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.

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