Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guns, constitutions and hypocrisy

Each of us has a responsibility to protect the rights of others. That responsibility is not often made clear in societies where personal freedom is paramount. In no small manner was that right to protect usurped in the Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union had more to do with the corruption and greed of those that ruled. The responsibility to each other gave way to ensuring the best lifestyle for the individual at the expense of country and culture.
The very same attitude is at the crux of gun control in the Republic of the United States. In the coming months we will hear the arguments about the right being enshrined in constitutions. The reality is that the right which is being debated is band aid/patch work to the original. With that there must be some wisdom applied to understand that amendments are very much time/circumstance oriented.
In other countries such as Belgium, the constitutional talks there had left them without elected government for months. This was due to language protection. Although there has been little violence over the course of the decades long conflict, the fact remains that the constitution was in need of change. Similar to Canada during 1982 and has always been on a slow burn of political discussion.
At this very moment Egypt is dealing with its constitution. Syria had a public vote during 26 Feb 2012 which resulted in an 80% agreement to change the constitution. Of course that was shot to hell as rebel and government forces clashed.
Even with these constitutions, which spell out the responsibility of the people, the reality is that constitutions are only documents invented/shaped by our ideology. As we know, ideology can and will evolve. As ideology evolves so will culture. Overall, the culture of the world has been changing and the control of weapons is one area that has an urgent need of evolution.
It is true that weapons will always be apart of life. A pointed stick or a rock is always available, as are knives, and let us not forget the most deadly weapon – our minds. At debate is the availability of weapons. This fact is very evident in conflict zones. There are so many weapons in East Africa that no one really knows where they all are or how many. This is how we get 12 year old children being experts on how to maintain and operate a wide variety of small weapons such as rocket propelled grenades.
In the past five years we have seen great efforts to curtail the weapons trade industry. There has been some success but there still is a long way to go. To that end I understand the reality of war and come to terms with the fact that a total ban is just not possible (yet).  In addition I know that education is a frontline issue in this conflict as well. Still, the curtailing of weapons is needed.
As shocking as such events are, the average person is numb to the vastly more devastating carnage taking place. Thousands of people are being killed by the very governments that speak out against such violence. This is the hypocrisy of world politics. Until that is changed more innocent people will be victims, never mind constitutional change. First live up to the current standards we have set because at the moment we are doing a very poor job of that.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

ramble of peace

As each year closes out we like to look back and see what has transpired. Such an exercise should help us improve on our methods to bring peace to the world. In the grand picture there is a great deal more certainty in the world than there has been in some time. Even with that grand picture there are areas we have much work to focus on.
There is no way to know what will be the point where a person decides to kill someone else unless you are the person making the decision.  If you are not that person, all you can do is be aware of those around you. At some point we must acknowledge that everyone (you and me) has a responsibility to ensure a peaceful world. No leader can massacre thousands of people without the assistance of others. That leader can be a warlord, president, gang leader, terrorist or whatever label a person gives themself.
Each person that engages in violent actions has gone through some sort of metamorphosis. This change/transformation is education. That education is provided by the daily interactions with the people in which each of us live our lives. So when a single person acts in a violent way we must look at how the larger society has influenced that single person. That understanding is supported by the widely held philosophy which states; it takes a community to raise a child. Furthermore, it takes a community to ensure a peaceful environment as well.
Each one of us is unique. There are no two people alike. There are no two countries alike either. What there is though is commonalities each of us share. We can equate the actions of the individual with the actions of their government. This is a reality because no government can act without the consent of the people. Due to this there will be times when the individual will act exactly as the government. If the government is brutal, it is because there will be those that must act in a similar manner. How else does a government act brutally if not through its agents? The same goes for the community, family, gangs, corporations or any other group of people.
I keep telling myself that everyone acts in a manner that they feel is best to ensure a peaceful society. It is my responsibility to understand how someone can believe that a violent act is the best option they have. On the international stage how is the situation in Syria the best option for peace?
On the surface it seems like a proxy war. Some call it a civil war while others call it an international conflict. In my opinion Syria is first class lie/screw up. The best option for peace is for each person that reads this to demand better leadership. We must have the courage to stand up to the hawks and tell them might is not right. We must seek to have as many weapons as possible controlled more effectively. Further more we must educate about peace. We have to prepare to be peaceful because in moment s of chaos there is very few that can act with a calm and peaceful attitude.
Peace education in our schools is something that can no longer be an afterthought. Peace education needs to be a focus. Community building and understanding that it takes a community to ensure peace is needed.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Middle East Hypocrisy

