Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reaching Inner Peace

There are times in my writings where inner peace is mentioned. Having inner peace is crucial to global peace. Yet there is always the question of how to find that inner peace. There a multitude of websites to gather information and now this article is another. At the very base of being peaceful is the decision to be so. From there each of us will become peaceful and be very skillful as well. Another part of peace is that each of us has all the tools within us already. The task is to be diligent with being peaceful at every moment. Being peaceful begins at the very first moment of waking up. Be aware of the first thoughts for that day. How do you feel about these thoughts? What is the purpose of these thoughts? Do you feel in control of your life? Each of those questions relate to how a person thinks and feels about life. No matter what circumstances a person may have to deal with, the mindset of that person will be the most important part of that equation. This mindset is also known as a person spirituality or belief. At this point most people think of the religions of the world. However spirituality has very little to do with religion. Spirituality is all about the inner most values a person holds and defends. In this world many people do have money as the ultimate value and they put all their faith into the pursuit of that. For those such people, everything comes down to monetary gain. For others life is about friends. There are some that live for the moment and others believe in an eternal life. For some there is a deep connection to everything. There is also the religion component, which speaks to a path of inner peace. Reaching inner peace is an everyday decision. Each step you take is one more closer to that dream point of happiness. How long it takes depends on the person and there is no one clear way, other than taking each day a choosing to see life in a peaceful light. It takes very little effort to discover the prayers, mantras, meditation guides or sub conscience altering methods that relate to obtaining inner peace. Each one makes the point of staying focused on daily tasks and keeping a positive mindset. All of these elements do help. However, the basic point is that none of those work unless the individual decides to be peaceful everyday To reach the point of inner peace, make the decision at every moment you feel you are not at peace to be peaceful – do so because it is what you want to do. Being peaceful is a choice that should always put confidence in your heart and a smile on your face. It is doing the best you can and knowing it is your best.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Live in Peace

The process of rebuilding society or peace has many pitfalls. As issues are being dealt with there will be points where past wrongs are brought to the surface. At such a point fresh wounds or even old wounds can reopen. Depending on how strong the people are, these wounds can provoke fresh violence. For those that study peacebuilding, understanding this risk is a must, yet the process must take place. For the critic of peacebuilding such a point will bolster their argument that peacebuilding is an impossible task and war must be played out. Allowing war to take place is a failure of our courage and intelligence to be peaceful. This was the final message of Nelson Mandela as it was of all the great peacemakers. Yet we often put aside those words of wisdom and stake our hopes in violence as a solution. An example is lived everyday within the chaos in the Middle East. There is no place in the world that would benefit more from complete deweaponization than the Middle East. Sadly there is very little hope for such a wise act to take place because fear rules in the Middle East. Too many people will bring up wars that took place months ago, then years, decades, centuries and even millennia. A peace process is one that makes certain (as much as possible) that all wrongs have been addresses. Due to the number of people involved the process is very complex and time consuming. As we have experienced, such a process can take decades or even centuries to complete. This time factor is another reason many say peacebuilding is not worth the effort and wars should be allowed to play out, the last one standing type thought. Such an attitude is how we find ourselves in protracted wars such as the Middle East chaos. How do we get from the point of chaos to a place of peace? As mentioned at the start of this article, we must acknowledge the reality of risk. The dangers of falling back into chaos will only delay the inevitable process of peace. The tough part is to have the majority of the people believe that the peace process is worth the effort. Also it must be continuously communicated how fragile peace is. For example World War One began with a single event and we are still living the impact of that moment. The war that ripped apart Yugoslavia had elements which reached as back as that moment and even further. Most of the violence could have been displaced had we allowed for the courage of peace to take root. Going further into the realm of fear we must take into account the recent issues of spying. Such acts are rooted in fear not peace. Although many will argue that the information gathered is essential for peace, the argument is a spiral of reason circled around fear. For peace to take root, fear must put aside. Of course the usual answer is that such people do not live in the real world. Well what about the Nelson Mandela that we all pay tribute to and wish to be? What about Vaclav Havel, Ghandi, or the icons of religion? Each live in this world that has endured violence, corruption, hatred and the spiral of fear. Each put their fears behind them and pushed on to live in peace. Each went through the process of peace and understood the daily attacks that must be seen in a different way than fear can allow. The pitfalls of peace are real but to give into the chaos of fear will only delay violence. The element that we need in the world is a stronger belief in peace. We have lived for thousands of years in fear, built armies to protect us, bombs to eradicate enemies and organizations to spy on everyone. Although we have made some steps towards peace, the most success has come from non-violent methods.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Believe in Faith and Peace

Working to achieve the peaceful state of being is a goal many will never reach. The reasons why many will not find is peace can be summed up in a simple phrase – lack of faith. I am not talking about a religious component in life. What I am pointing out is the personal commitment to be peaceful. Within that personal commitment we must understand that peace for you may not be peace for another. To truly be peaceful, that reality must be understood. Along with that personal understanding or peace comes the broader realm of living a non-threating life. When it comes to violence, war, weapons and protection from such, peace is often misrepresented. Now, a peaceful person has no need for weapons because there is no need to fear anyone. However there is the reality of insanity of those that do fear and do carry weapons. What does a peaceful person do then? Depending on how much faith you have in yourself will determine if you need a weapon or not. We have recently experienced the passing of Nelson Mandela. This man was once a very violent person. After 27 years in jail he renounced violence as he understood that it accomplished very little. Nelson Mandela believed in peace so much that he no longer had faith in the phrase, peace by any means possible. Peace must be found from within first. From there, the reality of peaceful relations with others is rooted in communication, trust and understanding. For example if you walk up to a bear that has cubs, you should understand and trust that bear will put up a fight. However the bear will most likely seek to scare you first and avoid any physical confrontation. But if the communication is not clear violence will be a result. The same with people. In the realm of interpersonal communication we have many layers. There is the person to person (you and me), group to group (gangs and police) and country to country (allies and enemies). In such matches we have used guns, knives, bombs and chemicals to fight each other. Alfred Nobel created a weapon he thought was powerful enough to end wars. That proved to be wrong. We created nuclear weapons which have done very little to stop war. The piece we often forget is that every war starts and ends with a discussion. With that understanding, the one area we need to improve on is our communication, not methods of killing. We need to focus on relationships guided by kindness rather than fear.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Being at Peace/Being Peaceful

There is a very popular conception that peace means non-violence. Johan Galtung has coined that perception as negative peace. To be fully understanding of peace is to know that violence is part of life. If you disagree, I suggest you go ask any women that has given birth about that process. Then try to understand a world without that form of violence. Being at peace is very much a mental state of understanding and being. Peace is about finding the proper methods of releasing emotions in a manner that promotes a healthy, secure and balanced environment. A peaceful state of mind puts a person in the position to understand, we did not create violence nor did we create emotions. These are realities of which we do have control in an inner personal ground but no further. Peace is very much about personal control, knowing when to allow insanity to reign and when to be violent and always to love. To put this into a framework, think about sports, hockey and football (soccer). The competition is to beat the other team. The fans get excited and are often mentioned as going insane. During these time there are emotions of hatred, love, exuberance along with the glory of victory and the agony of defeat. There was also the 1969 Football war between Honduras and El Salvador. There was more to it than just a sporting match yet that match ignited a political war. Then there is the global impact of the 1972 hockey Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. That story of peace has rarely been researched deep enough to give it credit. Politics is a community parallel to the individual emotional turmoil that takes place everyday. Knowing how to ensure a peaceful balance is the goal of being peaceful. It is a chess match within your own mind. There are moments of frustration and both the individual and the community need to have outlets for that frustration. If there are no peaceful avenues for such outlets, unwanted/unneeded harm will be caused.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

