The Problem: Government policy and culture is tilted toward protecting turf, building an empire, doing battle and making war. The activities and psychology of mediation and peacebuilding are missing from government policies and decisions.
The Bigger Mess: Violence and conflict seem out of control. We see before us domestic violence, school bullying, cyber attacks,sexual assaults, communities in conflict with law enforcement, political parties attacking each other rather than solving shared problems and brutal, horrific warfare around the world. Where are the comprehensive, whole of government strategies to deal with these circumstances?
The Big Idea: Comprehensive, whole of government strategies to address violence and conflict at all levels of human interaction include both the activities of peacebuilding and the psychology of peacemaking. Yes, some people have crossed a dark line and are truly, irrevocably dangerous; so yes there are times when we put people in prison or help our international partners who are dropping bombs on terrorists. Still I believe that truly solving social conflict must always include face to face dialog and shared projects that improve communities - in sum the activities of peacebuilding and a recognition of the psychology of peacemaking.
Peacebuilding is the full range of activities that solves problems and reduces violence. Activities may include ceasefires, peace talks, a gang truce, treaty negotiations or peer mediation in schools. Peacemaking is personal. Peacemaking is a change of mind or a change of heart, a sudden new awareness that recognizes the perspective of others, a decision to do things differently. I believe in the power and potential of face to face dialog. My theory of peacemaking: People joined together in face to face dialog generate a field of energy that taps patterns of balance and rhythms of harmony across multiple levels of awareness.
- Develop comprehensive, whole of government strategies for conflict situations around the world that include military, diplomatic, economic, educational, community development and face to face communication.
- Develop comparable, whole of government strategies for conflict situations here at home.
- Require the U.S. Institute of Peace to train and deploy mediators and peacebuilders within the United States when needed including for communities in conflict.
Learn from the experts: Ambassador John W. McDonald, retired after 40 years with the U. S. Department of State and co-founder of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD), considers conflict resolution from a systems perspective where community dialogs about ways to reduce violence occur along with official negotiations. From this point of view, new business opportunities in conflict zones as well as shared art, music and sports programs also play a role bringing people on opposite sides of a conflict together to improve relationships.