The reality of the world has its share of moments that are just unavoidable such as earthquakes. Then there are moments where hypocrisy creates untold damage and blame is thrown around. In the past few days we have seen such hypocrisy.
Within the past few days the United Nations General Assembly has voted on the status recognition of Palestine. Another vote that was taken within the United Nations system is the observance of nuclear facilities within Israel. In both circumstances Israel has voted against. To my shame so has Canada. The hypocrisy of such actions is that both (Israel and Canada) have fought very hard for freedom of self expression as well as for other states to have nuclear facilities observed. The hypocrisy of voting no against either of those is just being blind to reality and perhaps being completely stupid.
For a peaceful world to exist we must be willing to accept conditions of ourselves that we ask others to accept. Sadly, as a global society, we are far away from that reality. I know we live in a world where might makes right and our leaders live by the phrase, “do as I say not as I do”. For a person that works towards a peaceful society, those two beliefs are foundations for understanding a great deal of the violence that exists.
We witness the hypocrisy daily as people pray for peace and then commit acts of extreme violence. Such actions are examples of insanity. How do you reason with a person that will stand up and state with great conviction that they are a peaceful person, only to see that very person killing another a few hours later? This is exactly what the world deals with and everyone reading this understands that is true.
Here we are today. If there is no one shocked at the views of the individuals speaking for Canada, they should at least be utterly disappointed. These views are not Canadian they are one persons singular hijacking of the peaceful culture that Canada has so bravely built. Such actions has only added more hypocrisy and chaos to the world.  
However, such hypocrisy is also held within many of the countries around the world. There are very few people that would rather live in chaotic, violent and uncertain situations than live in peace. Here we stand today seeking ways to eliminate nuclear weapons, spread equality, end violent conflict and bring the certainty of peace to children. At the same time we continue to build nuclear weapons and rattle our sabres in threat of violence.
The saving grace is that those that voted for both were of such great numbers that peace was given a very large boost. The world has spoken. Now will it act with similar conviction?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Statehood for Palestine

Palestine is one more step further along the road to full statehood.
The history of the Middle East is one that is filled with broken promises. That is the single reason why the acts of the past must be let go, not forgotten but let go. Everyone in this region has incurred great damage, lies, deceit and blatant violent hatred.
The state of Palestine is not an evil empire any more than Israel is. The evil comes from the people which are taught to hate, not the state itself. We have to understand that a government does not really exist. It is this simple, a state does not exist if the people do not. So to say the Palestine is an evil empire is in reality not possible because Palestine is made up just like every other country we invent. With that if the people change so will the government. So to say the Palestine does not deserve to be recognized as a state because of its ideology is absurd. Perhaps this understanding is too simplistic for most but the reality remains. The people are the government and people will and do change.
We have been living with chaos in the Middle East for centuries and enough is enough. To be honest I really do not care who fired what rocket or who lied to whom.  The fact is that there has been no resolution to the idiocy that has gripped the Middle East and we must seek other options. Recognizing Palestine is a step that is long over due.
We often forget that boundaries, cultures, people and realities change. In forty years we have the opportunity to look back and see this step as the force which brought peace. I hope that is the reality in forty years. As I look around at the leadership of the current world, I have serious doubts. There is a deep distrust today because no one has taken the bold steps towards peace. Let this step be that motivator of peace, not further violence and war.
The violence and distrust that exists in the Middle East is easily understood. Basically there is a great level of insanity within the leadership of the entire region. How else can you make sense of why people choose to live within such chaos? This is what people are not understanding, the situation in the Middle East has come about due to choice. The choice has been to live in a violent, chaotic and peaceless environment, why?
I can hear the answer loudly stated as this. “Because they can not be trusted! They do not want peace! They have never honoured any peace agreement!”
You just have to step back and see how the blaming of others is a zero sum strategy. It solves nothing and only continues a cycle of aggravation as those that are being blamed respond by justification of their actions. We have been witnessing this very reality in the Middle East for centuries now.
The “Two State Solution” is one more step towards completion. How long it will take or even if it happens is only guess right now. Recognizing Palestine as a state is a path that needs to be tried.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Middle East peace and the individual