finding peace in chaos

As we move through life there are many times when we just wish that we could be swept up and taken to a place of our dreams. No more so is that a desire than when we are faced with very painful and unwanted times in our lives. In such times, on both a large scale and individual scale we have a very high chance to experience violence and wars. How do we find peace when in such situations? In the study of peace and conflict there are many methods of control that are presented on a theoretical basis. In the larger realm of society all of the theories can be summed up as a peaceful state of being. What does this mean? Being at peace with the world is a popular phrase. Actually being at peace takes a great deal of energy and practice. However there are simple methods to help obtain some semblance of order during chaos. One such method is to name the situation you are experiencing and ask why you are in that state. Of course this is not useful when an outside force is the cause of unrest such as war, sickness or any other sort of disaster. Yet in such situations the inner peace method of asking yourself how you are feeling does bring a calmness of mind when panic sets in. The other part of being at peace is to know what you can and cannot control. For many there is a strong desire to say that we must stop such events as war. In reality war and violence will never end. We did not invent war, violence or pain. Such realities exist without us even being alive. What we need is to be aware and be in control of how we understand and act during such events that bring us to extremes of existence. During such times you may not be able to control the causes and impacts of events but you can control your own self. Ultimately that is all you have to be in control of. Being in control of yourself allows you to see clear and understand as many options as possible. One method that helps with this is called Reflective Practice. Simply what this entails is for you to ask yourself how you are feeling and what changes you want to make. Then you make the changes and the process begins as you gauge the progress towards a peaceful solution. The inner part takes a great deal of effort and mental capacity. This effort is not helped when the belief sets in that everyone is against you. Changing that perception is a must for a peaceful world to be a reality. Often the statement of “Why does everything have to be so difficult?” is used in times of stress. Such times have been classified by Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 or dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t situation. During such moments a reflective process will ask that you set out a plan and then do that plan. There is also a point of relief that somewhere there is someone that is willing and able to help. There always is support and during times of panic or stress you are not clear of mind to see or understand that support. As you move through these times you will become aware that the vision of what you once thought was the solution may have changed. These are the self teaching moments which are so important. When we understand that outcomes and solutions are future based, we can change it. We are able to correctly guess how events will play out based upon prior experience. Yet, having this knowledge allows us to change things and have different outcomes. This is the reflective practice. Otherwise we exist in ruts and apathy will consume us. Part of the inner peace ideology is that we are creative and we have control over many things. We control how we act and respond to others. Mastering those two parts of yourself is a very large step towards inner peace.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Average people sustain peaace

Sustainable peace is best secured when the average person is involved in the process. That sentiment is the root ideology of democracy. However we have been witness to certain democratic countries acting with complete disregard of how their action lead to violent chaos. Such moments have been framed in moralistic terms as freedom fighters, securing weapons of mass destruction and ending brutal regimes. When the choice is made to act violently, the justification often is that the ends justify the means. In such reasoning the calculation of future retaliation is rarely factored in. What takes place is the blissful rhetoric of democracy. Violent wars have long term impacts that must be made aware of. The physical damage is easily repaired, such as buildings, roads and infrastructure. The wounded soldiers are rarely thought of and if they are it is an afterthought. The pain felt by those who lost will last for generations. Then there are the weapons that stay behind - unexploded bombs, mines and bullets. Rarely are the external costs of war factored into the budget of how much war costs. Far beyond the monetary expenses we neglect the spiritual, mental and generational costs. Such wounds are still be healed from wars that have been waged thousands of years ago. Religious wars are an example of such realities. More recently we have wars such as are taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, India, Columbia and elsewhere. Each place has been engaged in war and retaliation even in the face of knowing that killing will only prolong the fight. At some point there has to be the resolve to know that enough destruction has taken place and peace will only happen when the violence ends. This is a choice that needs to be made and it is a very difficult choice. Such a choice is rooted in the understanding that your children deserve to play in safety, peace, love and understanding. Places such as Syria have let go of that reality. Now the people must live with the scars of war for eternity. There will always be the memory of war and there will always be a loser and a winner in some minds. For those who know the complete impact of war understand there is no winner, just a pile of misery, loss and destruction. Peace is the most difficult path to take and yet it is all too often branded as the weakest path. The mentality of peace being the weakest path is one that needs to stop. It will only stop when the individual begins to see the benefits of peace rather than the rhetoric of war glory. Each of us has a responsibility to be peaceful. When each of us works to be peaceful then we will all understand the glory of peace instead of war. Peace is a choice and each of us has their part to make peace sustainable.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The War to End All Wars, Peace

Every year at this time there are ceremonies which focus our attention on the lives lost during war. Each year we have more names to add and more wars to mark. Even though the list of names grows we (United Nations members) are improving at the containment of violence. At times it does not seem so but that has more to do with the spread of information than actual violence. Every year we talk about the insanity of war, the chaos of battle and the hellish misery of destruction we wage against each other. Each side fights for the same reason which is rooted in ideology. That ideology is to live as we want to live. Every so often we have places like Syria come to a boiling point. Such anarchy could have been stopped if we had the courage to stop it. However we failed. We now have thousands of more names to list in memory of why war is an all cost effort. We ask why efforts for peace were so difficult that we must kill each other? The only answer is witnessed in the heart of darkness, we fail at peace because of insanity. For those that seek peaceful methods of resolve, they are faced with ridicule from those who call themselves realists. Well the reality is that every war will end with a discussion. We have the failures of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Israel, Palestine and Democratic Republic of Congo to see how killing each other has solved our problems. All too often people state that the WWII as an example of violence working. If that were true then why has Israel and Palestine continued fighting. The only thing the ended with WWII is the scale of violence, not the ideology which started it or the act of war. We can choose peace but first we must understand how to control the insanity which allows war to happen. Violence and hatred are part of us we just have to be smart and wise enough to control how we use such emotions.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Power in too few hands

Whenever there is too much power held by too few the risks become too great. The recent government shutdown in the Republic of the United States is just one example of why diversity is good. This lesson has been taught to us when dictators, kings, or equivalent people fall suddenly. The same goes for world wide systems as well. The world has a great amount of work to rework both the political and economic powers around the world. With the recent fear that shook the world concerning the shutdown of the RUSA government, each of us has been given a warning about having too much power invested in one place. The world must work to divest this power and become more equal. Equality is a pursuit that has been a goal for centuries. Now that we are aware of how much good comes from achieving equality how can we not achieve more. There is no need to have so much economic power invested in one country. Nor is there any need to have so much power invested in five members of the Security Council. We are better than this and for us not to change these systems is failing future generations of a peaceful world. Each country must begin to make trade agreements and financial agreements with other countries. Stock markets based in African countries, South American countires and elsewhere need to be built and improved upon. We can no longer be held hostage by one country. This situation will only continue to happen as long as we allow power to be placed in too few hands. Of course there will be a great amount of work to be done but peace is worth it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Trust and peace

