What is Peace?
Experiences like tranquility, serenity, mental calmness, and social conditions such as being free from war help to give meaning to the concept of peace (Abate, 1998). Peace is the result of and reliant upon personal, social, biological and environmental conditions. The knowledge and choices people make, the level of awareness attained and behaviors are very important to the efficiency, advancement, or hindrance of peace.
Ultimately peace traditions advance and protect well being. Nonviolence practices help to identify, prevent and reduce harm in thought and deed while advocating, demonstrating, protecting and increasing tranquility, serenity, mental calmness or peace.
Healthy social development is achieved through the adoption of sustainable behaviors which do not restrict development or impose harm. In contrast, wasteful and most violent behaviors are depleting and not considered sustainable, whereas nonviolent behaviors are considered sustainable.
The goal of peace includes the promotion of nonviolent solutions to problems and the visible demonstrations of sustainable behaviors. Sustainable behavior is behavior that encourages the well being of life or otherwise supports it. Peace traditions present opportunities for the maximization of the potential for healthy social development. Healthy social development is the natural progression of life that is not interrupted or subject to preventable harmful interference. Healthy social and healthy biological developments are more likely to result when sustainable behaviors are demonstrated. Healthy social development practices aim to remove obstacles and limitations to well being that evidently result from human behaviors.
Citizens for Peace work towards greater equality, social and economic stability and the empowerment of its practitioners.
Peace practitioners increase or reinforce healthy aspects of life and work to reduce suffering and waste where possible. Violence is any human idea or action that causes harm or restricts the freedom to exist in harmony or peace. Therefore, working to reduce and contain violence or spread nonviolence are both equally central to the work and success of Peace Officers, Militants and concerned active people worldwide. Peace practices involve ways of life that work to decrease ignorance and violence either through prevention oriented strategies such as education, or interventions such as mediation, conflict resolution, and even mental health treatments.
Lifestyles are powerful demonstrations that can be, and in some cases, must be improved upon and refined. John McConnell (2002), founder of Earth Day wrote, “world peace requires a basic long-term commitment to change attitudes and conduct, and to develop structures and programs that will foster peaceful progress in the care of Earth and in our relationships with each other.” The goal of peace requires evaluations of the administration of justice because diverse cultural attitudes regarding what fairness means are clearly evident. Defining a respectable and practical set of standards that at a bare minimum protects the safety and welfare of life is a constant challenge the inhabitants of the world face. While there is no justice like direct justice, having an informed and responsible populace capable of rending justice is easier said that done.
The human population is estimated to be 6 billion (Population Institute, 2002) and is estimated to nearly double to 11 billion by 2038 (Kaufman & Franz 1996 pg. 145). With increased demands placed by growing populations the need for harmony is ever more present. In order to meet growing needs, people will need to be more efficient, more harmonious, more cooperative, and more considerate in limiting or directing destructive behaviors to better ends.
Peace processes need to be sensitive to meet the reasonable needs of society in a responsible and timely manner because there is such a thing as being too late. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Lori Kearns and Dave Marquis, 1986). While some civil rights and social conditions have continued to be improved in some segments of society over the last century, it is obvious that many social and environmental conditions have worsened. For example, human interventions and manipulations of nature have caused or sped mutations to occur (Carson, Rachel yr) . Damages resulting from technological innovations such as the tools or by products of war exemplify a need and perhaps modify traditions of science and defense. War and ecological devastation are examples of suffering that can be minimized and controlled to some extent depending on prevailing attitudes, choices, and collective behaviors that drive and respond to war-based industries and interests.
Taking Responsible Actions and Being Accountable
The worsening of the human condition is to some degree dependent on human behavior- what we do and what we fail to do. The extent and direction of social change efforts largely depends on the cooperative participation and actions of diverse community members. Being a good peace demonstrator is one of the best ways to contribute to or increase peace in the world because when you shine you attract and others will want to model your success. Each of us can and should do what ever we can reasonably do to constructively de-escalate or resist violence because peace activities are consistent with our own survival interests. The positive social ramifications of effective peace demonstrations, no matter how small, have residual impacts and are cumulative contributions with observable outcomes.
Positive reinforcement is a process of supporting ideas or behaviors through the use of rewards or encouragement that can have positive and/or negative results. Advocating and administering the positive reinforcement of ideas and actions that serve and result in protecting the public’s needs and interests are valuable and useful services that aid healthy developments. Removing positive reinforcement of negative behaviors is also very important.