When starting out to study peace and conflict, the emphasis on inner peace was made known to me early. From there all emotions of life have been understood. A war between two countries was quickly introduced and brought into the realm of a personal relationship. This connection between the international peace and a personal peace is understood as outer peace and inner peace. Within this dynamic is how the world comes into my mind.
The situation between Palestine and Israel that has rolled along for decades is one violent conflict that has lost a great deal of trust between each other. In another part of the world we have the insanity of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Central African Republic, and both Sudans.
In the realm of a personal relationship, trust is paramount and trust is equally important within international relations. If the trust factor is understood to be a violent relationship, that trust exists even though it may not be the desired situation. Yet violence is a trusted action in all the relations noted above. This leaves us with the question, How can peace ever be possible when violence is a trusted action?
On a personal level you can equate a similar reality when a spouse or an important friend breaks the trust built up between you and them. Such actions will bring life down to a very rudimentary level where anger and aggression are primary responses. Those responses are exactly where the countries listed above exist now.
How do we get past this so that peace is a reality?
On an international scale, inner peace is a very difficult reality because a nation has many people. What is needed is a leader that understands the need for inner peace. Furthermore, a leader that can communicate that need and emulate the mindset of peace is needed. Such leadership has not been present for many years. In this event we must rely on the leadership of others. The sad reality is that the leadership of the other countries is just as weak and untrustworthy. Religious leaders have just as much blood on their hands as the political leaders. The United Nations Security Council system is powered by the untrustworthy leadership of the Permanent Five. This leaves us with the leadership capacity of the individuals.
The leadership of the individual brings us right back to the need for inner peace. This is when each of us has to look at how we think, understand and act to both ourselves and each other. A philosophy that helps to understand peace is to balance where you see yourself and others as helping or hindering efforts to obtain a peaceful relationship.
Are your comments centred around the relationship, you or the other? Peace is a relationship that has a trusted harmony of mutual respect. For an example of poor mutual respect, being Canadian I have lived with the imbalance of respect that the political leadership in the RUSA has for Canada. This imbalance of respect has filtered down to the average person and results in the constant comments of Canada being taken over, being insignificant and having the impression that the RUSA can tell Canada what to do. This is not a peaceful mindest. However, there have been enough peaceful interactions/relations between the two to understand that peace is more valuable than the rhetoric of disrespect. The reality of the disrespect is still there and it is often spoken about when the two leaders meet.  This keeps the issue at the forefront of all situations and that makes the relationship easier and more peaceful.
In that example we can see how leaders work to ensure the rhetoric of the people does not escalate. Furthermore we can see how the need for the individual to be peaceful is a must.
In the cases of Israel, Palestine, DR Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Central African Republic, Both Sudans and Burundi, there is very little respect and most communication is done with weapons. Before the weapons are no longer used the leaders have to build a certain level of trust and or respect. This is where ceasefire agreements come into play. Once we can get to a point where the weapons are no longer used and put away, the work to build a peaceful reality will begin. 

To make a parallel to a personal relationship, is having a friend that tells the truth yet that truth is that they continue to hurt and cheat you a peaceful relationship?  For the international scene, such truth is a hard reality of life when weapons have been put away. Some poeple act in ways that are destructive and all you can do is let them go to destroy themselves. Hopefully they will not and rebuild theirself into a more peaceful person.

More often though such situations will quickly see weapons/aggression put to use again out of anger, frustration and a desire to exact revenge to balance out the pain and suffering one has felt.
Again the need for inner peace is needed. It is not an easy path yet we must look to understand how others are trying to help further peaceful realities. Even if that person is insane, there has to be a string of understanding. For the peaceful person the task of understanding is ever present.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Corruption and aggression

After reading a great many articles and essays from around the world, it is really interesting to read news reports from across the world as well. Being from Canada I obviously read most of my news from those sources. Furthermore I try to relate what is taking place there (Canada) to what is happening globally. The two largest items for my interest in Canada have been the corruption in Montreal (which is finally being dealt with) and the issue of bullying.
Both the corruption and the aggression issues are front and centre on the global scene as well. Corruption has brought about the current global economic crisis and aggression has put the Middle East into a tail spin of chaos. What is really interesting is that both corruption and aggression spread due to a perception that all other options are not worth the effort. This perception quickly erodes all avenues of a peaceful society.
In one news story I came across, there was a link made to people that wear fake/knockoff clothing and the likelihood of that person to indulge in corruption. That idea made me think of the current economic crisis and how the world was taken by a bunch of false leaders. I quickly thought of the saying, “dress for success”. Now I know it is wise to prepare for success but mentality is way more important than appearance.
On the issue of aggression, the use of social media has been a major factor. The social media is full of false reality. There are too many people relying on this medium as a source of information and we are paying the price for it now. The actual human need for communication is being fed junk food through the social media. It has got to the point where two people will sit together and not talk because they are texting others. This behaviour has become normal yet in reality it is disrespectful. We are losing respect for each other and we are doing it as blindly as possible.
Just mentioning the absurdity of social media will irritate some people because they want to defend their actions. Most likely their response will be that I live in a reality that is dying. Well the fact of reality is that face to face communication is the primary source for building a trusting relationship. Social media is assisting in the destruction of peoples lives. Whereas in the face to face communication many of these aggressive people would not have the support, courage or reason to act as they do through social media.
On the global scene, would Israel have acted as they have in the past sixty years without the support of the United States (RUSA)?  Israel has now gone to social media to announce its military actions. Global terrorism is rooted in capturing people that are fragile and filling their minds with propaganda so as to turn them against others. This is corruption and aggression mixed together, which is exactly what Greece, Syria and other Middle East countries are now experiencing.
The world is a fascinating place even though there are times which frustrate people to no end. As I look around the world I see the commonalities of life taking place internationally and personally. As I have been working on corruption and aggression these past few months, I find the commonalities rather funny but there are moments where I just wish people could step back and switch off for a month or so. Maybe then peace will be just that much easier to obtain throughout the world.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hell is closing in on the Middle East