Each of us understands how it feels to have trust questioned. When war or violence breaks out the individual goes through a break in trust of everything and everyone. Rebuilding that trust is the most difficult part of peace. The hate and anger that is brought on by the break in peace, which the individual carries, needs to have an outlet. Each of us must find a postive outlet. However one method of dealing with broken trust for some is revenge. Recently, one of the projects I have been involved with had experienced a break in, robbery and destruction. Now we must move on with the pain of the violence fresh. The physical damage is rarely worse than the emotional and social damage. There is also the reality that everyone is going to be questioned in your mind as you try to solve the break in peace. Peacebuilding programs are built upon providing support and structure to peoples lives. The hardest cases are the ones that need the most attention. Such cases will continue to break the peace until something happens where they understand that such a tactic no longer is a good choice. How do we give people more support when they have just taken so much away? This question deals with the essence of peacebuilding. To build peace youmust have hope beyond the seeable future. You have to be able to see and live beyond the pain of today. You must be able to live and feel the future in which you are building. Furthermore you must prepare for even greater breaks in trust. The possibility of even more pain being caused is a reality that you must prepare for but work to end. Some people will take all they can and still seek to be supported. Now we have to prepare eachother to give more support. The reason is that this support will also be heard and felt by those that break the peace. Even in the face of providiing more support you must realize that you can be hurt even more. This is the point where you want to stand tall, strong and yell "Why did you create such a hell hole of anger and pain"? "WHY, why, why"?O ften the answer is "Because no one cares anyway". That is why we must always give more. Sadly we live in a world where many of the leaders believe the efforts to rebuild both society and the individual are best sought through revenge. "We must make them pay for what they did". This thought process will just spiral into what we have in Israel and Palestine. At some point we must see through the hell we create and begin to see a different method to solve breaks in the peace. Further violence has rarely worked and not nearly enough for us to continue to use it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Credibility comes from the past

In many posts I have made note of how history gets in the way of peace. Often I use the Palestine/Israeli war as an example of how history blurrs the progress of peace. So here we are having to listen to certain leaders talking about standing up for law and citizens in Syria yet wanting to bomb the very same people. The invasion of Iraq is and was just as deplorable as using chemical weapons in Syria. Thus the credibility of those who invaded Iraq must hold themselves to the same standard as they hold Syria. In that light we must ask where is the consequences for those that invaded Iraq? Now the political option for solving Syria is ever present. What is missing is the diligent work to be done behind the cameras. A two or four hour meeting with high level representatives will not solve the Syrian war. The onbly way Syria will return to peace is a group of people that are focused on the return of peace order and good governance to Syria. At the moment it is just an adhoc group with no clear leadership or direction. The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council will always play cold war childish games. This leaves the ngo community and middle power countries to step up. The situation in Syria is of such concern that the G20 meeting was derailed because of it. We were to get some agreements on dollar valuation, global economic policy to deal with coruption and tax evasion. Very little of this was accomplished at the the recent G20. It seems as though the world is drifting aimlessly and there is no one on the horizon that seems capable of leading. All we can do is just keep working away at peace, somehow we will get there. It just seems a very long and difficult road.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Syrian Solution

The situation in Syria was allowed to happen. The illegal weaponisation of the rebels along with the poor control of the borders are issues that should have been locked down two years ago. Here we are today wasting energy on debating whether or not a military strike should be allowed. The single largest effort to resolve this issue should be the complete control of weapons going into Syria – there should be a complete halt on all weapons going into Syria immediately. Pointing fingers, blaming and seeking out who is responsible for the gas attack needs to stop. There is not one country that is blame free. This is our world and we allowed Syria to destroy itself because we did not have the courage to do what we all know had to be done. Still we are arguing over how to resolve the situation. Enough blood has been shed. Lock down the borders and take every piece of weaponry possible. Also the current government has to be supported. Even though the current government is far from perfect they are legally in charge. Due to that, any foreign troops that do enter Syria must acknowledge and support the laws and current structure of Syria. What is so frustrating is that we all know this is the way to go but it will never happen. There are too many gutless leaders calling the shots. The current set of leaders are hell bent on power grabs, cold war ideology, one up-manship and childish warmongering to make the deweaponisation plan work. Why must we always kill each other to obtain peace? That is such an oxymoron and yet it is the primary method of bring peace. Put in the extreme trade barriers of not one more weapon and lock down the borders so tight that even a mouse gets questioned. Oh wait, that solution is too expensive. We would rather spend a trillion dollars on weapons and kill people. We have wasted two years for no reason at all. With each passing day the situation grows worse and more difficult to solve. Already hundreds of thousands of children have spent the majority of their lives in refugee camps. Cultures are dying, communities are destroyed, families torn apart, history is lost and what little connection to a peaceful Syria these children had is now replaced with hate, misinformation and a destabilized understanding of the world. Why, because the leaders of the world have acted childish and irresponsible.As bad as it is these leaders still will not do what is necessary. Lock down the country and take every weapon out, only then can discussions/elections and rule of law be established. Of course it will take an enormous amount of courage and effort but no more than what it took to bring peace to Iraq or Afghanistan. Oh wait both of those were failures.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Egypt is in peril - so is the world

The situation in Egypt is one that needs to be solved quickly. The problem with that is there is very few that will do what is needed to bring an end to the chaos. From the outset the Muslim Brotherhood had built a vast amount of distrust with the public. The hope of inclusion preached prior to this round of chaos hade not materialized. Now we have the exact situation that was to be avoided. The situation is exacerbated by The Muslim Brotherhood urging supporters to go into the streets, which only fuels violence. Of course the military had made an illegal move in overthrowing an elected government. In all of this is the reality that democracy favours those with majority of population. In Egypt the majority had been the Muslim Brotherhood. The world was told one thing and then slowly a different governance model was being pushed through. This happens in every democracy that has a majority party in power of government. It is very much mob rule in basic form. This imbalance of power is the basic issue in which democratic governance models must deal. If the world is to have better systems of governance, the balance of power has to be dealt with and Egypt is a classic example of why that is. We also see the imbalance of power within the United Nations, which is to be a pillar of the world. As Egypt falls into total chaos the world can only watch due to sovereignty issues. But there is the issue of the Responsibility to Protect. As a global society we must care enough to make the tough choices. We must stop the total sale of weapons to such areas and work with the sovereign structures to enforce the rule of law. This is the reason we have United Nations forces. Unfortunately we have governments that will sell weapons to both rebels, terrorists and government forces. Just look at what is going on within Syria and Israel. Egypt has started that slide to total state collapse. Sadly we have a chance to stop that slide now but I am not confident we will take the correct steps to end the slide to destruction.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Peace in Afghanistan

At the outset of International Security Alliance Force (ISAF) involvement in Afghanistan there were many people proclaiming the lack of determination needed to finish the job. Those people were right and unfortunately the Taliban and Al Qaeda are two such groups that planned on such a reality. As the conflict drags on, the violence has been increasing while media attention has dropped. There is very little reason for any opposition group to negotiate with the International Security Alliance Force. In absolute reality we must realize that the war in Afghanistan has been a failure for International Security Alliance Forces. Not only has the Afghanistan war been lost but there is a very strong link to the fall of Syria as well. What needs to change to ensure better results? The end of very well proven unsuccessful military strategies can not come soon enough. Bullets and bombs have rarely worked in modern day warfare yet that fact is lost on the hawks. The outcome of the Afghan war was not because the winners have more or better soldiers, equipment or money. The war was won because of determination, patience and total commitment. Sadly these were well known factors concerning the Taliban and Al Qaeda at the outset of the Afghanistan war. Another change we (the world) have to experience is the end of the cold war mentality. There were a few short years where that reality was a possibility. Slowly we are understanding that the cold war is still very much being fought. The years when the Responsibility to Protect had been developed offered a pedestal of hope. The last twelve years have dashed much hope. Finally a change within the United Nations Security Council needs to be made. Veto power and the Permanent Five members have made a complete fool of the entire United Nations Institution and continue to do so. As it stands now, the world is going to experience an increase in violence in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other areas. How far will this chaos spread is unknown. We must know now that we can not shoot our way through such chaos. The only question now is: Do we have the courage to seek a more peaceful manner of solving violence?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Community peace is International peace

Community peacebuilding has been a very important part of my understanding of peace for the past 15 years. This began with the understanding and importance for inner peace within the individual. Recently there has been a great deal of research and attention put upon the local capacity for peacebuilding.

