#43 A Global Peace System (April 2016)
Imagine a Star Trek Future. In the TV show's first year we were never on Earth. But what we knew about the Starship Enterprise's crew was that on their home world there was no money, no poverty, and no war. They were clearly using their resources to invent and do fabulous things, like mounting starships to explore the galaxy.
Is this positive vision for us completely out of the question? Is our future fated by genetics or stupidity or cultural inertia to be forever blighted by war?
Research by anthropologist Douglas P. Fry and historian Kent Shifferd provides hope that, in fact, with sufficient will it is entirely possible for our species to establish a global peace system. Such a system is, arguably, the mechanism by which we can end war and establish an enduring peace. The focus of this AFWW newsletter is to introduce their work.
The Fry article and Shifferd video should be considered ESSENTIAL resource materials for anyone working to end war. They describe:
Shared Characteristics of Peace Systems
In a May 2012 issue of Science, anthropologist Douglas Fry presented, in a paper entitled, "Life Without War," the shared characteristics of groups who consciously created "active peace systems" designed to prevent wars between them.
For close comparison he picked three radically different cultures. Finding commonalities among very different cultures allows the investigator to ferret out features likely to be key to success of any peace system, large or small. The three alliances he focused on were ten tribes of the Upper Xingu River Basin in Brazil, the Iroquois Confederacy in what is now the United States, and the European Union.
The following six characteristics were shared by all three alliances. That these six characteristics exist in all three strongly suggests that they are essentials for maintaining ANY peace system, including a global one.
An overarching sense of shared identity - they expand the "us."
Interdependence among subgroups.
Intergroup social ties.
Symbolism and ceremonies that reinforce peace.
Values for peace.
Superordinate institutions for conflict management.
The article provides numerous additional examples of societies that live without war plus detailed discussion and examples illustrating these six shared characteristics, explaining how and why they are essential to maintaining the peace.
You can view an abstract of the paper here.
The article itself can be found here. Scroll down to find the article's beginning.
This blog essay by Dr. Judith Hand,"Peace Systems and Enduring Peace" also explores Fry's essentials for an enduring global peace system. In it she compares Fry's essentials to the nine cornerstones for creating a future without war that she has outlined in her writings, including her book Shift: The Beginning of War, The Ending of War, which is available as a paperback or Kindle download.
The Evolution of a Global Peace System
While groups here and there have created a peace system, the big question is whether we could establish a GLOBAL PEACE SYSTEM. That would effectively be the end of war.
It would not end human violence. For example, murder and revenge killings will not be eliminated any time soon as archeology and anthropology indicate that these behaviors have been with us for a long time, probably before we became humans. War, however, is a very recent addition to our behavioral repertoire, likely introduced roughly 12,000 to 15,000 YA. Contrary to much common wisdom, it is not a genetic inevitability. [See the blog essay by Judith Hand, "The Myth of Savage Savages Needs Debunking."
We would still need to vigilantly contain anyone threatening the peace, policing any outbreak of violence that could spill over into war.
But groups taking up arms to indiscriminately kill people in another group could become a relict of an unfortunate past.
What progress have we made in setting up a global peace? Have we made any progress at all?
Historian Kent Shifferd wrote From War to Peace and put its basics into a superb 18- minute YouTube video called "The Evolution of a Global Peace System." The video covers 26 significant changes within the last 100 years in global collaboration and orientation that already are moving us toward a global peace.
For example, the Establishment of Superordinate Institutions to regulate disputes, like the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. A global proliferation of Institutions Teaching Nonviolent Conflict Resolution. The flowering of Environmental Sustainability Projects and Concerns. A trend within established religions toward Using Religion to Foster a Sense of Human Oneness and Peace rather than using religion as a tool to foster war.
This video of 26 total trends puts our current status into realistic perspective. The overwhelming output of global media bombards us with news of dictators starting wars, threats of terrorism, the possibility of a mid-east nuclear war...a vision of perpetual war. But this is not the whole story of what is happening in the world.
Those who want a war-free future are not starting from ground zero. This video helps viewers to see clearly how much we have already done and are doing to secure an enduring global peace.
As much as we have forces working to create a future of perpetual war -- there's a lot of money to be made in perpetual war - and as gloomy a picture of world events as the media feeds us, the video makes clear that forces are also at work that reflect a striving to free ourselves from war so we leave to the children of the future a world of great positive potential.
The video is found on YouTube.
"Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr
A Good Book
War, Peace, and Human Nature.
Douglas P. Fry
Chapters by a variety of experts present the most recent evidence indicating when we began to make war, why we make war, the role of women as it relates to war, and the potential to end war by establishing a global peace system.
A Good Movie
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951).
Starring Michael Rennie as a peace-keeper come to Earth from a Galactic alliance accompanied by his powerful robot "policeman," Gort. The message the peace-keeper brings is that this peace alliance does not permit the existence of any species/planet capable of spaceflight that engages in war. They don't allow the spread of war into the galaxy. If the Earthlings don't find a way to end war, the robot will destroy the planet. The question the film poses for us is, will we only end war on Earth if an external existential threat forces us to do so, or will we band together as a global family and end war of our own free will?
A Future Without War
Believe in it.
Work for it.
And we will achieve it.