T-H-E-M is the most dangerous four-letter word in the English language. THEM creates ‘the Other’ – isolating, insulting and marginalizing. THEMification is responsible for enslaving entire continents, waging wars and genocides. This single word, THEM, has a devastating impact on geopolitical and societal levels, as well as within personal relationships.
American perceptions of the Middle East are often a series of simplistic stereotypic notions of THEM: dangerous, unstable, hostile, monolithic. Over the past decade, spending time with people on all sides of conflicts in the Region, as well as working with Syrian refugees in Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan and on the Syrian border in Reyhanli and Kilis, Turkey, Dick Simon has found that individual stories are the key to dispelling stereotypes, fighting misconceptions, and opening paths towards real understanding.
His work shares the untold human stories behind the headlines in regions of conflict around the world, bridging the gap between “us” and “them”. The Bedouin man wearing an Arab headdress becomes my host and friend; Palestinians walk in a peaceful Easter Sunday religious procession by the nearby Jewish settlement; and Iranians balance the dictates of a strict theocratic state with modernity. The images in kNOw THEM: The Middle East represent only a few of those individual stories that add nuance and perspective to understanding this dynamic region.
‘kNOw Them’ Web Site: The kNOwTHEM Initiative raises individual and collective awareness about the power and dangers of THEM and THEMification. To create this awareness, which dramatically impacts our behavior and lives, the Initiative includes speaking tours to community organizations and schools, online talks through TED and other venues, photographic exhibitions, websites, books and various social, electronic and print media. In addition, the Initiative is developing and distributing educational material to institutions, while convening conferences and other meetings.
Dick Simon’s TEDx Talk: The Most Dangerous Four Letter Word: “The word THEM has the destructive power to enslave entire continents, wage wars, and commit genocides. THEM impacts personal relationships as well as geopolitical conflicts. This talk will inspire you to get past THEM and recognize that the ‘other’ has its own narrative, history, and perspective. With this insight, conflicts are resolvable and our human interactions are richer and more nuanced.”
BYOB: Bring your own Beer, Wine or Soda to this month’s new art Installation. Hear from the Artists about their inspiration and process – and join the conversation about your own experience of their creativity.