Even though people have a desire to be on the cutting edge of information, community peacebuilding and using local capacity to sustain peace is as old as human life. One of the most quoted items of such understanding is the one that states “act locally, think globally”. Furthermore we can look into the philosophies of all religions which seek to enhance the inner persons ability to be peaceful.

As we look at situations around the world we must seek out local capacities for peace. All too often we look to outside influences for peace such as the United Nations and/or the supposed powerful nations for solutions.

The website has been focusing on local efforts for peacebuilding, youth programs and the complexity which exists in efforts to sustainable peace. The lessons being learned in such research and information sharing relate to communities in conflict all over the world. The conflict maybe a community experiencing economic challenges in Canada, natural disasters in South Asia, political transitions in South America and even the cultural/religious challenges in the Middle East.

We often forget that most conflict begin within communities and spread. Once they spread the issues become international and the larger, global community gets involved. This is the exact reason Russia works so diligently at keeping the Syrian war an internal matter. Even though Syria began as an internal matter it quickly gained negative international support resulting in the destruction we have now. What we are left with is a two/multiple front war instead of a single front.

The community focus of peace is often called as too simplistic a view to be effective. It has been my experience that simplicity is exactly what people need when chaos surrounds them. Also, there is an equal danger in over complexity as we have experienced with Palestine and Israel.

One of the benefits of local peace efforts is that the people who live in the communities have a greater need and responsibility to see peace return. International organizations have similar goals but when it is all comes down to what matters, international actors can leave and do leave. The people who live in the communities do not always have such a luxury.

Just imagine if all the money spent on high level talks dealing with Israel and Palestine had been spent on local community efforts? The same can be said of the money spent to arm rebels and government in Syria.

We can make conflict as complex as possible or we can take it one step at a time. For a community peace approach, the individual is the first step for peace to be sustainable. Then the ripple effect or butterfly effect takes over.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gangs for War and Gangs for Peace

Having the knowledge that there is a downward trend in the numbers of wars/violent conflicts gives a small amount of hope for peace. However, with each step towards the lowering the frequency of war I find my vigilance grows to have less violence. With that sentiment, I was greatly interested in to research the experiences of those in Latin America.

A few years ago the Mexican government took a very strong stand against gang violence. Well the expected gang response came to life. Once peaceful, tourist cities such as Monterrey began a very quick slide into chaos. The gang violence spread into Central American countries such as Honduras, El Salvador and continued on into South America.

There are a number of contributing factors for such a widespread connectivity. The factors of commonality are the drug trade and political/governmental distrust.  In short, corruption was/is a large problem for Latin America. In order to get past the distrust there had to be discussions which included everyone. This inclusion is a very difficult matter.

Often governments are unwilling or unable to meet with known criminals yet, that is exactly what needs to take place. In the case of El Salvador the religious avenue was a very attractive method to negotiate through. As these discussions were being put together, the government realized that years of war had built the distrust in politicians. The gang leaders realized that they were a large contributor to the continued decay of peace. Both the politicians and the gang leaders realized that the target audience for their messages had to be the youth.

Those revelations are ones that need to be emphasized in peace efforts. Such a mindset is one that will enable community programs to thrive and peace will be realized quicker and last longer. In another manner the blame for current chaos is shared not heaped upon others. In the case of El Salvador all sides understood their responsibility in allowing peace to be destroyed.

As the talks played out there were many issues that caused major problems. For some in the general public they thought that certain gang leaders were using violence to gain political power/favour. Others felt that gang members were being treated with greater respect than law abiding citizens. Now it just so happens that these are very common concerns in all peace efforts.

We can look what has taken place in Syria. The use of violence is a method to gain political power. We often hear the phrase that certain leaders do not negotiate with terrorists. How often has the president of Syria or the former president of Iran talked directly with any western leader? Such efforts for dialogue are circumvented through a maze of offices. On a similar level we have Egypt where a legitimate government is overthrown buy the military. Now we have another religious war breaking out even though peace was being asked for by the people.

The root cause for most of these wars rests in the hunger for power, control and inflexibility of mind. We see in the example of El Salvador how all sides kept blaming each other for the reality of violence. The violence could not stop until all sides understood their role and responsibility for continuation of violence. The same goes for what is taking place in Syria, Egypt, Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq, Columbia, Pakistan, and the list goes on.

As we learn of such efforts to peace, the methods and strategies are so easily understood. The difficulty is to act as perfectly peaceful as possible, this is our largest hurdle and that war begins in each of our minds, no matter where you live or religion you label yourself as. We (you the reader included) have made great strides in peace efforts and we must acknowledge that success. However the work is still in need as peace is still not a reality for many.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Was it the right thing to do in Egypt?

Was the coup in Egypt the right thing to do?

In a legal setting a coup is an illegal act so it has the impression of being a wrong act. The RUSA invasion of Iraq in 2003 is a perfect example of an illegal military overthrow and is equitable to what is taking place in Egypt.

Now for the other part of Egyptian situation (which the RUSA also leaned so heavily on in 2003) asks this question: When you see a disaster about to take place and you feel it is one that must be stopped before it becomes reality, at what point do you step in to stop that?

Such a question is the very essence of politics and one that will forever remain in the balance of peace, order and good governance. The argument will be framed by the direction, actions, decisions and the projected outcomes if the deposed government had remained in power balanced by the comfort level of the people to agree to such directions. In the case of Egypt the people were very uncomfortable with the direction of the legal government.

The people of Egypt wanted an open society and that reality (as the people of Egypt felt) was eroding very quickly. The direction of the government was seen as more controlling, be more strict in religious doctrine and ultimately less open than what was hoped for. The final act was the redrafting of the Egyptian constitution which reflected a more Islamist society. The people of Egypt were against any overt symbols of constraint.

As the government sought to implement a single religion unto all the people, the people peacefully fought back. Attempts were made to ease the people into an Islamist state yet the government did not understand the gravity of the peoples’ desire for a non-secular state.

The world has seen too many wars caused by religious domination ideology. We have come to a point where spirituality is a personal choice. At this stage we have universal rights which transcend borders and can form the foundations of all societies. Societies rooted in religious settings are slowly becoming extinct. The need for universal equality, law and treatment of individuals is now the reality for our future. We have progressed to the point where the strict adherence to any one religion at the destruction of another is understood as hypocrisy.

Furthermore the context of the region must be understood. The war in Syria can not be discounted, nor the politics of Tunisia, Libya and the lesser knowns such as Baharain, Yemen, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The people of Egypt have seen their future in these countries and that was not very well liked.

The irony here is that mob rule is not wanted yet democracy is mob rule and the mobs have spoken in Egypt three times. Once to kick out Mubarak, Once more to elect Mursi and another to kick Mursi out. Who is next in line for the boot?

