Capacity Development for Peace Building in Post-Conflict Societies
January 24, 2007
by Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
President, International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
Since the patriarchal society took over some six to eight thousand years ago, the culture of peace has been replaced with the culture of war. From excavations we find that in the matriarchal times the world was characterized by true love, dedicated care, and genuine respect. People hugged each other and offered assistance to each other. This is due to the fact that women, by their very nature tend to rule from the heart, which is the seat of love and compassion.
Initiation of the Culture of War
Once the world community became patriarchal, things changed radically. Love was replaced by hatred and revenge while care for one’s neighbors was changed into neglect. In the matriarchal society human conflicts were solved through dialogue, understanding and compassion. By way of contrast, under the patriarchy, human conflicts were solved through atrocious wars. This is due to the fact that men, by their nature, rule from the mind, which is suspicious. This explains the needless suffering that was inflicted on millions of innocent people.
Needless to say, each time a conflict comes to an end we witness the great misery that it leaves behind. This is observed in the destruction of the infrastructure of cities and entire nations and in the massacre of tens of thousands of people that include women, children, the elderly and the sick. Besides, many are maimed for life with arms and legs amputated, with badly disfigured faces and blindness along with numerous suicides that were committed as a result because of the unbearable burden of such victims.
For those who managed to survive in a newly created environment that is characterized by the scourges of war, they seem to have no other choice except to start to live their life over again. Of course, for many this new life would never be the same since they will mourn constantly the loss of their dear and beloved ones that may include parents, spouses, children, relatives and friends. But following each war, there seems to be a period of calmness that comes partly from the vacuum of life that was brought about by such heinous events.
Under the circumstance, we need to look forward with hope and perseverance. We need to develop a capacity for peace building in such post-conflict events, in communities or societies that were hit by the implementation of the culture of war among them. Usually, those that were responsible for such tragic consequences take the initiative to exploit the misery they created for their personal financial gain. This is not hard to realize and understand. It may be illustrated very well by pinpointing some of these sources.
Trinity of Evil at Work
If we examine every recent conflict carefully that stems especially from the developed nations we will discover how three of the most lucrative businesses in the world work together. They may be enlisted as the weapons industry, the construction companies, and the oil enterprises. The weapons industry, through the institution of the military, proceeds to destroy the infrastructure of a nation. Then construction companies step in to rebuild what the weapons industry has destroyed. And finally, the oil enterprises step in to confiscate the oil where it is found or the valuable natural resources of the besieged nations.
Although in theory the capacity development for peace building in post-conflict nations or societies seems to be logical, in practice things are different. Let us illustrate this by example. The institution of the military, over the last 6,000 years of recorded history, has always served for negative and destructive purposes. Hence, its very existence assures the continuation of the culture of war, that is, of constantly resorting to war to solve human conflicts or problems. The presence of the military has always a negative and destructive connotation.
The military may be viewed as the most dangerous element that ever existed in the history of the entire world. In fact, it is the only institution that can disregard all kind of laws without being penalized afterwards. It constantly violates the divine positive law, which is commonly known as the Ten Commandments. It disregards the natural law as the manufacture of weapons does emit in the atmosphere tons of toxic wastes that, in the United States alone, has caused cancer to some two million people a year.
Besides, it violates ecclesiastical laws as revealed in its destruction of churches, synagogues and temples and the disregard for any spiritual directives of all the major religions. And finally, the military also is immune from the observation of any civic law whatsoever. For example, the United States and the European Union have been adamant in their opposition to illegal immigrants, that is, people who enter a country without proper documents revealed in lack of passports and visas.
Yet, the governments of such countries do not observe any civic law when it comes to the military. When the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, the soldiers sent there did not have any passports and visas to present prior to their entry. Similarly, when NATO invaded Kosovo the soldiers sent their just entered the country, like illegal immigrants do, with no passports and no visas to show to legitimate national authorities! So, in view of what has been stated, we may now proceed to explore how we can demonstrate a capacity for constructive development for peace building in post-conflict nations.
Importance of Demilitarization
A rapid glance through history demonstrates that the nations that had concentrated on military build up always abounded with surmountable problems. Their people were conspicuously neglected in many ways. A substantial number of them live in abject poverty and they have no adequate housing facilities. Those who cannot afford to pay find it difficult to have appropriate nourishment and to take good care of their health. Besides, the education becomes affordable only to those who still have financial means. In addition, most nations that rely on the military for their survival and to get anything they want by all means tend to make mockery of democracy and to curtail the people’s freedom of movement considerably.
These are violations of human rights. Ironically, such nations talk often of the importance to promote democracy and freedom everywhere! In spite of this, we can always do something positive and constructive. In the first place, we need to either abolish the military or to reduce it to merely a token. This way, all the money that would have been wasted on this lawless institution that is virtually accountable to no one, will be shifted to the needs of the people. Each time this approach was implemented there was always witnessed a positive and constructive result. For example, Costa Rica at one time relied heavily on the military. There was a coup after coup.
