Friday, November 3, 2017

Tasks of Peace

Remembrance Day is upon us. At this time we are to show our respect for those that gave everything. To live in a country such as Canada we hold an unspoken promise/obligation which is best stated in the last verse of the poem In Flanders Fields:
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep.
For some of us, paying taxes is where the obligation ends. Luckily, many expand their responsibility to voting, take part in community organizations, attend meetings, volunteer and/or make donations. There are so many ways to fulfill our duty to hold the torch high that it is difficult to believe a society could ever breakdown into war. Sadly the precipice of chaos is never to far off.

You see, very few of us really count the true weight of peace. In truth, each of us is responsible for every death and injury of our soldiers, police or any person working on our behalf. Furthermore, we are responsible for every injury/death caused by those very same people. Going one step further, we are responsible for every child who falls through the cracks of society. These are often forgotten responsibilities of each person in a democracy. If not forgotten, some people will say “I pay my taxes, that is enough”. Is it?
There is another element which has been slowly eroded. That element is being noted recently as “fake news”. We have an obligation to seek facts that are correct – truth. At this point many will say “well politicians lie all the time anyway so why should we believe anything?” This line of thought is a vicious circle of blame which allows further erosion of truth. We can not stop the lies but we stop those that lie by holding them accountable. However there is also a cliché of Winston Churchill which states “A lie will travel thrice around the world before the truth even gets its pants on”. We are seeing this take place at a greater speed with social media. We must be vigilant in our duties to hold the torch high.
We have a federal election coming up in 2019 and there are forces that will plant “fake news”. This is not new to Canada but we are facing more of the same. For example, the Republic of the United States meddled in the 1962-63 election cylce. Also there was open support of organizations from Russia throughout the 1930's. In reality these efforts have never ceased, we just became numb to the onslaught.
Our task in holding the torch high of building a peaceful society is to work through the misinformation and find the truth. Such is our responsibility to carry if a peaceful society is to flourish. What is comforting though is that the responsibilities we are asked to carry are not such great burdens. We need to be diligent, accurate, peaceful and honest with each other.
We must see that the squeaky wheel should not always get the grease unless we want a nation of complainers. Also, common sense is not rare but rather it is really just bad practice for the most part. The proof is that is we throw away $31 billion dollars in edible food every year. Further evidence of common sense being bad practice is the (common) person spending five minutes circling the parking lot to get a closer spot than the one minute it would take to park in the open spot further away and walk. That same person may spend further money on a gym membership, equipment or just get a pill from the doctor. In a burst of reality it has become common sense to complain loudest, bully your way through to the quickest, cheapest and easiest way possible. This is the onslaught we are facing.
As each soldier who has fought will attest to, there is no substitute for solid planning, excellent communication, hard work and honesty with those you are dealing with. At the very bottom of all that is to take the same path when dealing with your own mind as well. We may not ever get rid of those that will seek to cause harm for no other reason but to cause harm. Yet we owe it to those who “from failing hands throw the torch” to take notice of all our responsibilities as we build a peaceful society.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Diplomacy and North Korea

The world seems to be on a slide towards chaos. With recent leaders of various countries spewing rhetoric and threats, where is the voice of calm resolve? At some point there is a line that breaks through rhetoric and reality shines bright.

That point takes place behind closed doors so that the perceptions of certain leaders save face. Most seasoned politicians understand the difference between speaking to your domestic audience, speaking to the international audience and then there is the diplomatic (face to face) meetings behind closed doors. Why does there have to be and difference in those three situations? In reality there should not be, however, sadly we live in a world where perception is more important than reality. Due to this disjointed mindset we have at least three different platforms of speak.

On the domestic front we have leaders spouting off about how strong they are. Sometimes that carries over to the international sphere as is happening now with North Korea and the Republic of the United States (RUSA). What has not changed is that the diplomatic talks. We know that North Korea has been working the back rooms of diplomacy to get a grip on what RUSA is doing. Whether these efforts are just a way for top officials in North Korea to get out and see the world or if there is true substance is questionable. However there is an effort being made to a small degree of talking things out to calm the waters.

The world has dealt with people such as Trump and Jong-un. We need to pay attention to the rhetoric because it can get out of control which is when war breaks out. In the global context the rhetoric has brought other issues into light. One such event that has taken advantage of the war of words is Taiwan and its separation from China. Due to this impact there are other consequences which may play out that no one is even aware of at the moment. This is why the diplomatic channels are so important.

