You might wonder what is meant by the expression, “creating a culture of peace.” Similarly, you may ask what you can do about it, especially if you’re not skilled in the areas of expertise which today are known as being a negotiator, mediator, arbitrator or ombudsperson. There are many titles given today to people who assist others in resolving conflicts. We don’t have to look too far to know why all of these changes are coming about.
Consider if you will, that in most states now, at least in Florida, before a couple can divorce, if they have children, they are required to attend a minimum of four parenting classes so that they do not end up using their children as psychological pawns in their divorce. In addition, except in cases involving domestic violence, all divorcing parties are mandated to meet with a court appointed or self selected mediator to try and resolve their differences without the use of litigation. Also, imagine that in some countries, divorce laws are so archaic that they have no clause for irreconcilable differences. Rather the pre-historic mindset of casting blame is used and hiring private detectives to prove when someone is being dishonest is still prevalent.
The United Nations theme for this current decade ending in 2010 is precisely Creating a Culture of Peace. I think the reasons are quite evident why this is a global mandate. The times we live in are transforming to say the least. Many systems that currently exist within the family, social and business settings need to relearn new behavior which will foster the ongoing work in creating this culture of peace. Together, we all must be willing to explore new ideologies that can help us further understand the impact of the psychological, educational and sociological needs in the practice of peacemaking. Our global society is also experiencing accelerated change for which we have been unprepared. I recall several books that were written over twenty years ago suggesting that we need to prepare ourselves for these changes. In hindsight however, it is difficult to imagine how one prepares for the unknown. One idea is certain, unless we all work to stem the tide of violence, all kinds of violence, verbal, physical, sexual, and psychological, including property damage, we won’t have a world to live in anymore, or if we do, we won’t want to live in it.
Learning all of the innovative strategies that employ the use of nonviolent problem-solving is necessary. Will you choose to participate? Your children are learning these techniques at school now through many programs that have come about to address the above mentioned issues. The Peer Mediation Program is quite successful in helping to stem the tide of school based violence. Also, the trainings and workshops offered by the Anti-Defamation League in A World of Difference and topics specifically geared towards anti-bullying are springing up all over. Similarly there are also many types of programs in place now that are engaging the FBI, the CIA, police, and corporate employees.
How do our current policies relating to political, economic, and educational institutions reflect this new way of thinking? We see on the news that there is much dialogue being created around these challenges. It is through dialogue and think tanks that new ideas emerge. I believe Einstein’s statement best reflects this new thinking when he said, “You cannot solve a problem at the same level you find it.” The practical application of these strategies are becoming more evident in functional families who learn that they don’t have to yell to get their needs met. Enter into this scenario as well, the wonderful progress that science is making in helping us to understand how our brains function and the terrible mental/emotional illnesses that people suffer through such as depression or bi-polar disorder. Imagine if you work with people who suffer these illnesses that go unchecked. The greatest gift we can give one another is the gift our own enlightenment and peace of mind. The more people who are aware of this will create the 100th monkey theory of behavior which is in the best interests of one another. It will get passed along, as if by osmosis. The more people who observe others having peaceful lives can choose to create that too, not out of jealousy or resentment, but out of preference.
Why would anyone want to live a life of quiet desperation? We may often say to ourselves that we can’t imagine living in certain countries, but imagine living not only in a local community that perpetuates injustice, but in a family that believes that violence is acceptable or a body that believes the same thing, and if he/she doesn’t hurt others, they hurt themselves in some way. These are very serious challenges and we do have the thinking in place today in more and more locations that is causing a quantum leap in our thinking.
As we continue to redefine what the values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors are that shape a peaceful culture, we will learn to actualize them on a daily basis. In working to minimize the extent of the violence we see and hear about in our world, we must change the culture which has tolerated violence as an acceptable way of living. This violence is synonymous with abuse, which we see evident in our language as well as in our television programming and our exploitation and oppression of those perceived as less powerful. Violence of this type also includes the physical and/or sexual devastation of war victims, as well as victims of domestic abuse. Ceasing these behaviors will continue to address the personal transformation we must each make if we are to live in a different world. It requires a change in consciousness.
Some people experience this change not only in what is known as an out of body experience, but more so, the relief that comes from learning to express needs without the fear of verbal violence. Having enough self esteem to not put up with abusive behavior is one tenet that will help us to change to a culture of peace. It also requires that we each address the moral and political demands of our time in light of age old principles such as the Sermon on the Mount, or the Ten Commandments recorded in Judeo-Christian history. Many religions are replete with similar ideas and ideals. It is up to humanity to practice them. I recall a saying in the Old Testament which implies that the “sins of the Fathers are visited upon the children.” In essence, this means that old behavior will pass on to other generations until it is stopped. Perhaps this is why we have created drug free zones in the United States. Now, we are creating violence free zones because it is illegal to use violence to solve a problem. The same challenge is posed for all people living everywhere, the global village.
In closing, I often think to myself that life is repeated daily in many countries and many languages. The topography may be different, the time of day too may be different, along with the houses and the cities they are in. However, the common denominator is that we are all human and beg to live a life free of oppression, both external and internal. All people are driven to fulfill themselves and I still agree with Dr. Maslow, that at the top of the pyramid is the desire for self realization, self-actualization, to know why we are here, what is our purpose and where we are headed.
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