HOW PEACE IS CREATED

ROTARY DISTRICT 5440 PEACEBUILDER NEWSLETTER

OCTOBER 2020           NUMBER 38

HOW PEACE IS CREATED

William Timpson, Robert Meroney, Del Benson and Lloyd Thomas.

Fort Collins Rotary Club

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to educate others by promoting the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties. Visit our blog and comment if you wish: www.rotarypeacebuilder.com

SOME THOUGHTS

Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns. He can be reached at ljtdat@aol.com.

For the past few days, I have been thinking about how peace is created, developed and sustained both within ourselves and societies.  These thoughts are not new.  They have been talked about throughout history.  I hope you can find some of them useful during these stressful, uncertain times.

Back in 2005, Deepak Chopra wrote a book titled, “Peace Is The Way.”  In it he wrote about “imagine cells.”  Imagine cells are the beginnings of the metamorphosis that takes place transforming the caterpillar to a butterfly.  Out of the “biological soup” develops imagine cells that have within them the DNA information for creating the butterfly.

I like to think that imagine cells are in each of us and are the metaphorical analogy for what the individual can do to contribute to world peace.  We begin by creating our own inner peace.  When we mature as humans, we can develop personal inner peace by modifying our brain patterns by focusing on (and practicing) new thoughts, images, and language patterns.  In the book Total Life Coaching, I defined “success” as “any state of being with which you are content.”  Combining the two ideas of success and imagine cells, I think that in order for any individual, community, society or culture to be successful long-term, they must learn inner peace, they must be peacemakers, they must cope with conflict in a non-violent way, they must use the methodology of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, service, they must view every life as equally valuable as their own, and they must teach collaboration and cooperation.

To contribute to societal peace, we must relinquish our attitudes about “nationalism.”  Albert Einstein once said, “Nationalism is the cancer of humanity.”  Chopra wrote, “…nationalism, ecological abuse and religious fundamentalism are the basic blocking forces to peace.”  To me, these forces are the current dynamics that form the basis for war.

In his book, “Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You,” author, Dan Riskin, explores how all “living things are trying to [attack us], eat us, poison us, use our bodies as their homes, or have us spread their eggs.”  It seems that what we call “death” is absolutely necessary for regeneration.  Birth and death are universal life experiences.  Pablo Picasso wrote, “Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.”  It seems that what William Makepeace Thackeray wrote, “Life is the soul’s nursery—its training place for the destinies of eternity” is probably accurate.  Perhaps wars and disease are necessary for a new world-culture to emerge like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly.  Chopra wrote: “Thank God for death.”

My own thinking: After 26 years of civil war, the people of Angola (leaders who were schooled in the Christian missionary schools) are focused not on revenge (they do not complain about past government power and control), rather on “reconciliation.”  Only through forgiveness and reconciliation can a governmental power be dissolved, thus bringing about a new and peaceful revolution which is regenerative…and “service to others” is the pathway. “The measure of life is not its duration but its donation” —Peter Marshall.

British historian, Lord Acton, coined the now-famous phrase, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Yet, we still hold up “power” (and its attainment) as a virtue.  We still believe that “Winning is everything.”  Winning through the use of power and force is considered to be the best way to evolve.  What stupidity!  Usually, the oppressed, when they win power, become like the very people against whom they have rebelled.  The most powerful alternative to force, coercion and violence are the basic tenants of most religious faiths.  Love is the most powerful force in the Universe.  It is non-corrupting.  It is the ultimate peace.  It is the only necessary force for creation and evolution.  It is the only viable method and foundation for world peace.  I agree with Henry Van Dyke when he wrote, “There is only one way to get ready for immortality, and that is to love this life and live it as bravely and faithfully, and cheerfully as we can.”

I close with the thoughts Steven Levine expressed in his poem:

“In sending love to ourselves,

we send love to all.

In sending healing we are healed.

Like birth or illness or old age,

death is just another event along the way.

                                                  —From: Healing Into Life And Death

As we cope with the current COVID-19 pandemic, I hope you find the above thoughts relieving, comforting and possibly useful as you think about peace.

