IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

“Hunger” shouldn’t be a “game”

I am just coming to the end of my annual fasting period (which explains, at least in part, my lack of blog posts–sorry).   Fasting (in whatever form) has a number of benefits I think.  Many focus on the purely material aspect, but I think the inward, spiritual if you will, aspects are the most important (though, admittedly, the physical can certainly occupy most of your attention from time to time 🙂 ).  In my case, among other things, my ability to think abstractly seems to improve (or maybe I just get a bit vague due to low blood sugar, who knows), and my subjective “impressions” of things intensify.  This often gives me what seems to be a new perspective on certain things.

This is the case with the book/film, “The Hunger Games”, which is “hot” right now, I guess.  I have only read the first book, and have certainly not seen the film, however, I wanted to share my fast-heightened impression.  I find the premise of the first book absolutely appalling…frankly, beyond the limits of decency (rather like, if you saw that post, using pre-adolescents beating each other up in the re-make of karate kid).  If you are unfamiliar with the story (good for you–but you probably won’t be for long, given the media blitz), here is the basic idea.  To punish, and control, once rebellious provinces the central authority of an empire requires that each year every province send one child/adolescent to the capitol for a battle to the death called The Hunger Games.  Of course, the plucky and resourceful main character finds a way to survive and even subvert the system to the extent of actually getting her partner to survive with her.  Though I have deliberately not looked at plot summaries of the later volumes, I am guessing that she goes on to foster a successful rebellion against the central authority etc…

OK…so maybe there is a “happy ending”…but that is not my point.  I just find the initial premise so horrendous as to be completely off putting and unacceptable.    This again raises the question of how far authors have to go to excite the feelings of our jaded and emotionally dulled age.    Good grief:   every year, you have to make a sacrifice of children (whose deaths are described in some cases in lurid detail)?  What is all this supposed to tell us about the contemporary human condition?  Anything? … or is it just to sell books?  I guess you could say that an empire that has to ‘eat” its own children to survive is doomed to fall; and that is certainly presaged in the first book by the effeteness and superficial luxury in the capitol as contrasted with the misery of the provinces.

I suppose this is all just further evidence of how our culture has become “violencized”:  a word I just made up meaning infused with and accustomed to very violent acts and practices…and there is nothing very new about that.  Still, from a purely subjective perspective, this one “hit” me harder than many of the (many) others; probably because I am a parent.

I am certainly not saying the book/movie should be banned or boycotted, or anything like that.  I am only saying that if you too have the feeling that this is rather awful, you are not alone.  It is awful.

IGbarb says:   “Fighting to the death is a losing proposition for everybody:  all those who died, and the last one standing who had to kill to get there!”


March 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Bang! Bang! Bang!

I heard this (again, I guess) on an oldie station the other day.  Please take a moment to listen and read the lyrics. It says it all.  It tears my heart out.  This woman is a genius.

Here is the video of Ms. Chapman singing the song:  Bang! Bang! Bang!


Bang! Bang! Bang!  Lyrics

(Song for little man)

“What you go and do
You go and give the boy a gun
Now there ain’t place to run to
Ain’t no place to run

When he hold it in his hand
He feel mighty he feel strong
Now there ain’t no place to run to
Ain’t no place to run

One day he may come back
Repay us for what we’ve done
Then where you gonna run to
Where you gonna run

But one fine day
All our problems will be solved
Bang bang bang
We’ll shoot him down

Give him drugs and give him candy
Anything oohhh, to make him think he’s happy
And he won’t ever come for us
He won’t ever come

But if he does
And if there’s no one else around
Bang bang bang
We’ll shoot him down

If he preys only on his neighbors
Brothers sisters and friends
We’ll consider it a favor
We’ll consider justice done

But if he comes for you or me
And we can place a gun in his hand
Bang bang bang
We’ll shoot him dead

What you go and do
You go and give the boy a gun
Now there ain’t no place to run to
Ain’t no place to run

Now we’ll all be at his mercy
If he decides to hunt us down
Cause there ain’t no place to run to
Ain’t no place to run

If he wants the chances that you took from him
And nothing that you own
Then there’ll be no place to run to
There’ll be no place to run

And if he finds himself to be
A reflection of us all
Bang bang bang
He’ll shoot us down

Before you can raise your eyes to read
The writing on the wall
Bang bang bang
He’ll shoot you down

Before you can bridge the gulf between
And embrace him in your arms
Bang bang bang
He’ll shoot you down”

IGbarb says:  “For God’s (and your own) sake, raise your eyes, bridge the gap!”

