Humans spend a good deal of their lives laughing, enjoying each other's company, sharing stories, making love, and working in cooperation. This is at least as natural as fighting.
Like fighting, peaceful behavior does not extend naturally to large, dense populations. Given half a chance, peaceful people will go off in small groups and mind their own business. They may welcome the occasional stranger who wanders by, but they don't systematically go seeking them.
The difference is this: Massive, coordinated warfare is an emergent behavior in response to armed conflict. There is no similar emergent behavior driver urgently pushing us to evolve massive love-ins.
Rather it takes a purposeful act of will to build peaceful institutions comparable to warfare. Parliamentary bodies, congresses, United Nations, etc. Further, even those which might be the site of peaceful sharing turn into arenas for diplomatic maneuvering (where diplomacy is by definition non-peaceful).
So... What the heck can we do about this?
NOTE: It is discouraging to compare this essay with the one on War. It is easy to find literature on the history, culture, and mechanics of war. Peace is not so well documented. If anyone can point me to substantive literature on how to accomplish peace, please do so. So far I've had to rely on personal experiences and comments from peace activists.
I have a rule of thumb: When the pundits begin announcing that Lower Elbonians are evil and must be killed, I go find 6 films by and about Lower Elbonians. After watching the movies, I realize that a) they are human, and b) the guy in the street has no desire to bomb me. He might want to bomb my president or congress, he may want to kill CEOs of multinationals that control his country, or he may want to get CocaCola out of his kids' schools. More likely, he wants to get a good job, help his ailing parents, find a girlfriend, protect his children, or write the great Elbonian novel. But he doesn't want to bomb me.
After that, I research natural resources. What does Lower Elbonia have to offer that a multinational just might want to grab? Amazingly enough, oil shows up quite regularly. So do assorted ores.
Given time, I try to learn a bit about the language, the literature (in translation or original) and the cuisine. These days we are declaring war so frequently I can't keep up, so I have to stick to films and resources.
When the official media declares that Lower Elbonia is a world menace, it is hard to explain that they can be decent folk. Those who benefit from go-to-war are quick to stone anyone who dares to give another side to the story.
This came up a while ago. The Galatians despised the Samaritans. A traveling preacher personalized this by telling the Galatians of a Samaritan who had helped someone along the road. Perhaps this approach will help today.
At least once each fake war there is a march in the streets. I attend. It of course has no effect on the go-to-war elites -- they are certainly not going to stand down because a few million citizens worldwide spent a few hours in the streets.
However, it does demonstrate that we are not alone. The independent citizen-scholar who has reached a principled conclusion re the validity of the ruling-group's claims needs to see and be seen by others. A march does that. It is a time to exchange phone numbers and email addresses, and to invite newbies into the family of humanity.
It can also be useful to attend weekly vigils. But perhaps the time is better spent focusing on actually changing who is the ruling-group.
It is good that there are warriors on our team. They protect us from truly demented villains. To be effective they have to be fully committed to bushido. The problem is to talk with them in a language they understand. It isn't fair to demand that they shift gears to talk like a peacenik.
The solution is to speak with warriors (active and veterans) from a world of shared experiences. Understand and use weapons. Understand and practice the physical disciplines. Understand the role of planning, logistics, command-and-control, and battlefield intelligence. Recognize the impact of life-altering traumas. Given that, I ask only a few things of US warriors:
The recognition of the need for peace and cooperation cuts across national boundaries. It is important to be aware of these movements. Latin America, India, and Old Europe seem to "get it". International investigators, authors, and speakers can help us understand what is happening and what needs to happen.
The researchers agree: The problem is global, but the source of the problem is the USA. Only the USA has the power to force multinationals upon the world (and is doing so). Only the USA can stop these wars of empire, and steer the ship toward more peaceful waters. (See Alternative Media for the concept of "economic hitman" and the role of multinationals in WTO-based empire-building.)
Unfortunately, at the moment the USA is run of/for/by the multinationals. We have the barest shadow of an elected government. The old forms and rituals are still in place, but the substance has been lost to HAVA-mandated evote fraud and corporate-media-saturation campaigning.
We humans have to claw our way back out of this hole. Use the old forms and rituals, and give them new life. That is the process of local Politics.
The nation-states (including the USA) are under attack from multinationals (who have already won but don't dare admit it publically). As long as our official state myth is democracy, we have a chance to breath life back into the substance. Target Congressional and Senate races nationally. Do not concede any race. Not one inch.
As sanity and honesty are restored to US national politics, establish priorities which positively support peace. Support international treaties, honor the Geneva Convention, and curtail arms marketing. Some have proposed a Dept of Peace, funded at $10B/yr. Whatever the mechanism, we need well-funded investigations and implementations of peace.
Right now, I don't know what that means. I am sure that with billions of dollars in grants on the line, we would be hearing some good ideas pretty quick.
As noted above, people at peace don't join massive efforts. By consciously setting up webs-of-trust and regularly breaking bread together, we provide a peaceful and joyful mechanism for carrying out the mechanics of global politics.
This of course sounds like a grange, or church, or synagogue, or mosque, or civic club, or political party. Each is an institutionalized forum for social bonding. The problem is to remember the global issues while dealing with local implications. Few traditional institutions serve that purpose.
Personally, I find political parties the most appropriate forum for this task -- it is in their charter to understand and influence the war/peace equation while handling local issues. The trick is to make them a social bonding environment as well. Potluck dinners and personal friendships are needed, not just official meetings. We are doing that locally. I also invite non-political people to my home each week in the spirit of Ben Franklin's Leather Apron Club.
Creator: Harry George