IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

A “preview”

I am writing a chapter for a textbook on peace studies.  Here is a draft of the first few paragraphs:

“The world continues to change at a bewildering pace. At the time of writing regimes in place for decades have been swept away or are forced to barricade themselves behind walls and arms, their legitimacy fading day by day.  Adding these events to the list of far-reaching, largely unanticipated developments of the past 50-60 years (from decolonization, through the end of the Cold War and emergence of terrorism, etc..) we find grounds for both optimism and pessimism.  New forces for change are being liberated, but often in the context of violent, not to say savage conflict.  Therefore—and somewhat paradoxically–in an era when the likelihood of inter-state war, while still present, is reduced to an unprecedented degree in modern history, the problem of peace, understood broadly, is very much still with us.

Thinking and writing about international relations has always evolved in reaction to such major changes in world events:  the Cold War pushed forward thinking about strategic studies, the founding and evolution of the United Nations had a major impact on scholarship about international law and organization, etc… Concomitantly, the current wave (after wave) of intra-national or subnational conflict has generated much new thinking about conflict resolution and peace building processes.   It can be argued, that  considered as a body of work , the field of peace and conflict studies can now provide quite plausible and convincing answers to many of humanity’s perennial questions about the causes of war and the conditions of peace.  If true, this is no mean achievement.

One compelling finding in Peace Studies is a reaffirmation of the ancient spiritual principle found in nearly all faith traditions that inner and outer peace form a whole:  over the longer run you cannot have one without the other.   In other words, real peace can only be made and sustained by peaceful people.  The reader should not be misled or put off by the seemingly simplistic or idealistic tone of this statement.  It is put forth as a profound truth with very far reaching implications for humanity’s current struggle to find a way out of the spiraling violence and apparent chaos of our era.   It is an affirmation that while there are key social, political and economic dimensions to peace, there is also, and perhaps most importantly, a spiritual dimension.  Further, what happens at this level is reflected at the others.  No one would argue that the more exoteric elements of peace should be ignored, far from it:  but until it is possible to change the underlying values and consciousness that gave rise to and sustained violence at any level, it will be difficult if not impossible to consolidate any apparent progress toward lasting peace.  From this perspective, as the preamble to the UNESCO constitution states, wars do indeed “begin in the minds of men…”, and disarmament has to go beyond reducing and eliminating weapons to disarming the hearts and souls of women and men.  Or, put again simply:  peace has to include the whole person, and the whole person has a spiritual nature whose needs must be understood and met.”


June 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Sounds “shifty” to me

I just came across the “World Peace One” site and their movie project “The Shift”.  This merits some attention I think–check out the “cast”.  There are also a few indicative videos near the bottom of the page.


The SHIFT Movie

A Love Story About You, Me and All of Us Committed to our Collective Future

A feature theatrical transformational documentary

September 11, 2011 – Global Shift in Consciousness Day!

Film Synopsis

A massive worldwide phenomenon is in progress, sowing seeds of great hope for our collective future. Millions of individuals, as well as hundreds of organizations and corporations around the world, are waking up and embracing a new outlook with an emphasis on their responsibility to contribute positively to our collective future. We are in the midst of the biggest social transformation in human history, THE SHIFT.

The SHIFT, a feature length documentary film at the helm of a multiplatform global brand, is here to present a story of hope for a new world -one being born out of a decaying planet and an unsustainable paradigm of human behavior. This film sheds light on the beauty and magnificence of the human spirit, revealing itself in empowering ways all over the globe with messages of oneness, actions of love, courage and generosity, and passion for healing and peace.

The most visible face of THE SHIFT is the global environmental movement. However, this evolutionary phenomenon is broader and deeper. It involves our very understanding of who we are as human beings, and our responsibility to the world and to life itself.

THE SHIFT is the first feature film to reveal the proactive role we are now playing in the evolutionary shift of our collective consciousness. As it chronicles the faces, the stories, and the leaders assisting in this social transformation, the film reveals the phenomenon’s emergence and profound meaning.