January 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More on women and peacebuilding

Pretty strong support for an idea we all suspected was true.
New UNFPA Report Links Peace, Security and Development to Women’s Rights and Empowerment


    LONDON, 20 October 2010—When women have access to the same rights and opportunities as men, they are more resilient to conflict and disaster and can lead reconstruction and renewal efforts in their societies, according to The State of World Population 2010, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

    The report’s release coincides with the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council’s landmark resolution 1325, which aimed to put a stop to sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict and to encourage greater participation by women in peacebuilding initiatives.

    “When women and girls suffer deep discrimination, they are more vulnerable to the worst effects of disaster or war, including the weapon and humiliation of rape, and less likely to contribute to peacebuilding, which threatens long-term recovery,” said UNFPA’s Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid at the launch of the report.

    “If we’re serious about preventing conflicts, recovering from war and natural disaster and building lasting peace, we need to empower women, as well as the young and the elderly, to become agents of positive change,” Ms. Obaid added.

    Through the stories of individuals affected by conflict or catastrophe in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Liberia, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Timor-Leste and Uganda, the report shows how communities and civil society are healing old wounds and moving forward. However, more still needs to be done to ensure that women have access to services and have a voice in peace deals or reconstruction plans.

    Security Council resolutions guide the international community’s response to conflict and establish the framework for actions to protect women and assure their participation in peacebuilding and reconciliation, “but they are not a substitute for grass-roots efforts to empower women and to build long-term resilience to crises of any sort,” Ms. Obaid wrote in the foreword to the report.

    “Governments need to seize opportunities arising out of post-conflict recovery or emerging from natural disasters to increase the chances that countries are not just rebuilt, but built back better and renewed, with women and men on equal footing, with rights and opportunities for all and a foundation for development and security in the long run,” the report argues.

    While conflict and disaster can worsen inequalities between men and women, Ms. Obaid said, “recovery from conflict and disaster also presents a unique opportunity—an opportunity to rectify inequalities, ensure equal protection under the law, and create space for positive change.”


    UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.


    October 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

    Man UP (and away?)

    I just learned about “Man UP”:

    “The Campaign

    Violence against women
    is not just a women’s issue,
    it’s everyone’s issue.

    Man Up is a global campaign, launched in September of 2009, to activate youth to stop violence against women and girls. Our call to action challenges each of us to “man up” and declare that violence against women and girls must end.

    In order to break the cycle of trauma and misinformation unabated violence against women and girls bestows on individuals, families, communities and societies around the world, Man Up Campaign was created to give young people a voice in developing models of change that truly address this issue.

    Through the universal platforms of sport, music, technology and the arts, Man Up Campaign is partnering with young men and women around the world by providing innovative training, resources and support to youth informed initiatives. This partnership works to build a network of young advocates and defenders, linking their efforts to those of community based and mainstream organizations, entertainment and sports communities, non-profits and corporations towards our common cause.

    This summer, Man Up will bring together a prestigious team of delegates, along with artists, athletes and activists to launch a five-year campaign at an inaugural Young Leaders Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. ”

    Go to the site and you can get involved!

    IGbarb says:  “This is a no-brainer.  Not much future for a society that does violence to its mothers, daughters, wives and sisters.  Hello men…are you listening?”

    March 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

    Violence really does breed violence

    We live in interesting, not to say confusing times. In world affairs, for instance, there is no real consensus about values, norms and how to resolve things. Some say power is the final arbiter, some say we need more international law and organization, some say a bit of both. World order is not very well defined.

