IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

“…and then there was….what was there?”*

Just me noting a few things I have found interesting.

First, as I suspected the whole Euro issue would push the EU toward more governance.  Of course, many countries don’t like this; but personally, I think the Euro is here to stay and more centralized fiscal control is an inevitability.  Today Europe…tomorrow (well not exactly tomorrow, but anyway…) the world!

Second,  it is amazing how information diffuses these days, and also amazing that people who nobody thought were really interested in democracy, seem to be interested after all.  Who knew?  In fact, though, it is probably not democracy in any specific form that they want (you can fill in the names for the “they” here–just pick up a newspaper).  They want to have some say over what happens to them, they want to have a sense of identity that is not constantly being called into question by events…and they want to live in a society with meaningful relationships that confirm their identity and help them to participate in what shapes their lives.  We all want this.  You can call this human rights, or essential freedoms, or whatever.  It is what humans (as John Burton pointed out quite a few years ago now) need to be fully human.  Also, and this is the part we are seeing today:  it can’t be taken away forever; or, for that matter negotiated away.  People will, sooner or later, rise up to take it back.

Politics is a dependent variable.  Huh?  Well, while we go on and on about who is governing whom and who might get the chance to replace them in what election, we lose sight of the bigger picture, which I suspect has to do with the fact that our values and our culture pretty much determine what happens in our politics.  So, if you want to change politics (heck, what right-thinking person doesn’t?) you have to change those values and, by implication, the culture in which they are embedded….which explains, to some extent at least, why I am a teacher and not a politician.  True, I teach about politics, but I don’t practice what most would consider politics…but believe me, I see myself very much involved in the process of global change (even if in a small way).

We really need to unite, at least to a basic workable level, our planet.  Heck we are finding more and more  possibly inhabitable worlds.  Sooner, rather than later, the Star Trek scenario will be upon us (ie when we start to move at light speed through space).  Heaven (literally) only knows what will happen at that point.  Personally, I think we need all hands on deck on spaceship earth for what will be a probably never ending series of challenges without precedent.  No more time for squabbles, or neglecting suffering, or stupid prejudices…Everybody is “us”…no more”them”.  If you don’t get that, take a really hard look at the stars some night…a real hard, real long look.  Let that good old cosmic insignificance sink deep into you.  If you do this, you just might, as I did at one point, realize that that very feeling (as uncomfortable as it can be) is a creative force.  We really are all in this planetary life thing together.  There really is, as Sartre said, “no exit”.  Or, as Stuart Brand, creater of the Whole Earth Catalogue used to say “we are as gods, so we might as well get good at it”.

IGbarb says:  “Gods are as gods do…be as godly as you can!”

* I think this is from Frank Zappa, but I’m not sure (Karl Weaver are you out there?)


December 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy warriors? Holy mackeral!

I don’t want to offend anybody, but as a “peacenik” I find the idea of “holy warrior” something of an oxymoron–at least these days.  I understand a little about the “jihadist” mindset and its reputed historical origins at the time of the Prophet himself.  BTW, there are a variety of views about what Jihad means and how it should be carried out, and they do not all involve arms.  I am also a little informed about the Christian crusader tradition, and about the actual “ups and downs” –both military and moral–of the crusaders in the Middle Ages.  I can even remember as a child being fascinated with the Crusades and having a very hard time accepting that, at the end of the day (and despite the nearly 100 years of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem) Europe lost.

What is on my mind today is just how inappropriate, ineffective and generally problematic the “holy warrior” concept/image is in our era.  It may have had its time, utility and raison d’etre, but there are many indicators that that time is past (at least, IMHO).  Killing for God, just doesn’t work anymore.  Why?  well, I don’t think it is very complicated.  In our day, it is rather clear that (as always) violence surely breeds violence.  So unless you kill or convert everybody, you are just going to raise the overall level of violence and vengeance in the world by behaving this way; and it is hard to see how that is good for anybody except, maybe, the arms merchants.  I’m not sure any contemporary “holy warriors” have a real chance to convert or kill everybody who doesn’t agree with them, so it might be time to seriously think about changing tactics (whoever you are and whatever your agenda might be).  So how about instead of “kill or convert”, we try something like “educate and convince”?  Just a thought 🙂

That being said, remember I am a political scientist more or less specialising in the Global South.  So, I know that many times “religion” is a vehicle for pursuing what are really very much earthly political goals.  However, if people can appreciate that the “old school” holy warrior mode/mindset might actually be counter-productive for their faith(s) and at the same time make them the pawns of ideologues and demagogues with other agendas, we might start to see a change in the right direction…something more along the lines of “blessed are the peacemakers”.

IGbarb says:  “Beat your swords into ploughshares (it’s about time, right?).”

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


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