The people were poor and the majority of them were illiterate. Almost one half of the population was homeless. Also, Costa Rica had the highest mortality rate of children in both North and South America. More than half century ago, one military general took over the nation by coup and soon announced that the people of Costa Rica would never again see war in their country. He abolished the military and all of its money passed to the dire needs of the people. Today, Costa Rica is a literate nation. All people have a home where they could live and raise a decent family. Besides, education is free from the cradle to the grave and all people live a noticeably healthy life. In addition, the child mortality rate is the lowest, along with Cuba, in all the nations of North and South America.
To promote peace building in post-conflict society we need to put top priority on the welfare of the people who always remain the most important element of a nation. In fact, the strength of a nation could be measured accurately by the kind of education, health care and adequate housing facilities the people enjoy. In his farewell speech to the US Congress, President Eisenhower remarked: “Remember, every dollar spent on weapons and wars is a theft from the hungry and the poor.” Unfortunately, very few heeded to his warning.
Role of Non Governmental Organizations
We need to rely heavily on volunteer type of organizations. The presence of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) ought not to be taken lightly. In fact, many believe that had it not been for the NGOs the United Nations would have ceased to exist long time ago, following the footsteps of the League of Nations before it. Such volunteers could come from every walk of life and profession. Nowadays, we do have physicians who offer their services in any global area where they are needed at least for an average of one month a year. We also have lawyers who try to defend the helpless from governmental abuse.
Many volunteer to work as nurses, social workers, and teachers at all levels of education, while others volunteer to equip hospitals and schools with modern technology that would include computers. Philanthropists have also been doing a good job in this direction in an effort to develop peaceful societies following the ravages of war that had been experienced. The well known philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife are spending countless millions of dollars to help alleviate the lives of people in Africa of war-torn nations.
At the same time, Oprah Winfrey is spending millions of dollars in Southern Africa to help women become more involved in politics. Women remain the only hope to bring about world peace. They need to replace men in government once more and hasten the return of the matriarchal society. Of course, what makes a real woman is not the physical structure of her body but the capacity to do things from the heart which is full of love and compassion. Without such a vital quality women will be like men trapped in woman’s body.
This means that if men were to rule from the heart and not from the mind, they become an integral part of a peaceful matriarchal society. They will be like women trapped in man’s body. The list of politicians that have revealed matriarchal qualities with an ability to bring genuine peace to everyone is fortunately substantial. Just to quote a few instances, we have Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu of South Africa along with Oscar Arias of Costa Rica in addition to former US presidential candidates Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton.
We also witnessed outstanding men revealing matriarchal qualities of love and compassion with an ability to promote peace as observed in Pope John II and the Dalai Lama. The list of men with matriarchal qualities goes on and on. But the vast majority of men reveal to be strictly patriarchal where they identify the security of a nation with a devastating military! These are men who are saturated with suspicion and they feel the urge to use violence to control the outcome of possible violence. These politicians tend to feel fearful and insecure and try to hide these negative qualities through machismo. They try to show that they are tough when in fact they prove to be blind and stubborn.
Exposition of Military Deception
Moreover, such politicians constantly mislead the people by referring to the waging of wars as means of “national defense and security.” We learn from history that what comes around goes around, that violence begets violence and more violence begets more violence. What may be curious lies here. Each time we visit charitable institutions whose job is to provide people with the necessities of life we are always greeted nicely. We sense friendship, mutual trust, love and respect. However, when we visit military institutions we are stopped by military guards armed heavily with machine guns. We sense suspicion, something wrong in the whole set up of this atmosphere. We witness the culture of war that is meant to destroy the infrastructure of society brutally and wipe out human life.
Ascetical writers tell us that when we are about to leave this earthly planet we have a vision of all the actions were performed in our life time. We see all the good we did and we feel consoled and proud of ourselves. We also see the bad we did and the endless harm we might have caused to others. And at that moment we wish we could reverse the clock of history to avoid the evil we performed. But then we realize that we cannot reverse the clock of history. However, the same ascetical writers tell us that through prevention we may act like having reversed the clock of history.
This means each time we are about to perform an action we should evaluate the good versus the evil that could possibly come after. If such actions would be in the best interest of all people without exception then we should proceed to perform them. Otherwise, we should avoid them regardless of how strong our urge may be to opt for devastation and the infliction of enormous pain. The same ascetical writers assure us that if we were to view all people as beloved children of God and if we were to genuinely love God as our father and creator we would never dream even remotely to pursue the route to war again. This would require a sound education that would create a new generation that is fully entrenched in the culture of peace.
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