Sunday, December 20, 2015

Transitions to Peace: letting go of the past

Commonly we are met with the need to look at history to understand how we got to where we are. However, at certain times it is deeply urgent to let go of that knowledge. A singular situation when letting go of past events is needed rest with the collapse of a state. When a state experiences a collapse there is usually many groups that try to seek legitimacy to power. Such power grabs are often reasoned within history. This reasoning is rarely helpful to building peace. When a state collapses, the causes of that collapse often reset during negotiations of rebuilding. Thus, the entire process is sent in a spiral of never ending blame or victimization. We can see this taking place with the many agreements being worked on at this moment in both Libya and Syria. In both areas there is a strong attachment of past government leaders or strong military groups fighting to take power. In each case the need to work on delivering a process for government formation can be delayed. This delay costs lives as groups continue to fight which only prolongs the agony of the collapse state. We can look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine and others as to how the many groups seeking power do great damage by delaying peaceful progress. The reasons many groups slow the progress of peace is easily understood. The reasons deal with political representation and for people to get a system they feel is best for the country. As they arguments for the delays are made, the information is rooted in history. Groups often point to past wrongs to solidify arguments. Even though these concerns are easy to support in understanding, there is often a subtext of delaying peace on purpose for a certain group to gain support/power. Knowing these tactics are often employed points to the complexities of a peace process. At the root of every process is the desire and need to trust. However, trusting every group can lead to great damage and even further delayed peace process. To take control of such chaos we have the need to use deadlines for these peaceful transitions. Building a new set of governance guidelines requires forward thinking. At such a point the negotiations are not about righting past wrongs. The ultimate point is to set up a system the people can trust to deal with such issues within the new context. For example, during the negotiations concerning Syria we have seen the Assad question left out. The single purpose of that rest with the fact that the people of Syria are to handle that situation under the new system. All the rhetoric of ousting Assad or supporting Assad has been taken out of the process. The historical contexts of how the war started has been let go of. Similarly in Libya we are witnessing the same situation as new systems are being implemented. Progressing through such stages of peace takes great courage. One of the hardest steps to take is to let go of past events and move forward with building a new reality. Once that new system is in place the healing of society can take place. Again, these steps take a great deal of courage and work yet the need to be peaceful is always paramount. Otherwise we will be trapped in a spiral of chaos.

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