Critical Factors That Impact Attitudes, Choices and Behaviors
Harmful waste production and the over reliance on non renewable resources like fossil fuels and oil found in nature that may be depleted continues to mislead, harm and threaten global safety and welfare. People must demand faster conversion to safer alternatives where those alternatives may already exist.
Many of the observed plant and animal extinctions to date have resulted from humanities more ignorant interventions and manipulations of nature, mainly pollution and habitat destruction. It is illogical to destroy species or to risk species destruction because the knowledge of the role species play in maintaining natural balances is not fully known. What is known about the natural world points to incredible natural systems that are intimately and universally linked.
Ecosystems are mutually reliant and support life in unique and fascinating ways. Thus, human perceptions, especially the problematic idea of human superiority contain serious errors. Such problems also contain potentials for reform and reveals evidences of errors or abuses stemming from ignorance that contribute to self imposed developmental limitations. Community members whom subscribe to ideologies that argue human superiority suggest that our species has observable traits viewed by some as being advanced. However, the claim of being advanced or superior can also be viewed as a distorted mental construct that can be explained by a fear of nature, bias, inappropriate standards, false projections and human-centric criteria that actually reveal limited understandings of how the diversity of intelligence works and can be valued. The assumption of human superiority is incredibly dangerous and disrespectful because it undermines the important supportive roles other life forms play. The domination of nature may be seen as a result of exaggerated natural survival instincts, and even the misinterpretation of Christian and other religious texts. While theories of human superiority may help to explain humanities immature values or obsessive efforts to dominate nature, such theories do produce harm because actions that are based on such illogical contradictory rationalizations or interpretations have led to harmful developments and abnormal/ unhealthy social tolerances. For example, technological inventions such as pollution and popular non-organic agricultural and unhealthy dietary practices have clearly been linked to numerous environmental and leading health crises. Yet, the popular notions of development and success are often associated with toxin producing processes. For example, Nuclear power, automobiles, or even the common salad that is laced with cancer causing pesticides, herbicides, preservatives and growth hormones. All of which are actually proving to be depleting, destructive and harmful to health, productivity, and reproductively.
Are the rates of extinctions growing rapidly in contrast to earlier periods of history? Commenting on recent studies conducted by Stanford Ecologist Dr. Paul Ehrlich, Shwartze wrote, “even the most conservative estimate derived from their study indicates that about 2 percent of all mammal populations have been lost worldwide -- a figure higher than the global species extinction rate among mammals, estimated to be about 1.8 percent” (Shwartze, 2002). Ehrlich clarified that, “the loss of mammal populations actually may be much more severe -- perhaps 10 percent or higher” (Shwartze, 2002). Could the estimates of species extinctions and extinction projections be alarmingly underestimated? An obvious limitation in estimating species loss is that many species may vanish (or may have already vanished) before being identified or discovered. The natural world has been under increasing pressure as human populations have expanded and as technological innovations and lifestyles have placed unique demands on natural resources which has led to the displacement of tribal communities and wildlife globally.
Do people know what they are doing?
While some people who display exploitive or wasteful lifestyles apparently do not account for or care about the long term consequences, or the real costs that such destructive lifestyles entail, it is possible the vast majority who are displaying exploitive and wasteful lifestyles are simply modeling such lifestyles without being aware of the adverse impacts that are resulting from their behaviors. The commitment to reducing waste and increasing efficiency through the implementation of healthier and more sustainable behaviors offers a chance to modify and decrease exploitive and wasteful lifestyles and maximize the potentials for healthier development. This general commitment should be reflected in the behavior of people and governing institutions and deserves broader association to success because it improves the quality of life. Due to the massive pressures impacting the environment including population growth, humanity must be highly organized and cooperative to minimize crises which can be reasonable predicted.
Gross abuses and evidences of injustice should compel the informed members of society to take and reinforce actions that seriously confront and combat such trespasses. Increasing public awareness, encouraging participation in government and empowering people to accept and meet certain basic responsibilities is a response that must be firmly and generously supported. For democracy to survive, the voices of the disenfranchised must be heard and they must be given the right and ability to participate in more ways than showing up on statistical reports of those forcibly dislocated, unemployed, imprisoned or homeless in a state of destitute and totally despair. In many so called less developed traditions of the world, the condition and idea of homelessness does not exist because the culture has built in mechanisms of care that would never permit one of their own to reach that condition. Perhaps we can learn from these cultures?
