Adam Grant, Elise Hume, Georgette Bennett discussed on TED Talks Daily

TED Talks Daily


Daily, I'm Elise Hume. Today's talk is about the power of one person to make dynamic change. In her talk from Ted 2022, peacebuilder georgette Bennett shows us how the seed of her idea and a lot of gumption led to bringing humanitarian aid to war torn parts of the Middle East. That's after a short break. Hey everyone, it's Adam grant. Welcome to rethinking. My podcast on the science of what makes us tick. I'm an organizational psychologist, and I'm taking you inside the minds of fascinating people to explore how they think and what we should all rethink. This season we're rethinking democracy with leader of the governors, Sharon McMahon. Scratch the whole Congress install 535 American government teachers. In Congress, they will whip that thing into shape so fast. Every single one knows the three branches of government. Every single one. Find and follow rethinking with Adam grant, wherever you're listening. What happens when a Syrian refugee and Israeli aid worker and an American Jew walk into a room? No, this is not the start of a really bad joke, I promise. This actually happened to me. Starting in 2015, I found myself holding a series of secret meetings and various European capitals with a small group of Syrian and Israeli civilians. And we were there to try and figure out how we can get aid to the Syrian people who were enduring the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. But how did we end up at this table together? After all, Syrians and Israelis are sworn enemies and technically they've been in a state of war since 1948. Yet here we were literally and figuratively trying to find a way in. And here's the punchline of that bad joke I promised not to tell. We found it. We figured out a way to get aid into Syria through Israel. Now, how did we do that? I applied a three step process that I've used in a bunch of other settings. And I'm hoping that those three steps will be useful to any of you who want to do some good in the face of any of the myriad overwhelming conflicts that we're facing today, including Ukraine. So what are my three steps? Find an entry point, identify a gap and then find something doable with which to fill that gap. It sounds pretty simple, right? So let me walk you through it. When I read a report on the Syrian war, it hit me very hard. And it felt very personal. I was stunned by the scale of the misery. And it echoed the suffering of my own family during the Holocaust. My parents survived concentration camps in Poland and in Hungary. And after the war, we had to flee, and we arrived in the U.S. as stateless refugees. So when I saw the destruction of Aleppo, I was put in mind of Budapest, the city of my birth, the bombed out city of my birth. And when I read about starvation by siege in Syria, I remembered my own mother, who lost a pregnancy, lugging a sack of rotten potatoes home because there was nothing else to eat. And when I saw the eviscerated and emaciated corpses of Syrians who had been tortured and Damascus prisons, I also saw the walking skeletons of Auschwitz, mauthausen, and Bergen belsen, where so many of my own family members literally went up in smoke. And when I saw Syrian refugees flooding across borders, I also recalled my own displacement as a refugee child. So as one person, as one person, what can you do next? When you're confronted with something that you know needs to be changed, you have to find an entry point. For me, that was mobilizing a Jewish response. And then scaling that up to the inter religious response in the U.S. focused exclusively on Syria. It's called the multi faith alliance for Syrian refugees. And today we have more than 100 partner organizations. I saw an opportunity to build bridges while also saving lives. And here is how. The southwest part of Syria was very difficult to access because it was surrounded by regime forces. That was a gap. Israel shares a border with that part of Syria. And guess what? It's easy to get aid into southwest Syria from the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. That gave us something doable with which to fill that gap. All we needed was the how. And that's why my colleagues and I found ourselves in clandestine meetings all over Europe. We were making the case that Israel should be used as a staging area for the outbound delivery of international humanitarian aid. We lobbied the UK parliament, the EU parliament, the Canadian parliament. We banged on doors in Congress. We met with every level of government in Israel. And we got nowhere.

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