To make the point of how important the backroom channels are, Pakistan has at least a hundred nuclear weapons and they have been under a leadership which equals Trump. The relations between RUSA and Pakistan were very bad for many years, still are not that good. Really all we have taking place between Trump and Jung-un is an ego clash. These clashes can be and are being tempered by the people in the diplomatic rooms. For example Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister has stated that the war of words between Trump and Jung-un is like two children fighting.

Although peace is easy to understand, to do what is understood and necessary is where the courage fails many of us. It takes greater courage to stand your ground and be peaceful than it is to engage in the fight. We have all seen the person who has to get the last shot in, the last word, the greatest slander or other such action of one-upping the other. Such actions are in reality the cause for greater threats of violence. Everyone agrees that the actions of North Korea are unstable and have been for decades. Why swat the bees nest?

As for each of us, we need to speak and act in terms of peace with those that we are at odds with. We should be pointing out the damages being done and need to be aware of the destruction of our communities. As long as that is followed up immediately with how you are willing to work together to rebuild/improve the community and do it. Such language is taken differently if it were just a shot being taken at the expense of the other.

In closing, we should be concerned about rhetoric as it speaks to an underlying ideology. Since the rhetoric is coming from leadership, this only shows the immaturity of those particular leaders. The professionals that are in place are more than capable of quelling such behaviour in the case of Trump and Jung-un.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Repecting Evil?

Peace is a state of mind. First and foremost, each individual must come to the realization that they are at peace. This state of mind recognizes both their own state of life and the world around them. Now being at peace does not mean you agree with the situation you are in or the state of the world. The state of peace allows you to understand that you will/are doing everything you can to be peaceful in the situation you are in. One of the most difficult ideas to get across to others about peace is that there is conflict in peace. The best way to describe what is meant by conflict exists in peace is to ask a women who has given birth to a child if there was no conflict. However, it is often described that birth as the most beautiful act of human existence. With that concept of peace and conflict aside, we must look at the moment we are in today. Racial tensions have boiled up again across the world. In Canada we have our own history of horrors to reconcile with. Most of us understand that there is a deep need to work together. Being at peace with that work acknowledges we must step into the painful areas of shame, regret, injustice, ignornace and idiocy. As we work together we must understand that the people today are not the people that acted in the past. To that end we need to understand that acknowledging history is not blaming the people of today for those who acted unpeacefully in the past. In truth we are all a product of our collective history. When you can empathize with all sides of history you can see how everyone has been harmed, how everyone needs to reconcile, how everyone needs to endure the hardships of rebuilding relations, how everyone needs to have an open mind of our future together and how to let go of past pains so we can learn, heal and rebuild a stronger society. This is where we are trying to get to in Canada and the world. Being peaceful is having the courage to walk into the discussion of who we are going to be and do so with an open mind. We have always had the capacity to act in this manner. The question that came to a conversation around this topic was - How do you respect evil in a positive manner? To those who are willing to engage is such thought will see the dire need our people are in. Is it good that we are having such hate filled protests? Apparently we need to because some of us have forgotten the horror of past idiocy. As the cliché states, those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it. What this cliché indicates is showing itself with an increase of hate across the globe. Here in Canada we have our own discussion about who we have been, who we are and who we are going to be.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Intergration of us and them

Recalling a moment in life when I was twelve years of age, I had watched a family bring a new born baby from the hospital into their home. I distinctly remember looking around me and wondering why anyone would want to bring a child into this world. The world around me seemed to be a spiralling pool of hate, chaos, greed and no improvement in sight. Not sure how long I carried that thought but at some point I realized that my thought was only a perception. The balance of life equals out all things. Now, as I have worked with many people in very difficult situations, I can see the need to have a solid outlook of being calm, peaceful and patient. The reason for this need is best understood by noticing there are seven billion different ideas about how the world should work. Basically we are all involved in an experiment of integration. Whether or not you notice, acknowledge, understand the fact that we are all in a relationship with each other, we are here at this moment. We have had many experiments that sought to integrate people into systems. Some experiments had horrible outcomes while some had excellent outcomes. These experiments come in the forms of governments, social norms, laws, cultural relativism, policies, religion, political parties, corporations, schools, etc.... At this moment of time there is one of the largest forced movements of people the world has ever seen due to the war in Syria. Some countries have experienced a 25% increase in population due to people trying to get away from the hell of war. This is a major shift in the identity or social norms of any society facing such an increase. Not only does the host country face a dramatic shift, the people who are seeking shelter also face a dramtic shift of reality, culture, identity and sense of belonging. This sense of belonging is a crucial point in terms of integration. A shift of identity is going to take place but what will that be? If no one is willing to accept the new reality on an ideological platform frustration sets in. This frustration will entrench in the minds and hearts of people. After some time the frustration will give way to violence if there is no true willingness to work on building the integration peacefully. Those last four sentences are the simplistic point form frame work of most wars/social break downs we face in the world. In simplistic reality, peace is easily described. The most difficult part is actually doing the work day in and day out with everyone you meet. Being calm, peaceful and patient takes great energy yet, having faith in a peaceful world will provide the energy. As long as you continue to be that person who acts with calm, peacful patience, you will have faith. In the end, what really matters is how each of us – the individual – understands the world, lives their life and strives to be a peaceful person. Throughout my life, as I often looked back at myself when I that twelve year old, I have learned that perceptions are smoke screens to reality. How you truly are is what matters and then understanding your impact on the larger group needs to be acknowledged to some degree as well. This is no simple statement. The complexity of life will and does wrap us up like tangled ball of string. We will be frustrated, tired and need to vent. Sometimes we fail but we also succeed in many other ways.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The 50/50 rule