The region known as the Middle East has been incurred more poorly made decisions and political blunders than many other areas of the world. Each day brings a new piece to the chaos as everyone blames others for the violence. How long has it been since a decade of peace in this region was a reality?
The most frustrating part is that there is not one single person with enough political power willing to stand up and call for a complete and total ban of all military weapons. If there is a region in the world which must have a weapons embargo put against them, the Middle East is tops on that list. For those that disagree with this must face reality – peace has been lost to this region and not once was a weapons embargo fully implemented. For those that say everything is being done to solve this chaos, those people are clearly without sound intelligence.
Many times this topic has been discussed, written about, worked upon and still violence occurs. How many more years are we willing to watch as innocent people die because of idiotic leaders? How many more years of blaming the other side for causing the war?
There is currently a system in place to effectively deal with the violence in the Middle East, it is called Peacekeeping. Unfortunately this system has never been used properly or to a quarter of its capacity. Decade after decade we must endure garbage leadership, blaming others, doing as little as possible and we wonder why there is no peace in this area.
What exactly are we scared of? Why are we not acting with a greater degree of courage, commitment and care? Are we waiting for a complete and total collapse of the region before a true effort is made to bring peace? If we are waiting for that, we are one more day closer to that horrendous reality.
This region is full of wonderful people and culture. The sad reality is that the leadership is destroying all of it for what? The only reason I can see is hate. If a person is to be truthful to themselves, they will see that hate is only felt when you see something in others that you wish to change in yourself.
The violence in the Middle East has gone on so long that there is no longer any sides. Each and every one of the actors involved share equal responsibility. Due to this reality everyone is on the same side and they are all fighting hate.
The wars in this region have been raging for thousands of years. Sadly it may take a few more thousand years before peace will arrive. Under the current leadership that seems to be the way life will play out in this region. More talks, more weapons, more blame, more death, more chaos. At some point you would think that people would just get tired of all the violence?
All we have to wait for is the involvement of Lebanon and Jordan and we will have a full scale regional war. The momentum is moving in that direction, do we have enough courage/intelligence to at least stop that?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Get set for the power vacuum of Syria.

As the leadership of the Syrian government secures its safe passage, the leaders of the rebel groups will intensify their infighting. This is the exact scenario that Russia and China have been voicing yet the west has denied. Syria is on the verge of looking more like Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia. The reality of a regional war is becoming more a reality than ever. The threats of war between Israel and Iran will move a few steps closer to reality.  
So what do we do now?
Before the current government is completely gone there is still time to negotiate a massive international force to enter Syria. The reason for the force is to regain peace, uphold the constitution and assist with ensuring the laws of Syria. The forces should be comprised mostly of Chinese and Russian forces. Why these two? Western countries have made a mess of the area and have no credibility for maintaining peace in the region.
Those leaders that have called for the current leadership of Syria to be ousted should be put on notice for interfering with the sovereignty of Syria. All those calls have provided support to a group of rebels that are just as brutal if not more brutal than the current leadership of Syria.
What will most likely happen?
The world leaders will bicker about what do to and who is to blame. The average people/citizens of Syria will continue to pay the ultimate price. The rebel groups will increase the fighting amongst themselves. All in all, the situation in Syria will get much worse.
The real work will begin in the small communities. Hospitals, schools, markets, shops and gathering places will be the points of peace to focus on. From these areas, peace will spring up.  For the international efforts, there will be a push for aid. All the major aid donors will flock into Syria. 
There will still be high level negotiations which will mostly be a bunch of hot air that will waste more money than produce tangible results.  However, the leadership structure must be sorted out and it is better to have negotiations than a fire fight.
The unknown?
Will Iran and Israel be stupid enough to engage in war?
Will the United Nations Security Council stop acting like five year children and actually work to ensure peace?
Will the western countries stop supplying equipment to rebels?
How long will it take for a peaceful Syria to return?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Capitalism: Has it failed?

Capitalism deals mainly with having the economy as the driving indicator of success. Basically if the economy is going well so does everything else. That theory is difficult to deny until the people are no longer willing or able to continuously consume. Constant consumption is a capitalists dream and that need to consume has also brought the current economic situation to life. One factor that we must be in complete understanding of is the fact that capitalism has always been mixed with socialism. This mix has recently been a model that many countries are looking to perfect.
Working in post conflict areas, the idea of market or economic focused society is an area of great concern. However, it is not the top concern. The need for jobs is always present in every society. More importantly is the desire to be a part of society, to indulge in the composition of what makes a society vibrant, safe, fun, and adventurous. These qualities are not born out of capitalism, they transcend every and all economic theories.
There has been a slow move towards socialism as the pursuits of capitalism have wreaked havoc. In fairness the economic situation around the globe can only be blamed on the people that are operating the system of capitalism. That exact statement about the blame being on the people that operate the system, can be made about communism in the late 1980’s. It was not communism or capitalism that failed – it is us, the people that fail.
We must stop putting blame on the differing systems and focus on the true factors of social breakdown. The only factor that counts is the people who are operating the system. For years China has operated as a communist ideology which is now the powerhouse of economics in the world. Even when we look at the model of capitalism which has been the RUSA, socialist ideology sprang up during the 1930’s with the formation of unions.
Looking at the ideology of free market capitalist economies and government regulation there is the reality that a free market is not in the best interest of society. In a free market monopolies will eventually take over. This has lead governments to mandate the creation of competition by breaking up a monopoly or allowing other actors into the market.  With such examples we can see how capitalism has been practices, to a point.
There is a great desire to blame the system or use the moniker “they”. In truth there is no they, and the system is us. We are experimenting to find the perfect balance. In that effort we employ differing methods, systems and ideology. We must keep in mind that no matter what style or composition we come up with, in the end it will always come down to the people who are tasked with its operation.

