Importance of Building Peace

/ 16 January 2017

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day when we remember one of the key figures in the Civil Rights Movement here in the United States. This year the week we’re starting today also marks the presidential transition from Barack Obama to Donald Trump, with the Inauguration this Friday. On this holiday of remembrance and as we look ahead with inevitability to the upcoming administration, I feel it is important to take a moment to rekindle everyone’s understanding of just how important the task of building peace, not just being peaceful, is in our society, and to give some resources worth keeping track of in what I’m not alone in feeling will be a possibly darker time for our country and world than we have had over the past eight years.

This week will be interesting in that we move from remembering a figure of the Civil Rights era to having a presidential administration whose proposed policies (from the prospective of Democrats anyway, but notably also many international communities) run largely counter to the values of a modern democracy that is a post-Civil Rights Movement society, which are ostensibly where we’ve been for the past more than a decade. Dare I say we’ll have the opposite feelings of a standard workweek. Joyous remembrances today and sorrow this Friday. At least, I suspect that those I surround myself with will be feeling that way…

I know that I have emphasized this here before, but the difference between simply the absence of violence, or Negative Peace, and the building of a society that has equal and just policies, or Positive Peace, (to vastly water down the differences between those) is important to note in this context. While Negative Peace is the simpler goal to achieve, it is not the kind of society we really need and is not what is necessary to sustainably move forward. While establishing a system void of conflict is important, there need to be those of us around thinking of the further goal of a Positive Peace in our society. I would hope that we can seriously start to define how that may be worked on, as we begin to see what 2017 and beyond bring us.

Here are some assorted resources to help think about the kind of peace we need in our society that are worth keeping track of:

  • The resources published by the Albert Einstein Institution, where Gene Sharp's work is
  • Local organizations working for peace and in many ways even just ones working on the general betterment of society are worth knowing about and, if possible, helping out with. I won’t give any specific suggestions of such organizations here, since I do not want to favor any over others nor favor any specific geographic regions.
  • The work and philosophy of Tich Nhat Hahn
  • Erica Chenoweth’s research
  • I don't mean to toot my own horn so to speak, but the posts in the Peace Studies category here on my blog provide some inspiration and resources. Particularly the research I undertook on Peer Mediation is one way we could use to introduce some concepts of peaceful resolution to conflicts to children, and as such the next generation.

Finally, I want to encourage you all to share this post with anyone who’d appreciate it, and to add resources and ideas yourselves in the comments here (as well as alongside sharing this post) for each other to find as no single person can create an exhaustive list. I mainly mean to provide a starting point here for us all to add to. Throughout Donald Trump’s impending presidency we must be a light keeping the ideals of a peaceful society alive, even if we find our country and society plunged into something less than peaceful in the coming weeks and months.