Sometimes governments and the people take things too far too fast. Again at such moments, we must take a deep breathe and seek to understand the individual efforts true intentions. Plus, we must keep in mind that there will always be those that seek to create chaos just because they can. This is the 50/50 rule. The 50/50 rule stipulates that in perfect balance there is equal parts of both sides. In terms of sanity, in a perfectly balanced world, half of the people are insane and the the other half are not. In this situation, half of the people who are insane are trying to understand the reasoning of the sane and the opposite is true as well. A quick discussion between two such people can bring almost anyone to fits of frustration. Even when two sane people are at odds of reason, frustration can quickly erupt into acts of violence. This is exactly why peace takes greater courage and effort than war. Forging ahead to develop a reality where the cultural components of a multicultural society is valued, respected and treated equally has eluded many individuals as well as most governments, corporations and other instutional structures. There is no shortage of examples of how we have got ourselves into trouble within this realm. We have Rwanda, Bosnia, WWII, Residential schools in Canada and of course the Daesh issues the world has been plagued with recently are examples of how poorly cultural divides have gotten. After each of these episodes of failure/conflict we usually embark on some sort of soul searching to understand how things went so wrong. In the context of post conflict reconstruction there are systems we have tried, such as truth and reconciliation commissions, restorative justice programs, war crime tribunals and the many types of reintegration programs. In other contexts, outside of traditional conflict or war, we have the cultural impacts of sexual identity and affirmative action policies. These seek to build fair opportunities, equality of hiring practices and safe space policies. All of the above efforts are steps being taken to resolve pain caused, correct wrongs, heal wounds, repair broken trust as we work to build a peaceful society. Each step is an experiment that must be tried. Some will fail and some will succeed. The most important component is that efforts are being made to improve. As we continue to embark on the experiments to improve there will be moments when society needs to vent. At the moment when a sector of society needs to vent, the other sectors must be prepared to act with all patience and peace as possible. The same peaceful respect needs to be held by those venting or protesting as well. During these protests we often forget the pendulum of society never stops. The 50/50 even divide at some point will swing to be 75.5 insanity/24.5 sanity or reversed the other way. In our pursuits to build peaceful societies we have to ensure a level of trust to have the difficult discussions - especially when emotions run high and frustration is deep. We must understand that not all experiments will turn out as we want them to. Some efforts are just not able to take hold due to the reality that the people or governments are not ready for certain things. Then there are the efforts that seem to be redundant to some while others see them as necessary. At the root of all these situations rests the complexity of the individual human rights and the responsibility those rights imply upon each of us. Each of us has a right to live without the fear of being harmed. That implies that each of us carries the responsibility to do no harm to another. Now that leads us to examine and understand what harm means to both you and the other. Plus, the 50/50 rule has to be taken into consideration and who determines that? While we forge ahead to build a peaceful society that is true to the reality of a multicultural world, we have learned that the task is one wild trip. Some have no patience for it and lash out into fits of violence. Others are just happy to stir the hornets nest and watch the chaos ensue. For the majority of people they are just trying to get through each day in the same condition they woke up in. Those same people hope to be improved. Then there are those that will improve each day as well as those that will be in worse conditions. Such is life. As each of us forge ahead in our own attempts at peace, it must be clearly understood that every conflict starts in the mind of the individual. To be peaceful is our responsibility to each other. At times we each experience the sanity side of the 50/50 rule as well as the insane side. You may trust yourself but the person that is in the discussion with you may not be in the same mind set. The skill set may have a vast distance as well. Then of course there is always the different versions of historical knowledge that each side will have. The piece to really grab onto is that most reason is only valid to those who agree with it. So, if one part of the argument is a firm believer in "outside the box thinking" that person must let go of common sense and reasoning to break down barriers or be insane. Finally, the 50/50 rule can help break your own thought patterns as everyone seeks to build a peaceful society.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Broken trust and peace

