Friday, August 6, 2021

Changing the Concept of Peace

Peace a word found in almost every culture, depending on the person speaking, has different meanings.  In the Kyeongyang Magazine, a scholar in peace studies gives us his thoughts on the meaning of Peace and how to achieve it.

In the military and connected fields: if you want peace, prepare for war are words often heard. The longing for peace is often expressed as national security, and the reason peace between countries is often so fragile.

When we have silence and compliance from orders in an undemocratic situation we often look upon it as peace. When we talk about peace of mind and continue with problems of inequality and racial conflict, structurally present and violent, we are closing our eyes to reality.

In the era of imperialism, war scholars believed war was a political maneuver and that power came from the gun barrel. This has passed on to this day.

There was a time when the intelligence agency had posters in subways and bus stations with the text: "When all seems peaceful is when things are dangerous." No one saw any problem with the wording. This way of thinking was around for some time. The resistance to this way of thinking was the beginning of a new understanding.

John Galtung the father of peace studies often mentioned the distinction between 'negative peace' and 'positive peace', direct violence and structural violence. Negative peace is the absence of violence.  Positive peace is working for the restoration of relationships, building social structures that work towards the resolution of conflict. Galtung didn't want the meaning of negative peace used. He also distinguished between direct violence and structural violence.
Passive Peace is only intended in the short term to prevent war and violence.  But for long-term results, it is open to all kinds of problems and violence continues. Galtung consequently was for the nonuse of the passive concept of peace. Active Peace requires we get rid of structures of confrontation, national rivalries, contention for domination, structures of inequality, structures that have to be examined. This thinking was hailed in many quarters.
Peace-making capabilities are required. He divides them into five steps.
1) Continue with capabilities to lay the foundation for peace and its increase.

2) See the many sides of the conflict, analyze and have the capability to manage it.

3) Each nation and citizen needs the capability to be leaders and show this by their words and actions.

4) We need a consistent strategy: dialogue, citizen peace structures, workshops to solve problems, prevent discrimination, and the capability to cope with the aftereffects of conflict.
5) Able to deal with the conflicts that will arise, and using this capacity to prevent permanent conflicts and achieve changes in the structures and systems.  

Peacemaking requires we understand prudently the violence and conflicts of daily life and can endure them. We use them to expand our thinking and spread peace and its value—management of conflict and the fostering of capabilities in dealing with frustrations. Need women, young people, and minorities to enter into the discussion and our need to continue the study. We work to make the system less violent and more manageable and regulated.

In the middle of the last century, we began to see a movement away from passive peace to active peace, from direct violence to a concern for structural and cultural violence, We saw a movement away from national security and the armament race, to peacemaking.

Briefly, we can say peacemaking has made an appearance, nations and various citizens groups have fostered non-violent capabilities and have worked to spread this within society. In conclusion, peace is not to imagine or assume others are enemies, but to move forward in looking for ways to live together. This is peace.

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