As a Jew in the US Navy I have had to learn more than my share about cultural relations. People seem to identify most strongly with three things: culture, religion, and nationality. Of the three, I have always found religion most problematic. Culture and Nationality are important, but they differ from religion in that they are inherently rational.
People usually have reasons for the things they do. If you understand the reasons behind the actions you can often forge bridges and begin to make peace. But when people act in an irrational manner, there does not seem to be much you can do other than to directly oppose them. While this can stem the tide of violence and destruction in the short term, it does nothing to solve underlying tensions.
I realize that sometimes people act out of emotion, not reason. Desperation, fear, hatred, even love can lead people to very dark places. The issue I struggle with is when to intervene? Obviously if you see someone with a bomb strapped to their back heading into a crowd, the answer is easy. But what brought them to this irrational place? How do we intervene BEFORE something goes horribly wrong?
If you have any answers, they would be greatly appreciated.