Here at the Greater Good Science Center, the war between Israel and Hamas is provoking a range of emotions: sadness, anger, fear, and more. We’re reading the news every day and wishing that there were more we could do to help.
As an educational nonprofit, the best we can do, perhaps, is to remind ourselves and our readers that peace is always possible, the vast majority of people resist killing, even the most violent primates are capable of change, there are steps we can all take to bridge our differences, and activism can make the world a better place. We’ve gathered articles below to help you understand the roots of peace, war, and reconciliation; get involved in activism; and support your well-being and your children’s—including reminders of human goodness in times of conflict.
If you’d like to find a more direct way to support the people of Israel and Gaza, here is an excellent list of organizations addressing the human crises that war creates. We hope you’ll consider making a donation to one of them.
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Promoting peace and reconciliation
- What Can We Learn From the World’s Most Peaceful Societies?: A multidisciplinary team of researchers is discovering what makes some societies more peaceful than others.
- In a Divided World, We Need to Choose Empathy: It’s gotten harder to empathize; that’s why it’s so important we work at it. Luckily, we can.
- Eight Keys to Bridging Our Differences: There are many misconceptions about bridging differences, so we consulted with researchers and practitioners to clarify what it is—and what it isn’t.
- How War Shapes Our Attitudes About Violence: New studies are discovering that exposure to war can make violence more acceptable among civilians—but there might be ways to break the cycle.
- How to Resist Manipulation by Embracing All Your Identities: Learning to celebrate complex identities in ourselves and others could help make the world a better place.
- How Can We Make Politics Less Hostile?: A new study finds that when we practice intellectual humility, we have less animosity toward the “other side” of political debates.
- Can Contact Reduce Prejudice Even When You’re in Conflict?: A new study suggests that even when discrimination and fear of “the other” is rampant, contact between diverse groups can still reduce prejudice.
- How the Growth Mindset Can Increase Cooperation: In a new study, researchers saw Jewish- and Palestinian-Israeli students cooperating better after a simple lesson.
- What Makes a Good Interaction Between Divided Groups?: Intergroup contact can help bridge divides, under certain conditions.
- To Resolve Conflicts, Get Up and Move: Researcher Peter T. Coleman has found an unlikely path to peace: Move your body to help your mind get unstuck.
Reminders of human goodness
- Hope on the Battlefield: Military leaders know a secret: The vast majority of people are overwhelmingly reluctant to take a human life.
- In Search of the Moral Voice: What makes some people display altruism and compassion in the midst of war? Two researchers are trying to find out.
- Courage Under Fire: When the Bosnian civil war broke out, Svetlana Broz searched for the humanity behind the horrific headlines. She found stories of people who risked their lives to help victims of the war—and who inspired others to follow their example.
- Worlds Without War: Ethnographic studies find that not all societies make war. In other words, war is not intrinsic to humankind.
- Beyond Sex and Violence: Contrary to the typical view, violence is something humans resort to out of fear—or try to avoid altogether.
- Peace Among Primates: Anyone who says peace is not part of human nature knows too little about primates, including ourselves.
- Why Is There Peace?: Violence is declining, argues psychologist Steven Pinker. What are we doing right?
Political apology and forgiveness
- The Forgiveness Instinct: To understand the human potential for peace, we have to learn three simple truths about forgiveness and revenge.
- How Should a Group Apologize to People They Harmed?: A new study investigates which components of an apology foster forgiveness and reconciliation between groups.
- The Greatest Test: Forgiveness improves health and strengthens relationships. But can it help heal the scars of civil war?
- Making Peace Through Apology: Some apologies encourage forgiveness and reconciliation between groups and nations; others only make things worse. Here’s how to tell the difference.
- What Makes a Political Apology Seem Sincere?: When is a political apology likely to be well-received? A new study explores the contributing factors.
- Six Ways to Deal With Someone Who Wronged You: Here’s what we have learned from 25 years of research about forgiveness—and its alternatives.
Resources for well-being and activism
- Six Tips to Avoid Being Overwhelmed by the News: Here’s how to cope when all the negative news is triggering you.
- Is Love Better Than Anger for Social Change?: We can learn from the fly fishing industry, which shifted toward conservation thanks to decades of messaging about caring for nature.
- Need a Hero? Look Around You: We love to exalt heroic individuals. But in this historical moment, collective heroism is best suited to the challenges we face.
- How to Sustain Your Activism: These three principles can help activists avoid burnout and continue working toward a better world.
- One Way to Improve Teen Mental Health: Activism: A new study finds that teens involved in youth programs develop more critical reflection and take more action to fight injustice and inequality.
- How to Renew Your Compassion in the Face of Suffering: Mass suffering can make us feel helpless. Focusing on solutions, rather than emotions, may be the way out.
- How to Deepen Our Compassion for Refugees: When we face large numbers of people in need, we almost instinctively pull back. By questioning this reaction, we can make space for a more empathic response.
Resources for children’s well-being
- Nine Tips for Talking to Kids about Trauma: In the midst of tragedy, kids will have questions. How do we respond?
- How to Talk With Kids About Scary News: Researcher Abigail Gewirtz explains how parents can have conversations with kids about global conflict and humanitarian crises.
- Five Ways to Support Students Affected by Trauma: Teachers can help students recognize their strengths and build resilience.
- Can Parents Teach Peace?: A recent study suggests they can, at least some of the time.