Was it the right thing to do in kicking out the government? The people of Egypt thought so. For the rest of us we will debate that for the rest of time. The question that was in the minds of the Egyptian people was, we can avert a disaster if we act now or pay a very heavy toll later? They felt it was best to act now rather than face the possibility of paying later.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Spies and violence

The past few months have been a wild ride for those interested in world events. The continued shame of the RUSA spy saga reveals the reality of distrust among all countries. Add to the mix the continuation of the Egyptian unrest within the middle east unrest and the world has another moment to question current leadership.

The level of peaceful trust in the world has taken a very large hit. Overall trust is there, we trust that we will be spied upon, we trust violent opposition if authority is questioned and lastly there are a great many of us trust that nothing will change.

The spy saga and the violence are a reality for all of us. As we look to the future we must exercise the option to be peaceful. A peaceful society has no need for a spy agency and that is a reality we must all work to realize. To continue to practice and live with spy agencies is a reality of the most hypocritical elements.  With the spy ordeal, the only reason it exists is because everyone does it. This is a philosophy rooted within cultural relativism – everyone else is doing it? We are not children playing in the school yard.

The people are demanding more from our leaders of the world and they should be. As we continue on with the distrust we can understand why people are so easily brought to protests around the world. The people are asking for honesty and getting more deceit. The people are asking for more open politics and are getting closed doors.

These are the days where what was only a dream a few years ago can be realized. These are the days where there is enough disorder for youthful thought to take hold of power. These are the days where we make the friendships with each other that work to change the future. We must seek those connections and build trust. We have witnessed how the current functions under the old system of distrust, violence, threats and spies. We are living in a world that is falling apart.

We live in a world that glorifies war and violence while laughing at those who offer a world of peace. Yes there are a few that are held up as peaceful but just look at how everyone has dealt with the issues in Syria? The threat of violence in Egypt is now slowly emerging as people grab power and rule with iron fists. Such methods are the ways of the past. Changing these methods will take a great amount of mental effort and long term commitment. The best part is that we can make that change it we want to. At this point in time there is enough will to make a significant step towards that peaceful reality we all dream of.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Youth in Peacbuilding

Most of my peacebuilding work deals with the youth who live within conflict zones. Even when I work with government officials I have the youth at the forefront of my mind. Each question or issue is put through the filter of how the youth will comprehend and deal with decisions being made.
Due to this filtering process I have been avidly reading the stories compiled by an organization on this website,
The reality of all conflicts is that the impact will always be generational. The longer the conflict the deeper the roots of violence will go as children are taught to hate. For a peacebuilder, this cycle has to be stopped and it must start with the youth.

We all know that history has a way of distorting reality. Part of the cause for that is the biased information children receive which turns into false truths. By working to alter the false truths through projects that focus on community building, the larger context or causes of conflict can be brought down to the reality of a single persons existence. The stories which are featured provide great insight on how important the small projects are to the larger peace efforts.

As we can all see, the larger international macro level of politics can drag a conflict on for decades. The most efficient and effective method is the smaller peace efforts. Just look at how the politicians have resolved the Palestine/Israel conflict, Cyprus, Kashmir region, Korea and the list goes on.

At some point the people have to take full responsibility for the resolution of a conflict. This is why youth lead projects have a great impact on the long term sustainability of peace. The youth see the unending violence and they also can see the reason why peace starts with them. Within this reality is the hard fact of how difficult peace can be to some who have built up a great deal of anger against others and the system they live within.

Allowing the youth to feel apart of the future is very important to the overall success of any society. Providing youth with the support to feel they can have a peaceful society and allow them to build communities brings their energy and minds into a realm of positive influence. As youth become involved in peacebuilding, they begin to realize the need for programs that can properly channel hatred, violence and other destructive forces.

Working with youth in peacebuilding projects, we often see more adults being pressured to act in similar ways. Just as an example, look at those that are currently looked to for leadership in all the conflict areas around the world. Often you will see adults who have rigid thoughts about how peace is to be obtained. All the while the average person faces increasing violence, destruction and more reasons to hate.

What this all comes down to is that the instruction for a peaceful society are easily stated and understood but have proven to be difficult to implement. With youth programming the difficulty is to get the adults to listen.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Politics and Peace in Turkey

From the Occupy Movement to the Arab Spring, we are always searching on a grand scale for peace, equality and/or a just society that supports the growth of society. On a small scale we, as individuals seek out the connection to belong, to contribute, be a valuable and trusted member of the larger society. As these dichotomies intertwine chaos can thrive, which is how we end up with situations taking place in the Middle East.

At present we have the people of Turkey now going through the very same steps as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain have/are going through. These steps put a great deal of stress upon the region. What makes the entire situation more problematic is the lack of peaceful leadership.

Weapons are pouring into the region with little knowledge of what organizations will have access to these weapons. The irony within such a scenario is that the weapons are being supplied by the members of the United Nations Security Council.

Where will the people of Turkey be in three years? Looking upon past events as an indicator, the people of Turkey are looking at the same future that exists in Syria today. The political turmoil, the social collapse and the decay of economics are very evident within Turkey that was present in other countries.

Here we are again on the precipice of chaos within Turkey. Political freedoms are being asked for in Turkey as they were sought for in Syria. As the government in Turkey has taken steps to control and guide the people of Turkey, the opposition to the direction the government is going has been growing.  

This protest in Turkey may be a short upheaval yet there is an element of regional unrest that has to be considered. Will the violence in Syria spread into Turkey? That may not happen due to the support Turkey provides the rebels operating in Syria. What we do not know is the capacity of the protesters in Turkey. Rebels within Turkey may arm themselves as fast as they did in Syria. However I am not so sure rebels in Turkey have plotted such an attack as they did in Syria.

What is positive about the situation in Turkey is the condemnation heaped upon government and by government officials in Turkey. At the moment all we can do is allow events unfold.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Use of power

A number of years ago the term Smart Power, Middle Power or Soft Power were used to describe the use of diplomacy to stave off violent conflict. This term has been seldom used in the past ten years as well as the practice. The countries that used this method are the most peaceful, least corrupt, best governed, have stable economies and most content population  as listed by numerous reports (Human Development Report, Corruption Index, Failed States Index, Happiness Index, etc…).
More often these countries ranked in the middle of military power, not one was ever a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council nor are they the biggest economic countries. As we study this reality it appears that the best countries are those that are not military or economic powerhouses. In short, money and might is not what makes a society peaceful or great.
Taking that reality, why then do we often fall back upon those that do carry the military and economic top placements? Looking at Syria, the main obstacle for peace talks is the support the UN Security Council permanent five (France, UK, Russia, China and RUSA) have divided upon. The recent announcement that European countries are allowing more weapons into the hands of the rebels as is the RUSA will only improve the death toll. Russia and China are standing firm that no preconditions be set upon peace talks.
Now I can understand the idea of no preconditions for peace talks but the supplying of weapons?  I can not see that as being a move to improve peace.  At this point the Middle East region is sitting on a volcano ready to explode. The Syrian war has already spread into Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and Iraq. There needs to be no more talk of an internal/civil war.  This is now an international war and has been for many months.
The leaders need to step back and support the old method of Smart Power. Revive that network and allow those countries to work on mitigating the use of violence, weapons, peace talks, and the political transitional methods of elections.
 We must look at what has taken place in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya as to what can happen to governments that are transitional. There will be flare ups of protests, possible violence and of course the chance of falling back into massive chaos. There is enough evidence to prove that the Permanent Five Members of the United Nations Security Council are failing at bringing peace to Syria.
The five members must endorse another group to carry the responsibility of peace negotiations.  This new group needs to be comprised of those that are well noted as the most peaceful, best governed, least corrupt and have strong economic foundations. Why not give that a shot, nothing else is working. Perhaps the fear is that such a plan will work and cast even more question on why the permanent five are not all booted out.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Building our future