Friday, October 26, 2012

peace in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya

Transformative peace in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya will take considerable effort. There is no doubt in the effort needed, what will always be an unknown is how long peace will take. There can be no timeframe set out before because there are too many variables.
It will only take one act of massive violence to dislodge months or years of peace work in any of the countries mentioned above. We often hear about the atrocities being committed by the Syrian government yet very few of the equally horrible atrocities committed by the rebels. Think about it for a moment, how do we know it was a member of the Syrian army that set off a bomb? All the rebel factions and the government forces are using the same make of weapons. Furthermore, the rebel factions are very much against each other as well. There is an internal fight for which rebel group is going to take power once the current government falls. With that each rebel group gains ground if they stage attacks on other rebel positions so that it looks like the Syrian government is the aggressor. There are just too many questions and to be answered and there is little to no trust in anyone during such situations.
Looking at Afghanistan we have known for the past year or so that complete chaos is the most likely reality in 2015. More and more news reports are coming out that indicate failure of almost every project to sustain peace in Afghanistan. Also the reports we read point to a very dire need for international forces to remain. Unfortunately that need is going to fall on deaf ears as the violence grows. The lack of political will has cemented a strong understanding in the minds of terrorist that the worlds military powers can and have been defeated. That is a terrible reality for the entire world.
In Libya, the unrest with tribal conflicts and a strong belief that the government is doing nothing has made peace very difficult. There are calls for lengthy Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, Disarmament programs still need to take place and strong political leadership has not happened. These three issues are front and centre yet there are very little solutions which the people believe in. There still exists a great distrust of all politicians and tribes which are seen as lining pockets and power hungry.
Iraq has experienced many problems since the end of the occupation. Sectarian politics has once again gripped the country as it did during Saddam Hussein. The reality is that life is more insecure today than it was 15 years ago. What is even more troubling is that there seems to be no change in the near future.
Societies are elements of life which move slowly to the requests/desires of the people, even though a society is made up of the people. Such a reality is a mind trap of understanding which usually ends with that average person being frustrated. Sometimes that frustration turns into violence. To transform a society the focus needs to be on the point where frustration is resulting in violence. That is the tipping point of peace.
Being frustrated is a positive element as it indicates a deep concern of the individual for positive results. The major obstacle in the transformation is to reach each person’s goals and time frame. Another point which is in dire need of understanding is the reality of how long peace takes. Weeks, months and years are rarely enough, even a decade is short term. For a violent society to change, the vision is for a generation of people to pass through. Still the need for strong, trusted leadership and clear vision is needed more than actual peace within the first few years after violent conflict.Even though I stated that there is no time frame, peace theory speculates that a generation of people needs to turn over for lasting peace to take root. In the cases of the countries listed above, the end date for combat/peace operations should be 2043 at the earliest.
 That amount of time will provide the people ample opportunity to build, educate and experience the transformation of society. Such a time frame will allow the people room to discuss how they want to live as country of people, not just as tribes or sectarian groups. Such a long term plan allows the people to understand who they are going to be and how they will live. Those elements are the roots of transformative peace. What we are experiencing now in the countries named is a cycle of violence.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Two worlds, peace or war?

We are all witnessing the transition of Libya and Afghanistan as each struggles with the chaos of post-conflict life. For some reason, peacebuilding mission have an extreme challenge with communication as it pertains to the growth and success of peacebuilding programs.
It is not enough to build a school, have an election or even pass laws. There has to be mutual care and respect for each other. With the recent shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai is a strong indication that peace is very far away in the region where Afghanistan is. In Libya the second Prime Minister in as many months is proof that the society is still fighting for control. In each of these situations there is a strong need for communication to the average person. Even though that is well known, there exist a “catch 22”.
The catch 22 is this; the people need to experience peace in order to be peaceful, so if the larger society is not at peace how can the individual be at peace? This reality was very clear to Harold Laski during the 1920’s, “Self-expression is thwarted at the root unless the certainties we are asked to accept coincide with the certainties we experience.”[1] As the tribal/clan fractionalized societies of both Libya and Afghanistan continue to fight, that makes peace more challenging for the individual to accept.
One of the largest problems with peacebuilding is the almost insane desire to jump right into a democratic society. The task of rebuilding is an enormous one. Just taking the weapons out of the hands of the people is a challenge. At the same time you have to deal with the hatred, corruption, destroyed infrastructure and many other large scale projects. The need for immediate elections is one that I believe has been over rated.
The best thing for a country that is fresh out of a violent conflict is to be ruled with absolute safety first and that is basically a police state run by a coalition of nationals mixed equally with international donors. This is an imperfect situation but the safety of the society needs to be protected first. Part of that safety is trusting the people that are elected. In post conflict societies there have been more than enough examples of corrupt politicians. Even in peaceful countries corrupt politicians are easy to find.
Afghanistan will take decades more time to have it as a peaceful country. Libya has a greater chance of obtaining peace quicker due to the very short war which took place. However the tribal issues are similar in both countries and each carry the same prospects of destroying what little peace exist.
 Living in a peaceful society really does need everyone to believe in the peaceful society. In a conflict zones that is very difficult but it has to be accomplished, even if one person at a time. It must be well known that peace is very fragile. A person that cheats on their spouse only furthers the destruction of society, as such actions destroy respect and trust. That is how fragile peace is. “We are becoming more and more dependent on each other and let us hope this will lead to our understanding and respecting each other better.”[2]

