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"Is Peace Possible" - a talk for your group

from the archive, 2016

The ICR public talk, Is Peace Possible, can be delivered to any organisation willing to host it. It is an opportunity to put some flesh on the bones of the general principles that have been advanced in the ICR blog posts on Peace - summarised in today’s offering. When we come to put flesh on the bones, we will trace efforts in the history of peacemaking that have grappled with and attempted to enact the principles contained in the following :

1. Peace is not the absence of war

-Peace is a presence (not an absence) like the rainbow colours in white light.

-Inner peace and outer peace affect each other - via a fractal mental model.

-Peacemakers opt not to be alienated - so they are not threatened by the world.

-Peace in this world (not just transcendentally) is evidenced by human action

-The ‘strong man’ enforces the discipline of unity at the expense of rights.

-Fault lines in society include leaders v led; class-conflict, and so on.

-Non-violent revolution is the fruit of practising contentment.

-Religion can be the cause of war and the cause of peace.

-Good religion is promoted by a positive interfaith outlook.

2. Attack and defence

-Conventional thinking around attack and defence needs challenging.

-The “holy” epithet should be reserved for peace rather than war.

-Aggressors typically invoke ‘self-defence’ as a reason for going to war.

-Would-be neutral arbiters tend to get polarised in a field of conflict.

-4 problems with the belief in attack (which occasions all the ‘defence’ action) : (i) pre-emptiveness heightens conflict (ii) the drift towards deadly force in order to defend (iii) psychosomatic blurring of where attack originates & (iv) subjectivity in the assessment of threat.

3. Projection - roadblock to peace

-Force is used by both established power interests and those who seek to oust them.

-Humans fare poorly in owning their aggression, and tend to engage in psychological projection to demonise opponents and justify attacks.

-The core ethical concern of locating good and evil leads us on a quest from locating them in others (“good people” v “bad people”) to locating them in mindsets to locating them in the fragmentation and healing of consciousness.

-Outer peace is the (politico-religious) externalisation of the inner psychological settlement.

4. Forgiveness, justice & inclusiveness

-The notion of equality runs like an invisible thread through the three characteristics of authentic peace : forgiveness, justice and inclusiveness.

-Forgiveness undoes inequality by recognising a human rather than sub-human motivation in the opponent.

-Just desserts depends on what one sees in the other. Squaring justice & mercy.

-Justice as a pure defence : as protection against the compulsory belief in attack.

-The balancing scales of social justice corrects the unbalanced desire that breeds inequities.

-Cold war conflicts waged through proxies evidence lack of inclusiveness.

5. The quality of peacemaking is not forced

-Peacemaking a way of being instead of an emergency response.

-We are breathlessly short of time, in a climate of fear and anxiety, where small, gentle actions of peace are pushed aside by the doctrine that “brute force is all they understand”. The climate of fear leads to mindless destruction.

6. Peace is not a house divided

-Distant conflicts invade our private spaces here.

-It is a small world when we share one mind, like monkeys on an island

-Identity politics raises the threat of fracture lines in the body politic.

-Looking upon conflict can easily polarise the onlooker. Curiosity killed the cat that presumed an easy neutrality.

-Peace and love transcend the polarised field.

-The space between the faiths (“inter-faith”) must be cultivated beyond a wasteland.

7. Peace as unity in diversity

-Hierarchy and subsidiarity are the two organising principles that make unity in diversity possible. Hierarchy organises society from the top down, subsidiarity from the bottom up.

-Minority can tyrannise over a majority, as a majority can tyrannise over a minority. Violations of hierarchy and subsidiarity are injustices that diminish the peace

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