In July 2010, the World Affairs Council asked me to deliver a talk at the Celebrate Lebanon Conference in Peoria, Ill. on why the Lebanese assimilate smoother and succeed faster than other ethnic groups when they immigrate. Honestly, I didn’t believe that we Lebanese were different from other nationalities, but I was intrigued. I did wonder why members of the Council steeped in world affairs, perceived the Lebanese differently.
I felt challenged to research my ancestors, the Phoenicians, who lived in Lebanon on the Mediterranean Sea. Within two weeks, I was stunned. Groundbreaking new research, over the last 30 years, had discovered a new image of the Phoenicians. They lived by Seven Principles for 3,000 years, unlike any other society in ancient times. One of the most remarkable principles—the Phoenicians were capable of avoiding and resolving conflict and living in peace. I thought how is this possible when our present day world is riddled with conflict?
Being a transformational strategist, I work with people to transform their personal and professional lives in times of crisis and transition. By transform, I mean re-wire the neural circuitry in their brains so there is a permanent shift in their behavior as opposed to change which only achieves temporary results.
Being familiar with neuroscience, I understood that if the Phoenicians lived by these practices daily for 3,000 years, then these cultural and social behavior patterns had been hardwired into the neural pathways of their brains and passed down from one generation to another century after century.
Yet, my intuition informed me their story was much bigger than genetics and neuroscience? The Phoenicians were surrounded by larger, more powerful, warlike neighbors. I wondered how did they survive and thrive for 3,000 years when these other warring civilizations disappeared or were weakened. My search for the truth intensified. I wanted to understand how these Seven Practices protected my ancestors from violence and conflict and allowed them to flourish? What was the power behind these Seven Principles—this ancient wisdom?
I presented my talk on the Legacy of the Phoenicians in my hometown. Now 6,000 Lebanese, who are all descendants from a few men who emigrated from Aytou on Mt Lebanon, reside in Peoria. I have a family tree that goes back 8 generations that all began when my great maternal grandfather Tanous La Hood emigrated from a small village of 400 people to America.
At the end of the conference, I thought about Winston Churchill. When he entered 10 Downing Street, he said, “One experience after another has led me to this moment to become Prime Minister.” I knew one experience after another was building upon the prior one in my life, as it is in all our lives. But then I wondered, what is this all about for my future and the future of the world! My journey of discovery would soon accelerate and I would eventually make a connection between the Phoenicians and today’s political world. This series of 7 articles is based upon a talk I have been delivering since the 2016 Fall election. Part 2: Transforming by Understanding Science and Expressing Wisdom