISC will deal with polarization on a large scale, helping the political climate cool down after the initial separation. It will create what is called a “Third Win” situation or a “Third Voice”. Individuals who are sensitive to human-relations, experts in conflict management, organizing principles etc. will form this group. As Beck suggests, “They would work in the schools, community centers, churches, synagogues and Mosques to reach people (and children) where they live.” Calling this SC as the new “ISC Peace, Reconciliation and Future Thinking Corp”, Beck opines that we can pool in youngsters and adults into this peacemaking process, thereby, wiping out the “horrible chapters” in the history of both sides. The effort will be on creation of healthy societies and societies that have a positive, relational and growth-oriented mindset. When strongly established and potential, the ISC will display what Beck calls the “Power of Third Win”.

Beck’s thesis met with a lot of criticisms from Integral scholars, especially from Ray Harris and Frank Visser. We will see more of that in other posts in the Integral Practical series.

This is a series of posts on the Middle East crisis. You can access here the Part I, Part II and Part III of the post, “Integral Practical: Integral Strategies for Middle East crisis – Don Beck’s Fresh Start Initiative”

Reference Links:

1. Integral Practical: Integral Strategies for Middle East crisis – Don Beck’s Fresh Start Initiative – Part I and Part II

2. Don Beck’s “Hard Truths and Fresh Start: A Bold, Comprehensive and Integral Strategy for the Middle East”

3. Ray Harris: “Integral Notes on the Israel/Arab conflict”

4. Nader Said: “Being an Arab in Israel: An Integral Perspective from the Inside”

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