The road to peace has been mapped out for humanity by some of its forerunners. For example, historically, the Buddha indicated one possible road to peace through the eight-fold path of right view, right thinking, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right diligence, right mindfulness and right concentration. These principals have stood the test of time and are as valid today as they were 2000 years ago.
Active individual participation in the promotion of social justice and political decision-making, without the use of violence, in a spirit of tolerance and goodwill, was strongly advocated by Gandhi in the 1900s. He promoted such important concepts as:
- Ahimsa – non-injury through the renunciation of physical and mental violence against one’s self, others, animals and nature;
- Advaita – the interconnectivity of all life forms;
- Tapasya – the willingness to suffer rather than inflict pain on others;
- Sarvodaya – everyone’s basis needs must be met even if that means that some people must give something up so that others are not left out;
- Satyagraha – the pursuit of Truth through non-violent action.
A modern-day approach to responsible and peaceful human relations can be seen in Marshall Rosenberg’s system of Non-violent Communication. This method recognises the interconnectivity of Life and the common human condition, and emphasises the importance of the appropriate use of language in the transformation of conflict. Rosenberg encourages men and women to connect compassionately with themselves and with others in order to resolve differences peacefully and constructively.
The three above-mentioned examples of roads to peace have in common the fact that, as well as dynamic action, they also promote the importance of inner reflection. This inner reflection on the part of the individual or group (state, nation, community, religion, etc.) can unveil underlying unconscious prejudices, or misplaced preconceptions, which might be fuelling the conflicts manifesting on the surface. Carl Jung made an important contribution to research in this area through his work on projections, that is, people’s propensity to see in others what needs healing in themselves. Jung discovered that when people make a criticism or judgement, they are often unconsciously seeing their own faults mirrored in the other party. This provides an interesting angle from which to consider the concept of a common human identity and the interconnectivity of Life. It also highlights the importance of self-awareness and individual responsibility in the realisation of peaceful human relations. A greater degree of self-awareness could unveil to a person the spectacles through which he/she is looking at the world, that is, the particular influence that cultural background, experiences in life and individual personality traits are having on his/her perception of events.
Extract from my MA thesis entitled: A Shared Human Identity – the Foundation of a Peace Culture
Photos: c/o Cbill and geralt, respectively, on Pixabay