This film includes global leaders, thinkers, scientists and futurists, as well as ordinary individuals doing extraordinary things. It includes recognizable, respected names such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, “What the Bleep” filmmaker-William Arntz, Paul Hawken, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Jane Goodall, Brian Swimme,Eurythmics musician Dave Stewart, microfinance genius Mohammed Yunis just to name a few. Celebrity activists in discussion include George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Martin Sheen, Jim Carey, Madonna, Susan Sarandon, Cameron Diaz among several others. And there is an amazing group of youth activists that include Mandela’s grandson, Cezda Dlamini, Derrick Ashong and star of “New World” (Pochahantas role), Qorianka Kilcher.

Created by a talented and seasoned group of filmmakers, shot in HD (top rated High Definition), the people and stories that are SHIFTING our world light up the screen in a visually stunning presentation with a fast paced, multi-story format. Scored by award winning composers, the music will take you on a journey that will magnify the emotional impact of its heart-opening content.”

June 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Going deeper into “sports and peace”

The post reposted below is interesting in and of itself; but it is also interesting because it shows how at least one researcher is going deeper into a topic that has, in many respects, been taken for granted:  specially, sports and can help improve relations between/among communities in conflict.  Here, Ms. Zahorsky is asking some very specific questions about how this can happen, when this can best be done and with what consequences.  For me, this is, in several respects, represents the “next stage” in peace-related research.



The When of Sport and Peace

Notes from Belfast, N. Ireland….

Sport is used at many levels – individual, communal, and internationally. It is used in places all around the world from soccer fields in South Africa to basketball courts in Jerusalem. Where and who a program works with are usually fairly evident. What is less often discussed is the “when” of sports programs. What temporal space do these programs fill? Where along a transition from conflict to peace are the being used? When are they most effective?

For must of our research this summer, we are dealing with “post-conflict” settings. I, like most in the field, tend to avoid the term post-conflict knowing how insufficient it is in describing reality. However, I use it here to suggest that these areas are in a state past full-out combat or are in a period following the peak in violence.

That being said, “peace” is also a misnomer. The “peace” walls in Belfast are the most stark example I have seen of Galtung’s “negative peace.” To “keep the peace”, these physical divisions are topped with spikes and barbed wire, they are decorated with sectarian murals, messages of peace, and graffiti. They are besieged by litter. The walls create a backdrop to small suburbs around the city, they cut through school yards and stand ominously between the narratives of both sides. They bar cross-community violence and reconciliation at the same time.

Sports are currently being used in this “when”, a timeframe of negative peace, to change the nature of community relations. To move through and beyond the walls, both literally and figuratively, to bring young people together and then send ripples of change through the community, from the children to their coaches and teachers, to their parents and families, to their friends and their families. All the while, this “when” remains very important as it is a lull of violence and illusion of peace that enables programs to bring groups together but it is the proximity to renewed violence that calls for peacebuilding. When I visited PeacePlayers International in Belfast, they showed sites where they had crossed the street between two schools or through a Peace Wall to hold “twinnings” – joint basketball practices with Catholic and Protestant youth. These short distances represented huge leaps for the community. To an outsider, it almost seemed to easier, but I soon realized that in order to have an hour long basketball practice they had to overcome invisible barriers, held up by longstanding narratives of the “other”, to work towards reconciliation and friendship.

As I continue to explore sports and peacebuilding in various contexts, I will keep in mind that it is not just the “where” and “who” that we need to consider, but also, to explore the “when”.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

New GPI data–and it ain’t lookin’ too good

There is a new set of Global Peace Index findings.  Here is a summary of the main findings:

The world is less peaceful for the third straight year

Due to an increased threat of terrorist attacks in 29 nations

A greater likelihood of violent demonstrations in 33 countries

Arab Spring unrest heralds biggest ever change in rankings, Libya tumbles 83 spots

Iceland bounces back from economic woes to top ranking

Somalia displaces Iraq as world’s least peaceful nation

Violence cost the global economy more than $8.12 trillion in 2010

US peacefulness shows minimal change

…and here’s a nice video about the GPI data.


There is lots more interesting stuff on the site.

IGBarb says:  “Check it out!”

June 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment


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