Thursday, February 14, 2013

Growth and Peace

“We are called to integrate the instinctual intelligence of the gut, the spacious inclusiveness of the heart, and the lucidity of the mind.” James O'Dea, Cultivating Peace

The confluence of two forces on this peripatetic mind, economic growth and peace, emerged this morning from two books retrieved from the shelves of 5 million yesterday.
Searching For Peace - Johan Galtung, Carl G. Jacobsen, and Kai-Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen Was a title referenced in Cultivating Peace that I finished yesterday. Johan Galtung one of the authors and arguably the foremost scholar of peace research joined with Carl and Kai Fritjof Brand Jacobsen to lay out 14 approaches to a peaceful world:

1.  Peace movement: extend this concept to include commitment to peace on the part of all states and corporations, accountable to peace programmes.
2.  Abolition of war: treating offensive arms like hard drugs, outlawing research, development, production, distribution, possession, use of them.
3.  Global governance: democratizing the United nations through direct elections to a People's Assembly, and abolition of the veto power.
4.  Peace education: to be introduced at all school levels like civics, hygiene, sex education,, knowledge of one's own culture.
5.  Peace journalism: that all decent media focus on ways out of conflicts, building a solution culture, not a violent culture.
6.  Non-violence: that non-violent ways of fighting for a cause and defending own integrity = basic needs become part of common skills.
7.  Peacemaking/conflict transformation: that conflict handling knowledge and skills become parts of civic education anywhere, like hygiene.
8.  Peace culture: that people start exploring their own culture, what can be done to make it more conducive to peace, and then do it.
9.  Basic needs: that respect for the basic needs of everybody, and especially the most needy, become a basic guideline of politics.
10.  Peace structure: from exploitative and repressive structures with nature, genders, races, classes, nations, states to equity, parity.
11.  Peace-building: develop good and bad rather than good or bad images of the world's actors, and positive links in all directions.
12.  Peacekeeping: with minimum violence becomes protection for the defenseless, and a protective barrier against the violent.
13.  Peace zones: starting with yourself as a peace zone of one person based upon ideas above, constructing archipelagos of peace.
14: Reconciliation: learning to apologize and to accept apologies, to ask for forgiveness and to forgive, to heal and to close conflicts.

The authors suggest four pillars of activity: action, education/training, dissemination and research with action "always the most important pillar." They offer some guidance to the conflict worker via a 'code of conduct' that focuses on :
  • Peace by peaceful means
  • Relation between the conflict worker and him/herself
  • Relation between the conflict worker and the parties
  • Relations between the conflict worker and society
I'll highlight the four points they make for the relation between the conflict worker and him/herself as they stimulated this blog and resonate with O'Dea's work that led me to their work.

1.  Your motivation should be to help the parties transform the conflict, not your own promotion, materially or non-materially.
2.  You should have the skills or knowledge for the task and use the conflict to develop them further, not acquire them.
3.  Do not have a hidden agenda beyond conflict transformation, for yourself or for others; have nothing to conceal.
4.  Your legitimacy is in your skills, knowledge, creativity, compassion, and perseverance and ability to stimulate the same in conflict parties; not in any mandate or in any organization.

This left me wondering how one might align these ideas when dealing with the 'violence' of the underlying economic system.Now the tie-in with the second book from this morning's reading .

Economist Peter Victor tackles the never questioned assumption that growth, especially in economic terms, is really in our best interests.
"The main value that I want to call into question is the primacy that we in rich countries (he's lives in Canada) give to economic growth as the over riding economic policy objective for government. Sometimes growth comes dressed in other clothes such as 'competitiveness' or 'free trade' or 'productivity', but underneath is a commitment to economic growth. It is the policy objective against which all other proposals must be judged. 

Environmental policy must not be allowed to impede growth, and where possible should be advocated because it will boost growth. Apparently a green economy will be even bigger than a brown one. Education policy must see that students are trained for work in the 'new economy'. Transportation policy should result in the more rapid movement of goods. Immigration policy should attract the most highly educated and wealthiest. Support for the arts is based on the economic contribution of the movies, theatre, television, and arts festivals. All are judged against their contribution to growth." (pp.1-2).

Victor goes on to state that "This is not to say that we should adopt zero growth as an alternative, over arching  objective. Rather that we should not bother with growth as a policy objective at all or only as a subsidiary to more specific objectives that have a clearer more substantiated relation to well being."

So with this confluence I now ponder how to move ahead simultaneously on both fronts. As Victor concludes he prologue he shines this self-reflecting light: "If like me you have been inculcated with the virtues of economic growth, you may have to suspend your belief in this fundamental value of contemporary society as you read on."