There are marked improvements in worker rights, civil rights, women’s rights and greater awareness in conservation since some recent low points in the last several millenniums of recorded history across diverse cultures. However, the rate of progress and the priority of applying human and natural resources should correspond with addressing the greatest outstanding and predictable needs of life. Thus, it is important that general agreements be struck to identify and confront the most critical issues in meaningful forums.
People are more effective helping others once they are well established themselves. The great importance of individual empowerment cannot be overemphasized. The growth of peace also depends on the determination of people to invite others into a culture that celebrates life and protects its integrity. The empowerment of individuals depends on a cooperative collective effort. Margaret Mead said it best, “never doubt that a small group can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
You are what you eat!
The politics of food are directly connected to social and environmental crises including forest and habitat destruction. Soil erosion, the process of accelerated soil removal at greater rates than soil is formed has become an increasingly important global problem over the last one hundred years. Ignorant decisions and behaviors that produce water pollution, the production of weapons of mass destruction, war, starvation, poverty, genocide, greed, and other forms of violence are directly related to the politics of food. For example, tearing down trees in the Amazon to grow beef impacts the capacity to turn harmful carbon dioxide into clean oxygen, dislocates native tribes, disrupts natural life habitats, eliminates species and human cultures, impacts population movements and population growth trends in addition to spreading disease which results from the consumption of the final beef products.
Dietary choices impact personal, social and environmental health. Observing a healthy vegetarian or lower meat based diets as recommended by the eminent U.S. expert on Nutrition, Dr. Spock just prior to his death (1998 Brody, Jane) or by Dr. Balch (1990), Dr. Gordon (1996), or John Robbins (2001) is highly recommended. The chance of developing cancer and many other health problems can be reduced or increased depending on dietary choices and the production and exposure levels of hazardous pollution. For example, foods laced with carcinogenic pesticides and foods with carcinogenic preservatives contribute to the formation of illnesses or cancers. Increasing the use of organic food production without reliance on fossil fuels and the preservation or purification of water supplies from pollution would likely be greatly increased if the reliance on toxin producing industries and the production of hazardous materials were adequately replaced with safer options. Besides combating human ignorance’s fueled by greed there are also technological limitations and non-implementation problems and resistance issues that help to explain why many of the cleaner alternatives now known have not been implemented or widely implemented to reduce, or in many cases eliminate harmful polluting emissions.
The U.S. Environmental Act of 1970 was a good idea, but it has failed almost entirely as enforcement is weak and public participation lacking.
The links between health, safety and innovative responses are critical to development in multiple arenas. Implementing advanced ecologically sustainable designs as suggested by Sim Van Der Ryn (1996) and modifying the current problematic designs demands an incredible transformation of human values and a re-application of human and natural resources. Yet, to not advance and speed the transition to ecologically sustainable designs could be viewed as interfering with the opportunity to reduce suffering and could prolong and add to the miseries resulting from the predominately wasteful and harmful existing designs now in use in the U.S. in fields such as agriculture, transportation, labor, health and human services, civil engineering and defense just to name a few. For example, in the field of health and human services existing rehabilitation programs and detention centers need to be subjected to thorough reviews to evaluate efficiency and to determine and further promote successful techniques and strategies found that help individuals overcome harmful behaviors such as chemical dependencies, violence, or other de-habilitating behaviors. Successful programs that exist here in the U.S. and abroad should be modeled and more widely instituted replacing programs that are failing.
Current and projected economic losses that result from environmental destruction or other antisocial behaviors are and will continue to be astronomical until temporary economic profits, inaccurate accounting methods, and distorted social values are addressed. Regardless of differences in lifestyles and pursuits, practical results that are supportive are a must where biological stability is concerned. Science has progressed to a point where fundamental assertions about the maintenance and establishment of equilibriums is settled to a large degree. The age old battle of good versus evil is an archetype that may be viewed as a spiritual test, or a test in the will of humanity to discover the kinship of all things. Whether it is related to this world or another is of no consequence. Thus, it does not matter if we call it fate or faith, the results must weigh more on the side of the realization of a reverence of life and our mutual reliance upon it, if we intend to enjoy our intelligence and the opportunities that life affords.