Do you recall this person – Mohammed Bouazizi? He was a 26 year old vendor that literally sparked what is known as the Arab Spring. Of course there are many theories of why he lit himself on fire. However the complete frustration, loss of hope, poverty, oppression and injustice he felt is very important for each of us to battle as well. It is imperative to understand then conquer the personal mental battle first and always act peacefully socially with everyone else. What is ironic is that a root ideology of Al Qaeda was to end oppression. That ideology morphed into groups such as Al Shabaab (youth movement) and Daesh. The level of violence and absolute disregard for any flexibility of thought has put a strangle hold on the world. Again, the irony is that those groups are acting out due to a deep frustration that something is broken. Now we are dealing with people spreading fear and panic anywhere they can to ease a personal battle of frustration. It is these acts of violence seeking to draw even in the tally of pain which set larger ripples of hate and distrust in motion. It is the ripple effect of distrust which fuels further hate, then eventually can and does lead to violence. In simplistic ideology that is the formula of understanding groups such as Daesh. As you put your head in your hands and seek some sort of sanity within all of this we have other shots to the public trust. How in the name of all that is peaceful do you keep calm when corporation sell us on trust. Then, those corporation take actions that destroy trust. These actions spread into the distrust of government and filters down to distrust of each individual. On the corporate side of understanding actions which destroy trust are explained in two words – greed and influence. With groups like Daesh, the world responds out of necessity. For many nations, military action was not a choice to drop bombs or shoot people. However, we have a responsibility to protect. With that it is understood that each person shot or area bombed we are destroying the person who fires the bullet or drops the bombs as well. This is the circle of hell we must live with when killing others is needed. It can not be put anymore clear that the small acts of kindness are the equivalent of bullets. Community gatherings of celebration are like the bombs of war. These are the acts which will ultimately defeat groups such as Daesh. Such community building initiatives are the front lines in securing peaceful societies. Apparently we need more of these acts as individuals are spreading hate such as we have seen in London England. Each of us feels the frustrations of those who act violently and those corporations that are destroying public trust. It is truly hurtful to have to act on those who willfully break the public peace. It is not a choice but a responsibility to act in order to restore peace. That begins within each of us to act peacefully with our own minds. To quell the hate in our own minds first and then branch out is the individual battle of peace. When you lash out in frustration, the war has been lost already.

Friday, May 19, 2017

France looks past the hatred.

There was a time, not long ago, when the world was speaking out against multicultural societies. The popular thought was that multiculturalism was a failed policy. Then comes the vote of the United Kingdom to exit the European Union, Donald Trump gets elected in the RUSA and France looks at voting for similar protectionist ideology. Last night France voted for a multicultural ideology. France voted for a reality that reflects the truth of the world. The world is multicultural. The world is open and free movement across the globe is a right of every individual. Of course an open society will open the world to more experiences that may not be wanted. The best method to ensure a safe society is to build and maintain strong communities. This responsibility rests with the individual to take up. Governments are a macro level entity and violence starts within the minds of the individual. That is why an open ideology needs to be supported by individuals as well as governments. For example, we can look at Daesh and their play book management of savagery (the book is easily found on the internet). It is an example of how individuals can impact global security from within communities for either good or evil. The same playbook can be used for good, the difference will be a peaceful mindset for the immediate result. As we look at the reasons for the protectionist versus the open society there are valid points for either side. In other terms we have hawks versus doves, hard power versus soft power, peace versus war and other axioms. The reason violence seems to be the more effective choice is due to the immediate impact/response and drama of tragedy. A peace strategy is very much like a person growing up, one day you are 5 years old and then almost dream like you are 34. You wonder where the years went. It all seems effortless yet we forget the daily attention that must be paid to ensure we live a peaceful life. The daily efforts that are small must be made and are unnoticed by the larger community is the path to peace. War, violence, hatred and evil on the other hand are large and can be launched in a single moment to impact many years into the future. Due to that, it is easy to understand why a protectionist attitude is prevalent. As the people of France stood up, the rest of the world needs to thank the people of France for standing up for an open society in the face of what they have endured. That is true courage and a steadfast belief in the reality of the world – multiculturalism, peace and openess.