When we look at the shooting of an innocent girl, that entire conflict should come into focus. Why that war takes place, why the thousands of girls who met with similar actions need to be defended. Furthermore we must see and understand the connections between Amanda Todd and  Malala Yousufzai. Thinking of these two girls and the torments that surrounds their lives just makes me wonder, what will it take for people to wake up and understand how fragile peace is, how destructive we can be and how mindlessly selfish we act. These two girls will most likely be forgotten within five months, which has more to do with the mentality of people today but the circumstances that surrounds them will be front and centre.
The world can be cruel but that is a personal choice. When it all comes down to answering why it is that way, take the deepest look at your own life.

[1] Laski, Harold J. The Dangers of Obedience and Other Essays. Harper & Row, 1930. Pg. 29.
[2] Fry, Douglas P. The Human potential for peace: An Anthropological Challenge to Assumptions about War and Violence. Oxford University Press, 2006. Pg.,247.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Is the pursuit of peace insane?

For those that live in a society where peace, order and good governance is as ordinary as the sun shine, it is difficult for those people to truely understand the ease in which chaos and hell could emerge then become the new normal. For those that live in a society where chaos and hell are ordinary the struggle for peace is almost an impossible dream. For the most part those people are correct, peace is almost impossible while forces work to ensure chaos and hell remain. Afghanistan is one such place.

Afghanistan has not known very many peaceful moments for generations. At the outset of the current war and just three years ago the political leaders of the International Security Forces were promising to remain in Afghanistan until the job was done. Now the leaders are saying the job is done, that is complete garbage and these leaders know it is.

If you can not handle the commitment do not even get involved. Why lie and decieve the people of Afghanistan into thinking they have a reliable friend when you are planning on leaving them to twist in the wind? This short sightedness and lack of courage to hold true to a commitment is indicative of society today in a great many ways. It is similar to the over used jargon of BFF, which is to be Best Friends Forever yet it is more flavour of the month. The hypocrisy is rampant and spreading fast throughout the world.

We have countries being ripped apart because the weapon makers can not stop bringing their goods into areas of combat. Furthermore, countires that speak about sovereighty, rule of law, protecting civilians and other such grand platitudes are also implicated in supporting the violent destruction of many societies, such as Syria and Iraq.

I know the popular phrase within defense circles is, "well there is not much you can do when they come on to you." This philosophy is so backward and ignorant that it just makes you wonder if peace is ever going to come to the entire world. At this moment I turn inward and let my own mind be calm even though the world around me is insane.

Such moments are when I need to walk around and see the small miracles of happiness. Children playing, smiles on those that I greet and finally to realize that I am at peace within myself. I have worked very hard to reach this state and often times people will try to take advantage of that. Even in those moments I realize that the person has no mindset to formulate any better options. As I think of that person, I relate that individual with world leaders who act with idiocy.

The world is full of complications, if it were not it would be very boring. Each person has their own path to make. I trust that everyone is doing their best to ensure that life is peaceful. However I have experienced enough to understand the impact of insanity.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Religion, hatred and individuality

It is hard to resist writing about the current uprising to the movie about Islam. Religion has been a breeding ground for war as far back as I know. The one item that is always being missed here is the foundations of most religions is peace, so why so much violence? We are dealing with people that have a great deal of anger within them. No matter what religion these people who kill in the name of God follow, they are first and foremost violent people.
One of the most difficult facets of life for all people is the reality that each of us has the capacity to think and do whatever each of us wants to do. Most of us abide by laws and respect other cultures/religion. We act with this respect towards each other because we choose a peaceful life full of enjoyment. However, there are some of us that live with differing realities and some destroy peace.  
On the topic of religion, I follow a religion that has the same roots as Islam. Within those roots are the Ten Commandments. One of those Commandments is to not praise false Gods. Well money certainly has done that and to some degree so has patriotism. To some degree a portrait, cartoon or movie can be interpreted as a false image. There is another piece that I have learned and that is people who are not part of my religion do not have to follow its rules.
There seems to be a global manifest destiny project going one here. There is only one way, religion, mindset, governance model or path to peace/heaven. To be honest, I am not sure which way is the right way. I do know that I will always act peacefully and respectfully to everyone I encounter, no matter if they think I am going to hell or not.
This entire situation of Islamic rioting and killing is pure insanity in my opinion, it is not the Islam I trust and support. In correlation, the current fighting in Syria is not a representation of the Syrian people I trust and support. For the most part, the people of this world are wonderfully welcoming and peaceful.
Although, we are experiencing tough circumstances in both economics and politics globally. These two components have pushed people to act in desperation. This desperation is due mostly to the severe lack of solid leadership around the world. We have been adrift for decades without strong visionaries of peace, wisdom and equality.
We must demand more of our leaders, more importantly of ourselves. The new world we are making is making neighbours of us all. A single act of hatred is the frontline of every war we have ever fought and ever will fight. We do not have to convince others to change religions, countries or governance styles but, we must act in such a manner where violence and hatred are only thoughts that we experience with extreme rarity of physical experience.
Some day we may live in such a world, we have made great strides towards that day in the past sixty years. We have more to go. I will work my hardest to reach that day. Until then, I am sorry for each person who must act with violence and hatred to prove a point or try to change my mind.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cyber crime, technology and peace