ETYMOOGY OF PEACE

Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University. He can be reached at Robert.Meroney@ColoState.EDU

Before you can create Peace, you must agree as to what it means.  Etymology is the study of the origin or history of words, a translation of the Greek roots of “etymology” would be the “study of or sense of truth”.  Anyone interested in peace is certainly concerned about truth which must underly its use and meaning.

The historical roots of the word Peace are the Latin “pax” or the Anglo-French term “pes” which have the synonyms harmony, tranquility, serene, calmness, completeness, wholeness,  quietude, concord, amity, and almost 80 other words commonly used in English.  Antonyms for Peace might be conflict, confrontation, discord, noise, strife, trouble, and war.

In Christian tradition the word Peace is a translation of the Hebrew word shalom, of the Arabic salaam.  It came into common use from about 1300 AD as a form of personal greeting.  But shalom or salaam also held wider meanings like justice, good health, safety, wellbeing, prosperity, equity, security, good fortune, and friendliness.  Peaceful behaviors require that one is kind, considerate, respectful, just, and tolerant of others’ beliefs and behaviors.  Also, historically important is that at a personal level Peace originally included the acts of reconciliation and agreement.

Not only can Peace be active between individuals and groups, it can also represent the state of personal contentment and satisfaction.  Inner peace or being at peace in one’s own mind reflects calmness, contentment, and tranquility…an absence of irritation, disturbance, or agitation.  Some would argue that it is difficult to propagate peace among others if one is not internally peaceful or satisfied with oneself. 

Sadly, there are also more negative interpretations of Peace.   Since classical times, it has been noted that peace has sometimes been achieved by the victor over the vanquished by the imposition of ruthless measures.  Peace then becomes merely the absence of different opinions, debate, or alternate beliefs. 

A picture containing cat, person, sitting, playing

Description automatically generatedAl Capp, the creator of the cartoon character Lil Abner, conceived of an alternative character or villain known as “Smilin’ Zack”, a cadaverous, outwardly peaceable mountaineer with a menacing grin and an even more menacing shotgun.[1] He preferred things “quiet” and “peaceful”. A close up

Description automatically generated(Real quiet, that is — not breathing or anything.)   He obtained peace and quiet by eliminating any bird, animal, or person who caused noise or disturbance.

Our Peacebuilders fellowship are not interested in the definition of Peace as the absence of disagreement, difference of opinions, or slavish agreement.  We hope for a world in which differences can be resolved by reconciliation, acceptance, forgiveness, and restorative justice, and we have Peace as a deliberate choice of love for one another.

Planning and Decision-making Hexagon and a Context for Learning and Actions about Civility and Peace

Del Benson, Ph.D. is a Professor and wildlife specialist for Extension at Colorado State University. His work is with wildlife and recreation enterprises on private land, conservation education, hunter attitudes and behavior, public input to resource management decision making and campus environmental management.  He can be reached at Delwin.Benson@ColoState.EDU

People have many reasons for conflicts.  Likewise, civil and peaceful solutions should bring many disciplines together to solve problems with people.  My “Planning, Policy, and Action Hexagon” that follows identifies key considerations that affect how people interact.  Providing logic or solutions for one side of the hexagon are not adequate when other sides are affected.

Decisions are made from many different factors, interests and considerations.  The hexagon represents categories for most of our reasoning.  Too often, we try to solve problems from within one of the sides rather than linking all sides into holistic problem solving. Apply learning and actions from all disciplines when you are investigating and solving problems with people. 

Multi-dimensional parameters exist from which one’s world view is formed and within which learning, teaching, leadership, communications, and behaviors must relate.  For people to civilly interact, to change, to adapt, to practice good behaviors, and to be more peaceful, their multiple life-contexts must be addressed.  The decision-making hexagon provides an illustration of multi-disciplinary parameters that should be addressed in an interdisciplinary manner when exploring problems and when finding solutions. 

