Create Peace

Saturday 07 June 2003 at 12:03

I opposed war with Iraq. But it is not enough to oppose war. I think opposition served the hawks' agenda more than the doves'.

Unfortunately, war is very hard to ignore. My time could have been much better spent contributing something to the world. But my conscience compelled me to present alternatives and to challenge the rhetoric that rationalized violence. The catch-22 pulled me into a struggle that reinforced the underlying conflict that ultimately led to war.

Rather than opposing war, how can I create peace?

The creation of war and of peace depend on network effects. War is an emergent phenominon which depends on rampant spread of fear. For example, war with Iraq was only possible once we US citizens were more afraid of a wicked dictator and weapons of mass destruction than we were of loosing the lives of our loved ones and neighbors in an armed conflict. That required an epidemic of fear. Epidemics are emergent phenomina.

Peace is also an emergent phenominon. For peace to emerge in the world, the fear that feeds war must be released rather than fed. In essence we lack an effective antivirus for the fear. This is precisely why opposing war alone is ineffective. In our opposition, we doves fed the same fears contributing to the emergence of war.

I should define peace. Briefly, peace is non-violence. Conflict is acceptable. Loud, contentious disagreement is acceptable. Violence is not acceptable, not even as a last resort. In family conflicts, in bar room arguments, in city, state, and regional disputes, and in international conflicts violence should never be an option.

I don't want to be a cheerleader for Utopia. I want to create peace here on Earth. But so many before have failed, including Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many others. Is peace impossible? Can a violent world leave violence behind? Why should a new effort to create peace in the world succeed now when so many great people have failed before?

First there's the 'Net. Never before has there been a medium with so much power to spread the power of knowledge and understanding and so much power to coordinate the actions of so many people.

Then there's the necessity? Technology of various sorts has made the destructive power of a small group of people enormously disproportionate to their size. Consider the awesome economic effects of terror clearly demonstrated on 9/11/2001. For the price of some box cutters and flight training the US economy has been devastated. (Sure we were already struggling, but 9/11 hammered us.) Similarly with computer viruses, a few miscreants can cost businesses tens of millions of dollars. The power of individuals and small groups is radically disproportionate to their size. We as a species need to figure out how to coexist constructively as never before in history.

How?

As war depends on an epidemic of fear, creating peace calls for an anti-virus to inoculate the population against fear.

The metaphor of inoculation is suggestive. Inoculations must happen one person at a time. One mind at a time must be strengthened against fear individually. Peace will emerge once a tipping point is reached in the population.