Peace is Possible

Contradictions exist in everything and contribute to constant fluctuations in our lives. The presence of these contradictions is not decisive, but what is decisive is how we address these contradictions. These contradicting conditions make the question of a shared humanity crucial to the issue of just peace, and at the heart of this question is whether a people can freely exercise its rights to determine the course of its own future. 

The question of peace is in essence directly related to the idea of a shared humanity, for no peace would be possible to sustain or even arrive at if it does not lead to a condition of a shared humanity. In other words, it does not limit peace as mere absence of war and violence, but it constructs peace as a dynamic and interdependent existential reality in which people live with dignity; and can freely determine and exercise their freedom. A shared humanity is constantly conscious and engaged with the process of defining and building the future.

The existing dominant paradigms of peace has been obsessed with the ‘other’ and the more walls that it builds; the more it will have to tear down, when it finally realizes that all of humanity actually needs each other. The monotheism of force has been at the center of state response to conflicting interests and historical experiences show that this lack of critical imagination and the arrogance of power perpetuates the assumption that the hammer is the only means available to deal with people who disagree with you. 

Hence the endeavor to find out-of-the-box solutions to conflict is not about who the ‘others’ are, it really is about we are and how we respond to issues of injustice. How we address injustice (of all forms) is decisive to whether we can build a peaceful world. By injustice it primarily implies state and structural violence and subsequently all other forms of violence that prevents the fullness of a dignified humanity.  

To make peace a living reality, we must without a doubt recognize that it is impossible and undesirable to ‘eliminate the other.’ If our response to conflict is more violence, than in the final analysis, we would end up being no better, possibly even worse. We must explore and create value-based approaches to address conflicting interests in more creative, imaginative and peaceful ways, in which the use of force has no role. 

I would like to envision a few decades ahead from where we are today, to a time when humans would have already realized a shared humanity, and then from there work ourselves to the present and in the process try and identify what it would mean and demand of us to achieve a shared humanity, which stems from the idea that the security and well-being of any one community, nation or people is connected and interdependent with the well being of others, requiring mutual respect, understanding, cooperation, and investment in our mutual destiny. At such a time as this we need to critically reflect on the direction that we find ourselves moving. This period of human crisis should be a time for us to engage in self-criticism and to truthfully examine our present status and find concrete ways in which we can transcend the present and move to the future. The key is to develop a capacity to see and think strategically.

For us to realize a shared humanity, it is essential that the virtues of a prophetic imagination are at the forefront of a paradigm shift, which demands a shift from the culture of power, to the power of culture. The power of culture demonstrates a culture which is constantly in the making of a dignified people through critical imagination. The synergy created through this interplay empowers us into a process of exercising our self-determining capabilities. 

Peace is possible, when we are committed to listening and reasoning together with clarity and foresight. Through honest dialogue we can explore together new and respectful approaches to address conflicting interests in more creative, imaginative and peaceful ways. Peace becomes meaningful when we are able to overcome the core issues of conflict, and not by avoiding them. By transforming injustice to justice, peace is possible. 

We must be persuaded to move beyond what exists while still living in it, not become immobilized by it. To create what does not exist is to recognize that we are part of a complex web of relationships, including those with whom we differ; and because of this web of relation and to ensure our own humanity, it is first critical that the humanity of those with whom we differ are first secured. What happens in society’s margins is after all a reflection on the larger society; therefore, security of the most marginalized represents security of all. Our freedoms and our dignity are indeed tied with each other. 

It is through honest dialogue that we transcend insecurity and the fears of uncertainty. Central to this dialogue is the need for us to evolve ways to address our respective and shared burdens of history. This dialogue will facilitate the interplay between Resolution, Reconciliation and Reconstruction. These three processes are intertwined with one another, and each one on their own is limited though together contribute to the dynamic of transformation. 

While it is true that these three processes share a dialectical relationship, it lies in the wisdom of a people to make it live in a real and meaningful manner. The avoidance of any of these processes would prevent the holistic healing of a nation. This demands a shift from a monologue to a dialogue which results in the understanding and acceptance of differences and represents a process of creation which focuses on elevating our purposefulness to embody human dignity and human worth.