Contexts of the Hexagon include:

1. The earth’s physical and biological systems without which nothing functions properly;

2. Economics (money and trade) regulates the exchange of goods and services;

3. One’s personal psychology, personality, wants, needs, coping skills, and “investment” in the issue;

4. The norms of the group, society and cultures which enable or restrict the actions of individuals and the groups;

5. Power structures through laws and political systems that protect or suppress the rights of individuals and society; and

6. Implementation logistics with benefits or barriers that are affected by technologies, skills, and administrative authorities that arenecessaryto perform desired tasks.    

More about the Hexagon

Peace builders should understand each parameter, make integrated decisions, and help others.

The earth and biosphere have physical and biological attributes and limitations that function as one living organism.  Each part of the earth is impacted by bio/physical processes in an interrelated web of life and death that is complex and dynamic.  From the standpoint of our biosphere, there is no right and wrong, only change.  We should develop a sense of ecological place within and among societies by lessening our disconnection from nature and apply pertinent and factual considerations from various ecological disciplines.  Perhaps ecology is the discipline which can most logically, but not entirely, influence positive long-term thinking since it integrates many other disciplines within the environment.  However, tensions are caused when environmental resources are not available for use.

Society uses economics (money and trade) to exchange goods and services.  Individual and group needs depend upon exchanging natural resources directly or on the products derived from bio/physical resources and human ingenuity.  Decisions about money or trade are often at the forefront of conflicts and must be considered in civil discourse when seeking peace.

Because humans are part of the earth’s living system, they are personally impacted by and cause impacts to the system.  Humans have needs for survival, security, personal expression and personal worth.  They desire use of the world’s resources and in so doing make lasting impacts.  Individuals may be optimistic or pessimistic, conservative or liberal, conservation-minded or exploiters.  Their personalities are formed by many primitive and modern experiences.  Humans can accept or reject civility and peace simply because they choose to.

Individuals form into groups and societies with unique norms and cultures.  Race, religion, ethnicity, gender, skills, professions, politics, and education are some of the linkages which help to expand or limit thinking and behavior.  Groups can encourage or suppress individual thought and action.  Actions by groups can help or hinder civility and peace.

Society functions formally through legal and political systems where heads of families, local chieftains, committee chairs, and national leaders rise to power and reflect norms or help to establish new norms.  Persons in political power protect, suppress or lead what individuals and societies can do for civility and peace.   

Within all systems of the hexagon there are logistical limitations to what can be known, expected, or acted upon about civility and peace.  In human systems, there are barriers caused by the level of individual and group skills, how opportunities are administered by leaders and whether appropriate technologies are developed and available.  Peace is not possible and civil actions are not practiced when one lacks appropriate skills, if one’s supervisor does not allow action, or if there are no known solutions at the time.

Put the Hexagon to Work

Getting everyone involved to think and act constructively as illustrated by the hexagon are the objectives for civility and peace.  Nurturing persons’ thoughtful interest and acceptable behaviors are not easy because they are impacted differently by each parameter of the hexagon.

SUPPORTING INNOVATION IN SUSTAINABLE PEACEBUILDING

William Timpson, Ph.D. has been a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club. He can be reached at william.timpson@colostate.edu.

As disruptive and destructive as they are, wars, conflicts and health crises can create opportunities to rethink, reassess and innovate. In Northern Ireland, a number of successful efforts emerged from the European Union’s creation of a fund for initiating peace and reconciliation projects that, it was hoped, could become self-sustaining after an initial five years of seed funding. In my time there I was able to examine the peace process still holding after the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended centuries of conflict and violence that began with British colonization and exploitation. We can only hope that these kinds of grass roots community efforts could be models for other nations like Burundi that are struggling to emerge from years of disruptions.

         In this photo, different neighborhoods murals of paramilitary forces, either Protestants loyal to the United Kingdom or Catholics in the I.R.A. (Irish Republican Army), define de facto security, those who may be in control behind the scenes.  
 
