Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Causing Peace: A Nobel 'Call To Action'

I have found as a professional peacemaker that peace is much harder than conflict. Peace takes inner courage--the ability to look at one's self, deal with anxiety, overcome fear reactions, work around belief structures, separate out and identify emotions, and understand cognitive biases. That's just the inner work we each have to do. Then we have to turn to the person, group, or nation we have a conflict with and help them deal with anxiety, fears, belief structures, feelings and emotions, and cognitive biases. We have to create a deep empathic connection with someone we may at first hate or despise. If we get that far, we have to learn to engage in interest-based negotiation. We have to learn how to make good decisions on incomplete and uncertain information. We have to build mechanisms of trust through accountability, using cooperation as a model, not coercion. If all of this happens, then peace can occur. What is amazing, however, is that this happens every day. Whether I am working on a victim-offender mediation, or a half billion dollar commercial dispute or an intense family business conflict or a dysfunctional organizational conflict, peace happens. Would a Department of Peace make a difference? Maybe. But maybe a Department of Peace would give us each a personal excuse not to look in then reach out to make peace everyday to those we disagree with. After all, it's the government's job to make peace, not mine.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


At October 24, 2009 8:52 PM , Blogger Violence B. Gawn said...

I agree that peace begins from within, but I think you may be missing one of the primary elements of the Department of Peace legislation (H.R. 808) - education. The DOP will work with the Department of Education to ensure young people develop the skills they need to work with others to resolve disagreements nonviolently. Teaching the skill of nonviolent conflict resolution includes all of the aspects you mentioned - self-awareness, cultural awareness, empathy, etc.

Suggesting that the Department of Peace might give people an excuse to not work individually for peace would be like saying the Department of Transportation is responsible for driving me to work each day. Under the DOP, people who are involved in peacebuilding, meditation and conflict resolution will have the tools and resources they need to expand what they are currently doing to reach more people and have a much broader impact.

Check out The Peace Alliance ( and DoPeace ( to learn more.


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