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.