The non-acceptance of healthy social development responsibilities results from the toleration of corruption, a negligent lack of care to treat unhealthy fears like denial which is often convienently resorted to for self preservation or distorted self-fullfillment. For example, attempts to meet immediate or impulsive goals without controls or consideration for results can result from skill deficits and a lack or social pressures to create moral controls such as laws or other traditions. However, ignorance and a lack of compassion, mis-directd commitment, and a lack of understanding regarding what healthy social responsibilities are, and how they can be realized or achieved may explain the more significant challenges to producing more sustainable and healthier human behaviors in general. Ignorance versus a lack of empathy may be an easier battle to win because schema shifts in response to new information or experience may be easier to achieve than transforming people with empathy deficits at deeper emotional levels, but it would be a mistake to assume that knowledge is a dominant factor in human behavior (Jackson, R. 2004.)
Many people suffer from negative thinking, assuming they can not do anything to impact things to better themselves or others. On the otherhand there are many over optimistic idealistic people that assume they have the answers, but those solutions are often not full-proof. Even those with answers that are practical face uphill battles to have people listen or use their ideas. The result is a sincere need for leadership that provides ways for people to genuinely participate in enrichment programs that deliver what they profess.
Don’t water the seed of ignorance!
What do healthy rational behaviors or non-detrimental behaviors essential for survival and the welfare of life look like? The answer may provide the necessary wisdom that at a minimum helps people set goals to allow for the development of healthy and practical discriminations for what is beneficial behavior versus what is harmful. Perhaps such diolog will create discourse that helps in the formulation of plans that exceed mere survival and improve upon moral systems. For example, competition is healthy when it drives civilization to refine, advance and improve. Competition is unhealthy when it results in harm. When competition eliminates variety or when competition leads to monopolization the elimination of variety and decreased public control, potentials are not maximized and suffering is created. In such scenarios the methods, directions and extent of competitions need to be evaluated and reformed, but competition, money, or power themselves are not the problems. It is the use of those tools and the consequences of those uses that warrant concerns and require skepticism, informed debate and at times, critical swift changes. Both Dr. Carson (1962 pg. 6) and Dr. Caldicott (1994 pg.22) have reported, Strontium 90 an ingredient used in the making of nuclear bombs is released into the air and below ground during atomic explosions. This discharge travels in air and water bodies and rains as nuclear fall-out. This material like other forms of harmful waste travels through the food chain, inevitably entering human beings and concentrating in our bodies. Many toxins lodge in bones or fat until those hosts decay and the cycle of contamination continues until the life of the substance is over, which can be millions of years depending on the life of the chemical agent. Nuclear fallout has been found in soil samples and bones in many parts of the world. Because such materials can cause damage to living organism in a variety of ways by impacting their central nervous system and altering genetic material, causing infertility and a variety of diseases it is important to question the legitimacy of arguments, laws and industries that attempt to rationalize the manufacture and use of such devastating materials. The same could be said for literally hundreds of thousands of other man-made toxic chemicals. Ironically, in many instances harmful methods or products reinforce unhealthy or impractical goals when in many cases better options to reach better goals are available or could be developed given knowledge already in existence. For example, pest control can be achieved by biological predator controls and diversified crop planting strategies that are often less expensive, much less dangerous thann toxic chemical controls and many times more effective in most cases ( ).
Another radical policy change in the U.S. that could help address the growing need for jobs and the need to transfer skills from aging populations to workers just entering the workforce could be the reduction of the work week from 40 hours to 30 hours. This would reinvigorate the economy by offering more stability in families, education, and result in a society that is more participatory and one that will be less strained. The idea would depend on cooperation from landowners that would proportiantly reduce rents, and the federal government that may lower interest rates on loans and so forth which would attact more people into suffering economic regions and increase property value. Lowering property taxes would also spur growth in the market. This solution addresses the need to exchange information to incoming workers to keep business strong and lowers the loss of knowledge as the aging population retires. Crime, poverty, and unemployment is also potentially lowered which improves the quality of life. Many countries already have this 30 hour work week practice firmly in place so existing models can help make the transition smoother. However, a 30 hour work week without support on the housing side would be detrimental, it would also be detrimental if new jobs were not actually created. Who will be the watchdog and what sort of enforcement should such a radical idea have if implemented? Perhaps such a program should be by application and be subject to audits and be optional versus mandatory and initially limited to specific target areas or industries? A health insurance alternative is also needed so that extra costs are not deterants to employers as we shift to this model.
