#35 Peace Systems and Opting out of War (May 2014)
The people of Earth continue to suffer at the hands of warmongers. These individuals, overwhelmingly but not solely men, are so powerfully driven to control or dominate other people - or the resources of those people - that they are willing to kill, or have others kill for them, to achieve that goal.
Vladimir Putin, the current President of Russia, is such a man, and in this year he used his military forces to annex the peninsula of Crimea, a region of the country of Ukraine. At this writing he threatens to extend his domination to even more land in the eastern region of that country. Many people fear he has even broader acquisition objectives.
As disgusting as this action is, the world's response to this naked aggression suggests serious cause for hope. On "Face the Nation," for example, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's (somewhat paradoxical) response was "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text," and "We want a peaceful resolution through the normal processes of international relations" (Meet the Press).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's response to this taking of Crimea, when she contacted the United States President Barack Obama, was reputed to be that she said that Putin was "living in another world" and was "not connected to reality." What she meant by this was never clarified, although one German government representative said that she meant simply that she felt that Putin had "a very different view about Crimea."
But many in the world press, and on talk shows, ran with very different interpretations. The most unlikely of these was that she meant that Putin is literally unhinged, certifiably out-of-contact-with-reality insane. But the more interesting and relevant interpretation by some was that she meant something along the same lines as Secretary of State Kerry: that Putin was mentally living in a different century, a time when using military force to invade and annex another country using the threat of killing was "business as usual" of a past age, was no longer acceptable, and was no longer, or at least should not be, our human reality.
Unfortunately, though, many warmongers still are among us and many of them, like Vladimir Putin, are armed to the teeth.
It is offers hope, however, that the world community, here and there, is experiencing a remarkable and potentially profound shift in viewpoint. Secretary Kerry's statements and the interpretations offered to explain Chancellor Merkel's comment strongly suggest that at the very highest levels of government, in at least some parts of the globe, there exists a growing belief that humans can move into a new reality...in fact, that developed nations have already done so. That Homo sapiens has matured. That "business as usual" that includes war has become maladaptive and we intend to live with each other without the destruction of the works of our hands, the waste of urgently needed resources, and the tragic suffering and loss of lives that are the result of war.
That we can and fully intend to live in peace!
What would have to happen to fully realize such a stunning, and positive transition on a global scale - the actual end to war itself? Is it realistically possible for this generation to lay the foundation for and begin building upon a foundation of enduring peace?
A global peace system is the mechanism by which we can achieve the enduring abolition of war. Arguably most global citizens are not aware thatpeace systems already exist (examples described below). Awareness of their existence has been growing, and factors that enable the establishment and maintenance of them are being studied (examples described below). What is needed now is for a critical mass of the war-weary global community to use this knowledge to push for construction of a global peace system that enables a working future for the entire globe - for humanity's future - that is warless.
Douglas Fry, Ph.D. - Peace System Characteristics
Perhaps the best, and mercifully short, general introduction to peace systems is a paper by the anthropologist Douglas Fry in the journal Science (336:879-884, 2012): "Life Without War." Fry first lists a number of cultures having peace systems. He then describes the features of three such societies and by doing so lays out features that peace systems share. The highlighted systems are ones of the Iroquois Great League of Peace, 10 Brazilian tribes, and the European Union. This is real-world study of what makes peace possible between non-angelic people living in non-utopian societies. It can bring our thinking down to earth.
[This article is available for free online by simply registering with Science]
Comparisons - Judith Hand, Douglas Fry, Steven Pinker
In Shift: The Beginning of War, The Ending of War, evolutionary biologist Judith Hand also delves into factors necessary for building a global peace system. Several chapters discuss relevant work of Douglas Fry, and also insights in the book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker.
In two appendixes, Shift compares the nine ending-war cornerstones Hand proposes with factors that Fry and Pinker, in their works, identified as keys to suppressing (Pinker) or ending (Fry) war.
The benefit of the comparison is that by taking note of common elements that appear to be essentials for living in peace that three very different authors converge on can provide insight for groups or individuals working on a plan to end war or to build a solid foundation for an enduring warless future.
A blog entitled "Peace Systems and Enduring Peace" presents the Appendix that compares Hand's cornerstones and Fry's common characteristics.
A Video: The Evolution of a Global Peace System
This 24 minute video is inspiring, not because of razzle-dazzle, but because it compellingly documents over 20 remarkable, hopeful trends that reflect evolution toward a planetary loyalty and sense of human oneness that will be critical to establishing an enduring and global peace. During the last 100 years we've put into placed many of the essentials that can meet the human community's hunger for an end to war and a future where peace and justice are our common experience.
This succinct, clear documentary is based on historian Kent Shifferd's book From War to Peace and was produced by the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation. It should be widely publicized and appreciated. These trends are cases of progress we have already made toward a global peace system. They reflect the emergence of a global spirit that is reaching out for peace. They show how exquisitely poised we are to make a major paradigm shift to a warless future. View the video on YouTube and share it generously.
It always seems impossible, until it is done.
A Good Book
Waging Nonviolent Struggle. 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential.
The Harvard professor Gene Sharp has written classic analyses of many social transformation movements. Read this book to find out what works, and what doesn't work...and especially the astonishing power of strategic use of nonviolent struggle.
A Good Movie
"The Lord of War." This film helps fill a need to understand the scope of this aspect of the war machine. Nicholas Cage, playing an international arms dealer, gives insight into arms trafficking by the international arms industry. The film was recommended by Amnesty International.
A Future Without War
Believe in it.
Work for it.
And we will achieve it.
These three quick links are to Dr. Hand's core articles on paradigm shift:
To Abolish War
Shaping the Future
Paradigm Shift: Swift and Enduring
How Long Ending War Would Take
Why Women Are the Key to Security
The Nine Cornerstones
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