Foundations of peace

We have many very different ways of looking at the world. As a result, we all mean very different things by peace and peacemaking.

In this website I hope to adopt a radical notion of peace, where we not only stop warring against each other, nature, and the world around us, but where each one of us also makes peace with ourselves. This peace necessarily encompasses a fundamental reordering of all our relations.

In some sense, this is a deliberate rewinding of the clock, a reversing of the philosophical and physical fragmentations that can be traced back to the seventeenth century Enlightenment and the industrial revolutions that followed.

In another sense, it is a leap into the dark, to explore where starting afresh might take us – to sidestep the black and white, materialistic thinking that so fragments our vision and hampers our freedoms. This is the time to try out new shoes.

I hope you will join me on this journey in seeking to envision a reconnected and restored world.

“Peace is only possible when one of the warring sides takes the first step, the hazardous initiative, the risk of opening up dialogue, and decides to make the gesture that will lead not only to an armistice but to peace.” – Jaques Derrida

Radical nonviolence

If all human life is sacred, then you don’t kill. It really is that simple – no wars, no drive-by shootings, no executions.

But there is more to nonviolence that merely not killing. If we are called to gentleness – a most demanding vocation that requires constant practice – then physical violence represents the tip of an iceberg.

Beneath the surface their lies the other 90% of human aggression. This starts within us, with our upbringing, our inner conflicts, are lack of integration. But this is only one start. It also originates in out culture, in the glorification of violence in our television programmes and our movies, the stories we read and tell, the language we use.

Our language reveals where our orientation is. By glorifying “military discipline,” “strategic intent,” or in giving a “broadside” or “a shot across the bows” we say much about who we are. We also tell others how we are shaped by “playing hardball” or talking of “collateral damage” and “fallout” – and a thousand more such words and phrases.

Words are a barometer of how we see the world. None of us can escape our – culture but we can all ask questions. We can choose not to comply, to use different words, to see things differently and to live anew. This is the essence of freedom.

Different words form different images. And different images can lead to different impulses and changed actions.

Then, just maybe, when we are all collectively committed to different actions, we can can create very different institutions, ones that do not commit violence against the individual, other groups, or other societies. That really would be a very different culture.

I think you would find that if you lived in that new culture, much more than human life would be seen as sacred. People would start to believe that there is room for all life on this planet. Eliminating other life through carelessness, greed or selfishness would be unacceptable.

Then, like any number of indigenous peoples, we might relearn our place in the world and come to see even the trees as sacred.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.* Isaiah 11:6

* The imagery in Isaiah is clearly poetic. This is not meant as a prescription of how we might live in peace but gives a sense of how very different the world will be and feel when we do. This imagery juxtaposes the unexpected.

Having said that it should not be taken literally, on the other hand, please do take a look at this footage from the BBC TV series “Earth’s Great Rivers”:

The world is a lot more mysterious than we like to think.