About the Project
(by Dan Sockle) As conversations about the idea behind “America’s Jihad” grew, so did the speculation about the diversity of “stakeholders” and potential. “World Peace,” while a noble goal, is generally seen as unachievable and unrealistic, in short, a very tough sell. It occurred to me that it might be time to bridge the divide that has generally existed between the military and those who protest most passionately against war, often on or from college campuses. In more colorful and derisive vernacular, the “baby killers” and the “peaceniks.” It has been said that “No one appreciates peace more than a soldier.” I contend that this is very true and believe that, as a country, we have finally learned to separate the flaws in our foreign policy, driven by elected leaders and politically-appointed “statesmen” (and women), from the military men and women who are tasked by these (mostly) civilians to go into harm’s way – sometimes for the wrong reasons that are driven by everything from special interests and greed, to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the subject region’s histories, cultures and views of the “Western World” by the affected indigenous populations.
Drawing from my experience in the military, law enforcement, and community mediation, where conflicts were often rooted in a breakdown of communication and trust, compounded by deceptions, hidden agendas and/or misperceptions, it seemed to me that the foundational concepts of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), or mediation, should be shared as widely as possible to empower everyone from couples, family, and neighbors to co-workers and global leaders, especially those in foreign policy, to better prevent and improve their chances of resolving conflict without having to resort to violence. My motivation for becoming a volunteer mediator was to help disputing parties to avoid the trials, tribulations and often dysfunctional civil and criminal justice systems. These are among our project goals:
- To bring to light the complex histories and present day dynamics of the many cultures, political and belief systems around the globe
- To promote mutual understanding and respect across these divides
- To recognize that humans were involved in the various translations of the Torah, the Bible and the Holy Quran, all of which contain controversial passages subject to many translations and interpretations that have been misused to further personal or political agendas
- To shed light on the many commonalities across Judaism, Christianity and Islam – far more commonalities than differences
- To draw attention to the complexities and conflicts that exist between the many denominations, branches, sects or versions of “Judaism,” over 600 of “Christianity” and over 100 of “Islam,” – not to mention the many local interpretations or nuances professed by individual Clerics at the thousands, if not millions, of Synagogues, Churches and Mosques across the globe
- Ultimately, to do our best to differentiate between moderate practitioners of Islam and those who subscribe to the tenets of an Islamic State, whether pursued through violence or deception. While radical Islam is presently the world’s focus, moderate practitioners of all faiths must unite and collaborate in condemning the radicalization of any religion or belief system.
Specifically, I hope that we can bring more light and support to the growing number of interfaith initiatives – as well as to the concepts and philosophy behind Chaplaincy. Had our military Chaplains been allowed to more proactively engage with the religious leaders in Iraq, particularly training and modeling their task to support people of all ethnicities and faiths, we might be looking at a much different Iraq today. When I left the “Human Terrain System” in October 2009, it did appear that we had learned from this mistake, and were now attempting to stand up “Imam Chaplains” in the Afghani Security Forces. We can only hope that Afghanistan has a much better outcome.