In many ways we have made the world more peaceful than it has ever been for as long as most of us can recall. With that advent of peace, we have a population which we never had before either.  Couple the large population with the spread of information we know have. Ever since the invention of wireless communication in 1901, information has spread across the globe almost instantly. We have greater numbers of people and more information which makes the perception of a violent world more real.
Cyber crime has been reported to have happened to 86% of Canadians. These are crimes of phishing scams through the use of social media, email, electronic hacking, credit card fraud, etc…  Each crime is reported on average to cost $160.00. It turns out that “catching a virus” is part of that static. In the most basic terminology a virus was created to cause harm or at least a disturbance. In this regard has cyber crime lowered the amount of peace we experience?
It is rather annoying and can be devastating when your computer/devices crash. Most of us are aware of the risks though. We are aware that the internet is full of scammers, so is society. This why we see ads for lawyers, mechanics, moving companies, contractors and many other professions loudly state you can trust them. There is a growing desire for professional organizations to have members take oaths. Trust has been the main platform of every politician that seeks office.
Has technology lowered the amount of peace we experience? That question is very complex when you dig deeply into our world. Rates of obesity have increased which has brought untold health issues, highly processed foods and of course we have to list the impact of industry and perhaps climate change as well. Very soon the mind can get paralysed with anxiety as the entire picture of reality comes into focus.
As a holistic mindset takes shape, it should be clear the issue is not technology, it is us the people. How we interact with each other is the common denominator. It is as basic as two people starting out in a relationship, do you trust that person to hold your interests equally as they do their own or do you feel that they will cause harm to your heart? How much do you trust?
Further to trust, how much do you believe in the peacefulness of others? That is the old question “are people born good or evil”? These are questions that everyone must decide themselves, have their own answers/reasons. For me, although I have had my heart torn to shreds many times, I still believe that everyone is here to help me reach my dreams. Those that have caused harm have only told me that I am on the wrong path.
How much do you trust technology? Advancements are part of life for us. The wheel itself has been and continues to be a vital component to many great destructive acts yet we do not chastise that invention. Technology is a tool which we use that has differing outcomes. Many outcomes we have no clue what the impact will be. Just like entering in a relationship, you have no clue what will become of it, sometimes you wish you never even went down that path. Just ask the people of Japan and their experience with atomic energy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Canada has made a mistake

Being a peaceful person is not an easy path. Often you get labelled as being soft, weak or not understanding the reality of the world. Such has been the label I have encountered these past few weeks, while talking about the manner in which the Canadian Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister have been conducting themselves. In particular the closing of the Iranian Embassy, strongly backing Israel, complaining about the United Nations, telling Russia how they should act in regards to their Middle East policy and the situation in Syria.
Within these events the Prime Minister of Canada is being awarded a Statesman of the Year award. Now it so happens that on that very day, the Prime Minister of Canada has decided to snub the United Nations. It seems a bit ironic that someone would receive such an award while actively work to enrage Iran, Russia and the entire Arab region. A true statesman would be able to work more effectively and been seen as an asset to world peace rather than a thorn. The amount of damage this government has caused in the past month has certainly made every Canadians life that much more insecure. Even more so if a Canadian is working in the Middle East.
The closing of the embassy in Iran does have its merits. There is some truth that Iran has threatened Iranian-Canadians, has executed Iranian-Canadians and is known to support terrorism. The reality is that the RUSA has done the exact thing yet we still keep very strong ties with them. Of course we do not live in a world where equality based on law, reason and action is all that common.
A peaceful person would have sat down with the leaders of these countries and worked to solve problems. But that is usually laughed at with the reason being, “You can not talk to these people”. That is true, especially when you do not even want to. That stream of reason for not talking to the leaders becomes even more insane when put into the reality of how any peace agreement is made.
To get any peace agreement at all, at some point you have to talk to warlords. It has been my experience that a peace agreement is much easier if you are understood as a person that is willing to understand and work with the others ideology. At this time it must be understood that you can disagree with the methods a leader is using. What you can not do is break off communication, no matter how frustrated you get. Without face to face discussions, peace is nearly impossible and often chaos results.
There is also an element of trust that has to be addressed. There are very few countries I trust to act with Canada’s interest in mind. In, turn that leads to the security threat to our country as well. That is a very disheartening situation to live with but that is the reality. I would rather live within a reality where I can trust others to act peacefully so that I am not constantly being on guard, alas violence is an option used quickly and too often.
Looking at the closing of our embassy in Iran is understandable yet I do not agree with such tactics. Again I know that it sounds terrible but peace is only made through great efforts and at some point you must work with the worst people imaginable to secure peace.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weight of Reason