    The actions of states, particularly the big ones, can push world order more towards order, if you will, or more toward chaos and violence. So, if the big states show contempt for international law and international institutions, this makes the views of those who only believe in power seem more plausible, and world order drifts more towards Thomas Hobbes’s “state of war” (Hobbes never actually said, btw, that the society of sovereigns was like a state of nature…go look it up 🙂 ). In this context, “moderate” voices advocating diplomacy, etc.. look weak. However, if/when the leading states act to consolidate and expand international law and organization, and, generally, promote cooperation over conflict, then this becomes more acceptable, violence becomes less acceptable, and world order evolves more toward a community (of sorts).

    In a nut shell violence, on almost any level, tends to validate its own further use, since it contributes to a climate in which only violence seems to be an effective way to achieve important ends. This trend can be reversed, but the longer it goes on the more intuitive it seems to become, and therefore the harder it is to conceive and promote alternate approaches to conflict resolution.

    September 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Does individual human aggressiveness explain war?

    People (many people anyway) do behave aggressively; no doubt about it (you probably know some 🙂 ). Some have even argued that aggression is instinctual, left over from our animal past. In animals aggression is probably a good thing, since it means that herds, etc…remain the right size for the given food resources in an area. That’s one reason why alpha males chase away others and make them go start their own herds elsewhere. If there are too many of a given species on a given amount of territory the food would be exhausted with disastrous consequences for the species.

    However, in people, while aggression is certainly present, there isn’t much proof it is instinctive. Still, it is widespread in certain cultures and contexts. So, does that “pool” of aggression help to explain wars? Does the aggression sort of spill over against foreigners? I don’t think so. Why, because it takes a lot of training to get soldiers to kill, whereas you would think, if they were just overflowing with aggression they would only need the tools and to be pointed in the right direction. Rather, it seems soldiers kill primarily to protect themselves, their countries, communities and–most important for men–their buddies among their fellow soldiers. So even if there is a lot of aggression on the individual level, it is very hard to see how that gets aggregated and channeled into a large scale collective undertaking like a war.

    The search for the cause of war continues!

    September 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

    I bet you thought you knew what violence is!

    Well, sure…if somebody hits you, that is an act of violence, most of the time. Still there could be many reasons for someone to hit you. They might be trying to do something for you, like hitting you on the back to help you stop coughing. So, intent comes into the matter somewhere. Or consider somebody cutting somebody else with a knife: could be a murderer, or could be a surgeon. Again, context and intent matter in identifying violence. Of course, if you go to a dictionary you will find several meanings, some of which are rather abstract: as in “doing violence” to something.

    Here I would like to share with you one (of many) interesting (and somewhat controversial) ideas of Johan Galtung. He said there were three kinds of violence: direct, structural and cultural. The first is what we usually think of: doing things to other people (or ourselves, for that matter) which hurt or kill, with the intent to hurt or kill. The second is the harm that results from unjust social systems that systematically deprive some people of their needs for education, food, security, etc…This second form may work more slowly, but its overall effect, given the prevalence of poverty and deprivation of various kinds in our world, may be as great or greater than the first kind. Then, there is the third category, which refers to culturally entrenched forms of prejudice (racism, sexism, etc…) that justify and even “normalize” either of the other two kinds of violence.

    I have always felt that Galtung’s categories make a lot of sense. However, he has often been criticized for the second, and by implication, the third, since those call into question aspects of the status quo in the society where they occur; and more particularly they may call into question the vested interests of those groups who happen to benefit from that status quo. Not to mince words, conservative thinkers don’t much like the idea of structural violence, since it seems to indicate the need for reform and reform means change, and probably some redistribution of wealth and other benefits to help the victims of unjust structures.

    This is a very useful set of categories, and like all good typologies it gets you thinking about the relationships among the categories: what leads to what? That is too big a question for this post, but I will try to get back to it later

    July 28, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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