In the photo above and a short walk away from this mural is the innovative “start-up” carpentry business T.R.E.E.—Timber Recycling Eco Enterprise—that received five-year start-up funding to address three ambitious sustainable peacebuilding efforts: (1) Converting wood from building sites that was destined for the landfill and create objects for sale to the general public (e.g., toys, stools, games); (2) training young people, especially those unemployed male youth who are too often the targets for paramilitary recruiting, in “green” carpentry skills; and (3) having Protestant and Catholic youth work side-by-side and thereby “deconstruct” the hatred, stereotyping and prejudice that each had been taught about the “other.”

In another example of post-conflict innovation, the nation of South Korea has invested in structures that they believe will nurture creativity among its citizenry. Could nations like Burundi utilize a similar state investment to propel itself and its citizens in new and productive pathways out of poverty and towards a more sustainable and inclusive economy that also promotes caring and compassion for everyone?

  In this photo, Seoul’s ddp—Design Development Center—identifies the national commitment in support of synergy, initiative and innovation. Over the past 70 years, South Korea has produced the world’s fastest rise out of the poverty and destruction of war of any nation on earth to become a developed high-income country.  

In Israel and Palestine, another area of historic conflicts and violence, we see a grassroots example of sustainable peacebuilding that could also be a model for a nation like Burundi. What was once an abundant olive grove was bulldozed by Israeli military forces because of its strategic value despite the clear documentation of ownership by a Palestinian family dating to a time long before the creation of Israel itself. Now with contributions from a world-wide effort to support its new mission of promoting understanding between former enemies, in particular, the Tent of Nations can serve as a model for converting a violent past into a peace loving present.

    In this photo, the Tent of Nations represents efforts by a Palestinian family to convert its olive farm into an international center for promoting sustainable peace building across deep divides and historic enemies. Committed to “People Building Bridges” an engraved rock outside the fence proclaims that “We Refuse to be Enemies!”


Follow the Finns for innovation and inclusive prosperity

In Learning Ife’s Lessons (2019), I draw the following historical reference: The Treaty of Versailles brought an end to World War I between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on the 28th of June in 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that had sparked five years of brutal bloodshed across Europe with over 18 million dead and 23 million wounded. The treaty forced Germany to disarm, make territorial concessions, and pay reparations. While some claimed that this treaty was too weak, many historians believe that its punishing terms were unsustainable and soon led to a chaos that a Hitler and the Nazis fed on to grab power on promises of returning Germany to its military greatness. Could the tragic consequences that followed in World War II have been avoided with a more inspired and sustainable treaty that recognized the interconnections between the health of the economy, society and the environment?

In our 2016 book, 147 Tips for Teaching Sustainability, my colleagues and I point out the following. “In an analysis of the successes of the Finnish people in crafting government policy that requires heavy taxes but ensures a healthy foundation for ongoing innovation, Peter Ford (2005, “Egalitarian Finland Most Competitive, too,” Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 26.) describes their collective belief: “High level education is the key to what Pekka Himanen, a brilliant young philosopher who advises the Finnish government, calls his country’s ‘virtuous circle.’ ‘When people can fulfill their potential, they become innovators…. The innovative economy is competitive and makes it possible to finance the welfare state, which is not just a cost, but a sustainable basis for the economy, producing new innovators with social protection.’ In the end, says Jorma Sipila, the Chancellor of Tampere University, Finland’s inclusive social model is its best guarantee for the future. ‘The conditions for a flourishing economy are so demanding that the state has to make social investments to raise competent people and take care of dropouts so that they carry their share of the burden.’… Marrying prosperity and social protection is the only sustainable future” (6–7).

The questions we now ask are these? How could other communities build on these models of innovation to recover from a violent past and move into a more sustainable and peaceful future?

PRIORITIES OF THE ROTARY FOUNDATION

See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog  www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation! If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. You can find some of our past issues at the Rotary District 5440 website: https://www.rotary5440.org/sitepage/peace-building-newsletters. Future issues may explore the following: NOVEMBER—(Timpson) A Peace Park and Peacebuilder’s Trail. DECEMBER—(Timpson) Transforming Conflict.

If you have ideas for future topics, please send them to any of our writers.

 


[1] Smilin’ Zack was a secondary character in the satirical comic strip Li’l Abner.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li%27l_Abner#Supporting_characters_and_villains

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