To achieve the goal of peace each of us has to take a leap of faith. First that leap is made on a personal level and then expanded. Taking the issue of Syria to heart the first leap of faith is to stop killing each other. To do this we must recall that each act of violence is the catalyst for others to act violently and the spiral of violence begins. Syria is just one more example of this reality. The entire situation we have today was sparked by a single shot and no one knows for sure who fired that first shot.
We must now understand that Syria has been an international breakdown of peace for a long time. Foreign countries have been supplying weapons. Iraq, Turkey and Israel have allowed troops to move across borders. There has been ample evidence that Israel and Turkey have crossed borders to engage Syria in combat. At some point there has to be an iron fist of international control put upon this entire region. Enough blood has been spilled with little success of peace being achieved. Lost in all of the excuses given as to why such escalation is necessary is that each excuse only provides more fuel of hatred against those that make excuses.
The world leaders are doing more damage as they allow the violence in Syria to continue and escalate. We (and I share the blame as well) have failed the people of Syria. Now the task of rebuilding is growing ever more difficult as we must reverse the damage being done to the minds and spirits of the children. Children are being taught to hate, to fear, to be violent and to be negative in mind. Some of these children may never be able to live peaceful lives. Due to that we are looking at another Palestine/Israel situation.
We already have Iraq ripped apart, Afghanistan is also heading back to chaos and now we have the chaos building in Syria. Why has this reality come to us in the past fifteen years? The truth is that we have we have put more efforts into killing each other than being peaceful.
I know that many will condemn the words I write saying that I live in a world of dreams. Well I do not, I live in a world of violence and death created by those that use my dreams as a foundation for acting violently. To end the chaos we must work to rebuild peace by recalling how people in Syria lived just four years ago, how they are living today and then project how they want to be living five years from now.
Taking the understanding of how life will be in a peaceful world, we can only achieve that if we start acting in that manner today. However, there is very little courage or desire to live in that manner by leaders in the Middle East.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Iran to chair UN Disarmament conference

Selection of Iran as the Chair of the United Nations Disarmament conference has been met with some strong opposition. What is laughable is the opposition voiced by the Republic of the United States. Here is a country that has illegally invaded countries, illegally transported, detained and prosecuted untold numbers of people, is currently supplying terrorist organization in Syria and has turned Iraq into a complete mess. With all of that I have to wonder, how in all that is sane do they feel justified in condemning anyone?
This is the type of hypocrisy that must end if we are to live in a peaceful world. The amount of frustration that is felt across the world in the face of such ignorance is understandable. Let us not forget the acts of George W. Bush as he tore up the Non-proliferation contract. How can anyone believe a vision of a just world when this is the type of leadership being provided?
We must also take note that the Republic of the United States is one of the strongest oppositions to the control of small arms and light weapons. The reason for such opposition is due the understanding that they are not subject to international law. Although they fully believe every other country should be.
Going another step further, there is little belief that the constitution for the Republic of the United States is a solid framework for international peace. If that belief were there then the right to defend would allow Iran to have nuclear weapons. After all Iran has been given notice that they will be attacked on many occasions.
As far as I can understand Iran is not a model country however, the Republic of the United States is no model for disarmament either. Even children in a school yard show more peaceful intelligence than what we receive from the leaders of the world.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Complexity should not halt peace

Syria is a complex situation that has thousands of years of hostility woven into it. Ultimately the complexity comes down to simple human inflexibility. The inflexibility of our minds to see other options is worsened by seeking revenge.  This inflexibility provides that we kill others rather than work with others to stop the spread of violence within our society.
Building a peaceful world has very simple ideology to follow. Each of us wants to live in a world that is secure from the pain of violence, hatred and suffering. This ideology is the foundation of every society, religion, country and friendship that we all strive to obtain.  
As each of us moves through life we understand that at some point we are going to get hurt. Broken promises, failed relationships and selfish acts all take part in day to day life. Most of us have gone through these events which feel as though your heart has been torn apart. To live in a peaceful world we work as hard as we can to limit such events.
Here we are, with all the ability to be peaceful, yet we allow situations such as Syria to take place, why? First we get caught up in the complexity of the solution and that halts most efforts for peace. Complexity is only word that describes how tangled life is, which will never end. Complexity describes how a group of people can rationalize killing people in order to achieve a peaceful world. Complexity rationalizes human trafficking, child soldiers, suicide bombers, slave labour, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. Where the major problem rests is when we use complexity as an excuse to engage further in such acts.  
As the violence in conflict expands, the need for an end becomes so great that there is nothing more we can do but stop it. Obviously we have not met that point in Syria. There is a great deal more violence the world can tolerate. What is lost in that understanding is that the solution will be no easier implemented today or tomorrow than it would have been two years ago. Two years ago we were given all the reasons why we could not stop the violence in Syria and those realities still exist. Of course some of those reasons, such as sovereignty have been broken.
The entire situation is one major frustration because the solution will remain the same today as it was two years ago and will be so ten years from now.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

No trust in any side of Syrian war.

The recent reports of the Syrian war reaching into Turkey, the use of chemical weapons and Israel ignoring international law are examples of the garbage leadership we have in the world today. Also, not one bit of the intelligence reports can be trusted because those that are providing the reports have supported the rebels.
The average person is who I feel for. Those in the government of the surrounding countries I have difficulty to feel sympathetic because they are the ones that allowed weapons, equipment and people to pour into Syria. How these governments can ask the world to step up and end this idiocy is one giant hypocritical moment. The reality of this situation is that Syria was a great deal more peacefully three years ago than it is today.
With that honest reality it is difficult to believe the reports submitted by the opposition and the rebels. Their entire purpose is to take down the current government any way it can. Lies are just one more weapon. Planting bombs, using chemical weapons and blaming Assad is another tactic. As such information comes to the world, we must understand the source and the purpose of such reports.
Here we are, watching Syria slowly being destroyed. There are a few ways this war end and one of them is for the international community to stop supporting the rebels. Another is one that I would rather see, which is a total ban on all weapons going into Syria. Moreover, I would love to see a regional ban on all weapons enforced by the largest United Nations Peace force ever assembled.
Of course none of those are likely to happen. What will happen though is the violence in Syria will rage on for another five years at least. More condemnation will be heaped upon the Syrian government. The rebels will be sprinkled with a few warnings but largely given a free hand to act with impunity. Basically we are going to get more of the same as we have gotten in the past year or so.
This reality is the most frustrating part of a peace workers reality. The solutions to end this garbage in Syria are there, the knowledge and expertise are there, the only thing missing is the political will to act. This is why we get the calls for the Republic of the United States because we all know that nothing will be done. Just look at the situation between Israel and Palestine, nothing but further violence has been accomplished since 1945.
The solution is easy, implementing the solution is difficult and unending. The irony is that part of the solution was put to the people on 26 Feb 2012. That referendum was not able to be implemented because the rebels quickly increased violence (killing people). Assad is known to be a violent person as are those around him and the governments of the countries surrounding Syria. In such a situation a total weapons ban needs to be implemented for the safety of all people.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Syrian war escalated