In the past year we have seen the hope and wonderful energy of the Jasmine Revolution as it spawned into the Arab Spring. That energy has now been spent yet the work to build the vision that once thrived is still needed. Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Egypt are still engulfed in unknown circumstances as each country is in a different state heading towards chaos. How will all of this end up?
No one has a clear vision of what will be the ultimate outcome. There will be more violence, more death and more political speeches/scolding from all sides. The rhetoric coming from all sides while the average person pays the ultimate price is just stupid. One of the worst casualties has been the loss of the reasonable voice and the largest criminals are those that are entrusted to hold the peace, the Permanent Five(P5) members of the United Nations Security Council (RUSA, China, UK, France and Russia).
The violence in Libya and Egypt may not have been preventable but what is taking place in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain certainly could have been averted. It would have been a difficult task yet it was possible. However we sat back and allowed the fight to grow and here we are on the edge of complete collapse for many families, societies, and governments.
Somehow Yemen and Bahrain have been able to keep a tight hold of information getting out to the mainstream media (so much for social media hype). If we are to believe the rhetoric which speaks to the desire to end the violence we must take a serious look at how we deal with such situations. Once again I must advocate for the complete demilitarization of the Middle East. If not the entire region then let us have the courage to start with Syria.
The argument that bringing in United Nations Peacekeeper’s (UNPK) is an act that breaks sovereignty is one that I have recently found as very weak. An invasion of foreign forces that breaks sovereignty is one that usurps all laws and constitutional rights of the people, like what is happening in Iraq.  UNPK’s are bound to abide by and assist in enforcing existing laws within a country of operation. They are there to bolster the ability of a battered government to hold peace and sovereignty not break or destroy it.
Now it is a lamentable fact but putting UNPK’s in Yemen or Bahrain will provide little stability within the Middle East. Putting them in Syria however would, if only to patrol and lock down the boarders. If that is the least mandated effort then we can let the fight play out and finish as fast as possible. If that sounds too harsh, understand that the number of lives lost will be greatly reduced and humanitarian aid will be administered quicker.  I understand that human rights violations will take place but that is going on right now anyway. Basically all I am putting to you is the reality of reason, if you want to fight, fight, but leave those alone that want no part of it other than for the end to arrive as soon as possible.
We need to stand up and start speaking truth to power here. Someone has to bring the weight of reason to the P5 as they are equal in responsibility for weaponizing  the region, assisting in its instability and then having the audacity to say they have had no hand in doing so. Has anyone heard of proxy wars, Syria is just that.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cost of social media

I have and still do a great deal of backpacking. Not the kind where you travel on buses and sleep in hostels but the kind where you walk, climb and live in forests, mountains and be as remote as a person can get. Due to these activities I know what it takes to pack all your needs for weeks at a time into a single pack. I know that one litre of fuel will cook two meals a day for two weeks at the most, depending on altitude. When I learned that a single internet search uses the equivalent energy as boiling two cups of water my brain started to spin concerning the topic of externalities of cost.

Externalities of cost deals with the hidden impacts of the economy, factory farms were my first introduction to this issue back in 2005 with this cartoon:

From then on I began to look at the connections to how we live and the impacts of those actions. One such item was the invention of the remote control, as I have mentioned in a previous posting. As time has gone by I have noticed the strong desire/pressure to be connected, which is to have some sort of technology turned on so that you can be a part of the world. The impact of all these devices is that we are using more energy than ever before to achieve similar results.

The reality of life remains that the most important communication style is in person. The comical reality is that we waste more energy on the less important technological connections. Factor in the wasteful use of energy to keep all these devices operating. Each internet search uses enough energy to boil two cups of water, how many internet searches does the average person make a day? To guess I would say enough to fill the average hot water tank. For all these devices to work we must constantly consume which is an oxymoron in the face of science which tells us to conserve. 

As you may have guesses I am not a strong believer in social media . I see the use of such devices being overhyped. Moreover, I see those that are addicted to these devices as being brainwashed and weak minded. These people have thwarted their own personal freedom without even knowing it. Even worse is that they are wasting more energy than ever before. We were sold these devices on the platform of convenience and emergency services. Those platforms still hold true but there is a large snake oil sales pitch held within those platforms. “A standardized machine/technology degrades the craftsman more and more to a person who fulfills a purely repetitive routine.[1]

The externality of social media has degraded information sharing to the point where we must sift through a mountain of garbage to find the slightest of wisdom. Add to this the judgemental mindset that has evolved which states that a person who is not connected is out of touch.  Truly, the medium is the message and we are losing the message under a pile of useless information being broadcast in social media.

[1] Laski, Harold J. The Dangers of Obedience. Harper & Row, 1930. Pg. 26.