Friday, August 13, 2010

Story of the Day: Why Not?

As I mentioned earlier this week, August is officially story month on the blog.  

Why Not? encapsulated in a 438 word-count email by Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street touched me because of its' personal and inspiring tone. 

Note:  It's not a story about a client or donor.  Instead, it's a PERSONAL REFLECTION by an organizational leader.

We don't hear enough authentic writing from leaders, which is part of the reason that this email breaks through the clutter.  Kudos to Ben-Ami for writing a thoughtful and emotional piece.

When is the last time you or your Executive Director wrote a reflective communication?  Try it.  It may re-energize YOU and your constituents.



P.S.  I found this story on Progressive Exchange, an online community to aid the online efforts of progressive causes, campaigns, and organizations.  It was posted by Michael Hoffman of See3 Communications.

Asked to write a short piece on the topic of beginning again recently, I reflected on the possibility of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians re-starting in the coming days and weeks.

I wrote that - when it comes to trying something again - there's often a little too much "can't" in the world, and not enough "why not?"
It's just my nature, but I find little else as frustrating as being told a problem isn't solvable, or a goal unattainable. 
I never understood why, in law school, professors rewarded students for spotting issues and problems - rather than for coming up with solutions.
Nor do I understand why bold, new thinking so often meets out-of-hand rejection.  I just point to my friend who pitched several companies fifteen years ago with the design of a slim machine on which you could read books without paper.  They laughed.
Coming up with reasons not to take chances is easy. Passing the buck, pinning the blame on someone else, saying you can't - all easy.
But, in my book, trying and failing is no excuse for not starting again. 
We tell our children to get back in the saddle when they fall off a bike and to get back in the batter's box when they swing and miss. 
Why do we accept anything less as adults - in matters as important as life and death, war and peace?
Sure, we've all heard why Middle East peace can't happen.  How there are no partners.  How everything was tried ten years ago and it failed.  We've been told that those of us who believe are few and far between and that our limited power can't have an impact.
But why not?
That's my thought for Mahmoud Abbas this weekend as he ponders whether to say yes or no to starting direct talks with Israel. Click here to read J Street's statement from last week urging Abbas to enter direct negotiations.
Beginning anew means refusing to accept things as they are.  It means believing that, with effort, the power of good, of hope and of peace can and will overcome the daunting power of the status quo. 
New beginnings demand that we dream a better future and relentlessly ask why not.
Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu and, yes, President Obama to lead, to take risks, to defy the naysayers ... and to begin again.
Why not?
Shabbat Shalom, and have a great weekend, 
- Jeremy 
Jeremy Ben-Ami
, President
, J Street
, August 13, 2010

J Street is the political home of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement. 


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