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.

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