The recent bombings by Israel on targets inside Syria are a clear violation of international law. Syria is within its right to fight back but there is very little that can be done. In fact, fighting back would only worsen the situation for Syria.
Israel may have acted so because it would not face any reprisals. Further to that I wonder why everyone thinks that the Republic of the United States of America (RUSA)can solve the Syrian war?  There has been little evidence of success for peace talks in any region of the world lead by RUSA. RUSA has been leading the talks between Israel and Palestine for how long and it has only worsened. With that reality, why does anyone think Syria will be any different?
There is also the issue of the chemical weapons. Who used these is a guess at best. The rebels can not be trusted, the current government can not be trusted, the neighbouring countries can not be trusted. The media is too easily manipulated other than to understand that such weapons have been used. Supporting the rebels has been a total waste of life, time, money and has only increased the violence.
The support Russia has given Syria is exactly what RUSA is doing in Bahrain so why is there such hostility in this situation? This is the hypocrisy that needs to end.
 The best solution is to uphold a complete ban on all weapons in the region. That should be carried out and enforced by the United Nations. Of course that is too much sense and it would work. It is better to slowly kill everyone as we are doing now.
What we are witnessing here is the need for each of us to demand better leaders. Our leaders are a reflection of us. This is why the Occupy movement took place. We are on the cusp of bringing a peaceful future to the world. Do we have the courage to do so?
Syria is an example of how easily we turn to violence to solve problems. Even in the face of unending violence we carry on using and escalating violence. The irony here is that we turn to violence to achieve peace. When peaceful options are presented such avenues are pushed aside as weak and unrealistic. Further irony is shown when religion is part of the violent struggle.
The world is clearly insane yet each of us are caring, rational, peaceful people. It seems as though the sane majority is being lead by the irrational minority. This balance is our struggle. How do we tip the scales so that another Syria does not happen?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Has the world changed?

Ever notice how many times the phrase “the world was changed for ever” is used? We tend to forget that war, violence and devastating events have taken place since life was created. For many the First World War is something that we read about not feel or understand in its totality. Whether or not such events can be or should be felt in its totality hundreds of years later is worth debating.
World War One was to be the war that ended all wars. Well that was quickly proven false a few decades later with the second round of the first war. Then of course we have been enduring the fallout of the second war ever since. So goes the cycle as we deal with the continuation of religious wars that have been ongoing for thousands of years.
In every case we have sought to end the use of war. The greatest achievement in that effort has been the United Nations. This idea was born out of the First World War and the League of Nations and has the foundational goal to “Save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” spelled out in the opening lines of the Charter.
So here we are today. With all the above reality being mentioned, we have made great strides in the area of peace. It is very evident that we read and see a great deal of violence which gives the impression of a more violent world than ever before. However, the world is a far more peaceful place than ever before, we just know more about global events.
Furthermore, talking about the amount of violence is only useful if you are going to do something about it. The best way to deal with violence is to be aware and act with a peaceful mind at the earliest point. Now the next issue of peace comes into play which is the many differing methods to reach the goal of peace. You see, most conflicts are rooted in that very discussion.
The cold war was rooted in the battle between communism and capitalism. As stupid as that seems it was front and centre in every conversation. Now we have the ideology of freedom being the catalyst for many of the wars today. Think of the reality with both sides saying, “Either achieve freedom this way or we will kill you”, now that makes a great deal of sense.
Moving back to the use of the United Nations, we have to understand the thought for determining action or no action to intervene. Syria is a great case study for such an experiment. On the surface the entire situation is completely insane. The entire reason for the violence was to achieve more freedom for the people. Say what you want about the current government of Syria but the reality is that four years ago life was much better for the average person that it is today. The fight for freedom as the initial cause has already been killed and replaced by sectarian battles on the opposition side.
When I started out in this business I was told that the issues of politics remain the same as they were thousands of years ago. In short the world of politics never changes. The pursuit of peace has been the same before Moses crossed the Red Sea and will be the same until such a time each person reaches a point of enlightenment –whatever that is.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

War starts in the mind

Each day we have the choice to make of whether or not we are going to act peacefully. This is the personal struggle every single person has to indulge in. Furthermore it is the single most important struggle in the global pursuit for peace.
Usually Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is put into the conversation at this stage, which I rarely discuss. The reason is that I understand the hierarchy is more of a point of focus than a progression or level of being. For example, if a person was truly committed to the spirituality there is no need for all the others. If a person is completely focused on security, all the others are there to serve that need. In that method of thought there is no hierarchy only a point of focus. For me the main focus is the personal mindset or spirituality.
Throughout my career I have rarely met anyone that does not believe they are working to improve life for those they care about. That reality alone has always perplexed my mind when you see people use violence. Often I am left with the single question of “How do you think acts of violence will change anything?”
It is an easy argument to say that violent acts push a person to change the mind. World War Two is often made example of. However, the reality is that Nazism still exists as does the many ideologies which fuelled that war. Furthermore there is a strong argument which states that World War Two is still taking place in Palestine, Israel, India, Pakistan and other areas. In addition we have to ask, Have nuclear weapons stopped wars – No. Has the millions of guns stopped war – No. Has the threat of bombing stopped war – No. Has the death of millions stopped war – No. The only thing that has stopped war is the change in people’s minds that violence is no longer a useful option.
The reality of war is always present in the minds of each individual. The acts of the individual are what give thought life. In that light we act globally as individuals through legislation such as the recent agreement to control conventional and light weaponry. This is a major piece of legislation which is an example of changing mindsets. Such agreements to ban child soldiers, cluster bombs, and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons focus on the physical elements of war. The only way we can change the mental elements of war is through education. Expanding our mindset of peace into the quagmire of security, health, politics and economics is the task of the day. How do we transition from the violent chaos of war to peaceful chaos of civility?
Education, discussion and having an open mind are the foundations for peace. In every conflict there is a need to seek out those that are newly introduced to the conflict. These people are often the ones with the ability to see a different future. Those that have been embroiled in the conflict are usually blinded by biased thought. For example, democracy has been held up as the saviour of society. However many of the governments that practice democracy have been involved in violent conflicts. Also there have been many a crisis develop in democratic countries that shook the world, the recent economic recession is one such example. We can also point to the recent Iraq war as an example of democratic failure. As we look for a method to have discussions, I am thinking we need to invent a different method because democracy has run its course.
What we are left with is a group of tired people using an untrusted method of conflict resolution. The result is Syria, Bahrain, Mexico, non-functioning United Nations Security Council and legislation with very little impact. The pursuit for global peace is quickly loosing grip because individuals are lazy in thought, quick to act violently and see no other options. To curtail the fall of peace we must seek out those that are new to the discussion, seek out those that are open to new methods, seek out those that understand violence is an act of frustration used by those who have little hope and finally we must seek to be at peace within ourselves.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Global peace or war