Healthy Self Determination & Empowerment
On his (2001) Organic Living tour Woody Harrelson whom is a famous actor in the U.S. said, “Examine your own life and identify how you are feeding the beast.” Woody was driving home the message that each of us can and should use our power to make better decisions and remove any reinforcements provided that maintains injustice or harm. Yet, without sufficient opportunity, or favorable or supportive conditions, becoming empowered and exercising power in a consistent nonviolent manner is easier said than done. Humanist psychologist Carl Rogers promoted a theory that postulated that people generally seek to advance or improve themselves especially when they are aware of the choices that help them grow because people have a natural tendency to enhance, actualize or become whole (1957, pg. 287 Hall & Lindzey). Hall and Lindzey (1957 pg. 287) quoted Dr. Rogers; “behavior is basically the goal directed attempt of the organism to satisfy its needs as experienced, in the field as perceived (1951 pg.491).” Therefore, effective parenting,education, and rehabilitation programs should help to secure support, methods, plans, and procedures, for actions that meet healthy individual or social needs. Empowerment processes have theraputic regiments to help combat unhealthy interpretations of needs and coaching where adjustments need to be made. The line between empowerment and oppression, leadership and tyranny, knowledge and dogma is thin, but the difference is great.
A 1985 study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health surveyed 20,000 people in the U.S. The study revealed that approximately one in three of the study participants had experienced some form of mental illness at some point in their lives ( Sue, Sue, Sue 2000 pg. 14). Given the magnitude and prevalence of mental illness and its relatively broad ranging impact on suffering individuals and society, mental illness may be recognized as a common occurrence. Unfortunately, it is especially important to treat and understand mental illnesses because technologically speaking the ability of individuals to execute mass devastation has been dramatically advanced. Not everyone suffering illness is aware of it and seeks treatment (Terrell, 2000). Many people are denied adequate health care due to the expense and practices that health insurance industries and health providers impose. Unfortunately, in the case of the mentally ill, the differently abled and the disabled, a large number become outcasts in society and are either locked up in jails or suffer homelessness on the streets.
Strange or unusual behaviors that deviate from the norm are referred to as abnormal behaviors in behavioral science. Some abnormal behaviors threaten peace and are responsible for harms, but there are a number of methods available to modify or control such antisocial behaviors.
Mass madness is a term used here to describe mental illnesses that become widespread or popular. Distorted thinking or harmful behaviors are common in mental illnesses known collectively as nuerosis. A popular symptom of mental illness that is common in violent antisocial people is a lack of an ability to care or empathize. Many, people suffering mental illness have histories of being victims of violent sexual or physical abuse, and many, have histories of substance or chemical abuse. A huge segment of incarcerated criminals also have drug dependecy and abuse histories. Logically the preventative approach to controlling and limiting mental illness would require more adequate measures to prevent malnutrition, domestic violence, rape and more educational interventions to empower people with skills or exercises to cope with stress, manage and constructively direct anger or rage, and the availability of professional help. The unhealthy conditioning of violence through modern media is a further reinforcement of intense and impractical violence that simply must be removed regardless of the loss in revenues. Providing intensive individualized and free mental health services for the mentally ill will likely have positive consequences and result in massive savings diverted from the prison industry while simultaneously drastically improving the quality of life for the patient and society in general. If we examine suicide rates and population trends in suicide, we can identify areas where reform is needs to occur and re-examine how we can address the difficulties at-risk populations face.
Establishing healthy self-concepts and nurturing feelings of self-worth leads to the development of healthy self-esteem. Compassion as a moral principle provides a framework upon which basic equality and appreciation for diversity can stand upon. When people possess healthy self esteem, and empathy empowerment naturally follows. The self actualizing most successful people in the world possess a sense of purpose and are in the active pursuit of accomplishing goals*See incongruence and nuerosis.
Is it possible that tactics of terror are common because when people are divided and fearful they are easier to manipulate? Controlling language, reassigning value and meanings can be oppressive, liberating or empowering depending on intentions and the end results. Education is an indicator of the welfare of any society. If the goal is to reduce terror including crime rates and suicide rates, then we must turn our attention to uniting people and helping them to acuire skills and courage to combat corruption spawn from ignorance, illnesses, and oppression.