For many centuries we have lived with the reality that what takes place on one side of the globe impacts us on the other. Sadly there are many of us who have no clear understanding of this historical reality. In no small part has that lack of awareness produced more wars, terrorist acts and violence to the millions of innocent people throughout the world. In the same manner of thought there are still many battles being fought which started thousands of years ago.
We must ask ourselves if we are really trying hard enough to solve these conflicts that have been going on for thousands of years? The war in Syria is quickly losing its initial reason of ignition. Syrians were supposed to be seeking better government, equal rights, political openness and hope for the future. Now we endure the religious turmoil of those seeking power in Syria. The average person in Syria has been played as pawns and sacrificial lambs in a war that dates back thousands of years. We have lost  why the fighting began to the point where solutions being offered are now generalized ideologies of ending the violence. Why it started is of no concern to anyone anymore. Due to that loss the only reason it has continued is because we have no bearing on what the end goal was or is.
We have no clear path for peace but we have a clear connection of violence and chaos.  Every car bomb, suicide bomber, missile and or bullet fired is an attack on everyone else in the world. Every word that is spoken which has been fuelled by revenge, hate and or narrow minded ideology is an attack on everyone else in the world. Each and every act such as those are catalyst for the continuation and the beginning of all wars.
Those that carry their revenge to neighbouring countries or across oceans are taking the very war they are escaping with them. Those that pass down this revenge to their children continue the war into succeeding generations.
Here we are in a world that has more avenues to connect, to learn, to understand and to build than any other time yet we are still using violence as a method of communicating our frustrations. This will not change until each one of us changes. For that simple reason, ever single act of peace or war is a global act as well.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Breaking peace

Living in a peaceful world is possible but we must work very hard at obtaining peace and then retaining peace. For example, yesterday a major breakdown in peace had taken place very close to where I live. This breakdown is similar to the rape events which have recently engulfed India.

17 year old Rehtaeh Parsons was assaulted in many ways by a group of boys. Pictures of this assault were then circulated and further assaults were committed against Rehteah in the following 17 months. Finally she had reached no other option but to end her life. She was found by her mother hanging in her bedroom at the brink of death. Rehteah was taken to hospital where she was put on life support. The final atrocity being that her mother had to make the desicion to take her daughter off life support as there was no more that could be done. The following link is the newspaper article.

As a society we have built all the needed elements to deal with such events. The single issue that is present to us is - will we do what we have to in order to repair the peace that was broken?  In the case of Rehteah, we decided that nothing should be done and she died a horrible death because of our inaction.

Our systems of governance are a reflection of who we are. We in fact are the government, the system, we are the they and that reality has been lost. Our lack of awareness is clearly evidenced by the recent treaty for small arms and light weapons, which in comparison to the rules and regulations for the trade of bananas is minimal. As we look to our own cirlces of community similar inequalties take place, Rehteah Parsons shows us how life in Canada is similar to life in every other part of the world when it comes to justice. If the people who are responsible do not care the entire society is damaged.

What can we do for those that have suffered as has Rehteah.   For one we must ensure our children are raised with compassion, awareness and peacefully. In order to do that we must strive to be that way ourselves, in our own minds and hearts. At the same time we must understand that all of this is one giant experiment for each one of us. Very few of us are perfect (apparently there are some prophets and such who are held up as examples). How many people have killed in the name of God?

What is taking place in Syria right now is an equal atrocity to a woman being raped and again we did nothing to stop it when we had the chance to stop it. Some day we will be better at breaking violence to the point where we no longer suffer the breaking of peace.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Multicultural Future

For those that have the luxury to travel around the world, they will experience the many different styles in which people interact. However, if a person is capable of great awareness they will see the many cultural differences that exist in their own community. Culture takes shape amongst people that identify with certain groups in the local school or work place.
One person may have many groups they belong to such as religion, political, educational, career, sport, family, art, sex, food, language, etc… The combination of all the groups compose the individuals singular culture/identity. The vastness of the combination makes culture a very complex topic. As I write this piece I am listening to a program that is discussing car culture. These complexities are what make political discussions difficult and peace an elusive dream.
We get lost in the complexity of life to easily as we have a deep honour for being complex. In reality, culture is a luxury and the basics of life are often left to the way side. For example we can look at the base of most religions which is peace. The conversation of being peaceful quickly gets lost in the conflict of how to achieve peace, thus we lose peace.
There exists a great hypocrisy around the world which culture and peace intertwine. This hypocrisy is the reality that every group has rules, methods, understandings and guidelines. These parameters provide identity and security for the group. For terrorist organizations, gangs, and every other group there is a desire to seek out those that are lost in their own identity. In some circles this act of converting and or seeking out lost souls (as an example) is known as brainwashing.
With the recent terrorist acts in Algeria, Canada is asking some serious questions about this very topic. Canadians are asking how a youth could evolve into a person that travels across the world to engage in terrorist acts. As other nations go through similar processes, answers usually start with the same words – This is a very complex issue.
Well it can be complex if you choose to think that way. Now if you want to make it less complex move the conversation inward to the self. Even though the self can be a very complex issue if you choose it to be, taking a singular moment provides focus.
For me to understand the world I keep the following phrase fresh in the mind: Everyone acts in the best way they believe will improve the world. Another phrase that a friend of mine came up with is, For humanity sake always give options. With those two elements, understanding and openness provides an avenue to understand why and how terrorism seeks out lost souls.
The simple question to ask yourself is, what would it take for you to act in such a manner. Most likely a person would feel frustrated, with no clear understanding of who they are, feel alone or disconnected from both family, friends and or the larger community.
As each of us walk around the communities we live we should feel the vibrant cultures that exist. We must keep in mind that the world exists in that community as well. What happens in a community on the other side of the world does have an impact in every other community around the world. For this singular reality, having a culture of being peaceful to each other at all times is of great importance.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fifty years for peace to rebuild in Syria - at least

After two years of idiocy, the leaders of the world are just now formulating plans to deweaponize Syria. What is even more absurd is that the leaders of the world have put the enormous burden of cleaning up the Syrian mess upon the United Nations – again. Of course these very same leaders will bark at the ineptness of the United Nations not realizing that no other organization would be able to do any better. Here we are today, knowing what had to be done two years ago. The only difference is that thousands of people are dead, Syria is about 60% destroyed and the regional tension is at a breaking point.
For the next year we will have to watch the idiots that made this mess argue about who will pay to clean it up. While that insane conversation takes place more people will be lost to the violence of the power vacuum within Syria. We already know that the opposition leadership is far from able to control itself now. As the legal government dwindles so will the ability to secure any form of government. Thus we will face the possibility of a total downward spiral into a broken state much like Somalia or Iraq and Afghanistan.
We know that the United Nations will be going in, under what guidelines are to be determined. Who will make up the rank and file of these peacekeepers? All neighbouring countries will no doubt be off the list of contributors. Going down the list of countries, I suspect that the contributing forces will be South American, Northern European with a sprinkle of South and Northern Asian. Perhaps Australia, Canada Germany, France and or Britain will provide logistical support.
How long will this mission take? With any luck the last peacekeeper will be off the line in fifty years. Aid organization will be there a little while longer if ever they leave. For those that are shocked at such a long time frame need to fully understand the complexity of societal peace. For example World War Two bases are still in operation in Germany. Canada had soldiers in Germany until the early 1990’s. With this reality a lengthy peace restoration mission is not uncommon.
Here we are looking at all the options to repair a broken country. We know that neither the current government nor the opposition leaders are worthy or able to lead Syria. This is the one transition that will take place. The collection of weapons, reintegration of soldiers, refugees returning and the rebuilding of infrastructure must begin as early as possible. As we move to the more complex issues of individual peace, there is a strong need for political/electoral transition programs.
To ensure a successful peace mission in Syria, there has to be the long term vision. There must also be a regional plans to demilitarize as well as how to engage in peaceful dialogue. These programs have to be focused upon the youth because the adults are far to cemented in their ideology. Not that adults cannot change their ideology, they are more likely not to change. Due to this we have to have the long term vision of peace so that the people in leadership roles now will be replaced with those that have a more flexible mind. That flexibility is understood to take a generation.