Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

I attended a panel discussion recently on this topic and noted an appeal for ideas to deal with the issue. I was struck by the universality of inspirational comments, the language of terrorism or enemies, and the almost reflex response of dealing with risk, radicalization or violence from the perspective of “identification and response”, in punitive or treatment approaches, “appeals to behaviour” regarding religious tenants or values, or community obligations. For all the good words, I felt more concern than hope in the room. There is a saying; “you cannot drink the word water.” In this regard, I felt a need for something practical to emerge.

I view language as critical here. In my view there needs to be more awareness of Rosenberg’s theory of Non violent communication. Labelling people as enemies, terrorists or violent extremists is, in a sense, an act of creation that leads us down a path to violence and war, with an implicit licence to invoke lethal force. This means more military, more weapons, more suffering and more collateral damage. That said I do agree that many struggle to find peaceful solutions.   Surely we can do better.

There is another saying; “those who would kill; know that harming others will not bring an end to your suffering.” Perhaps this is an interesting way to view those who choose violence, as also victims of suffering.   It was agreed that causes of such behaviour were everything from numerous, to incredibly complex,  to completely unknown.   However, it can be known that suffering and impermanence exists for us all, the question may become one of how we can all deal with suffering in our lives.

So what is practical in this reality? To start perhaps we need a better balance between controlling wrongdoing and building peace. This means appreciating the difference between positive and negative peace. This means a keen awareness of mimetic structures at play. Mimetic structures are how we pass on cultures of peace or cultures of violence. People have a predisposition to mimic their cultural or family values and beliefs in order to belong or survive.

What is practical in building communities of peace? Perhaps we need an approach of the “whole person” and “whole of community.” Perhaps we need an understanding that one can only build peace, by beginning with “peace within”, before expecting to create “peace between” others in our communities.

This opens many doors. The door to building life practices in people, that seeks to cultivate a “mind of peace”, inner peace, equanimity, mindfulness, presence; and practices and techniques for the understanding of, and dealing with, suffering and trauma in its impermanence and pain, in all the roots of conditions or causes that are not-self.

Also there is the door to building community practices. This may involve training all (children, youth men, women, elders) in the basics of building peace, such as non violent communication, conflict resolution, reconciliation and closure, ethics and ethical decision making, good values, and living well in the company of each other. At a higher level building good governance, human security, economic viability and social needs such as health, education, wellbeing.

Also there is the door to building a group of peace practitioners in the community, especially in the youth. Peace practitioners that lead by example, with capacities around principles of being presence in arising conflict or issues, impartiality, advocating human rights, and have communication or dialogue skills. This may give youth alternatives to conflict through building positive purpose and meaning. Youth with peace building skills, non violent social activism, a voice, and participation in governance can be a powerful contributor to community wellbeing. Training and certifying peace practitioners is easy, and may begin with a “peace within” focus followed by skills education and experience.

So are we in the business of countering violent extremism or building communities of peace, or both? Which has priority? Perhaps the saying “I am one and only one; but will not refuse to do what one can do” has merit. We need small but visionary steps. Good luck to us all.


The sanctions relief regime has begun.

According to the Transparency International 2014 corruption perceptions index, Iran ranks: 136 /175. This is worse than most other countries, and worse than such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Rwanda, Tanzania, or Pakistan. This is not a standing in the global community conducive to good international business and trust; and not how Iran wishes to be regarded by the global business sector.

Like many other countries in the mid east, the words of Clausewitz, “ war is simply an extension of politics by other means”, is a constant barrier to peace. Given the size and education of its people, its wealth, its influence, this is both an opportunity and question for Iran. Does Iran wish to be a force for peace, stability and human rights in the Mid East? This is a tough question for them, and a long road in which actions will ultimately judge Iran, and all of us for that matter.

So what about tomorrow? An Iran, if willing to act in good faith, may elect to seek to explore issues with allies and prospective business partners regarding the peaceful honest economic development and global economic participation of Iran following sanctions relief.

Tomorrow Canada can choose to exercise leadership. We, with Iran and the global community can explore and encourage principled non-military economic trade and development that can contribute to international peace, stability and reconciliation.

We, with Iran, can explore current business and government best practices that enhance ethics and the reduce corruption.

Canada can lift sanctions accordingly and promote trade. We can contribute to peace through a view that “civilized people talk”. We can re-establish consular relations and engage in peace oriented diplomacy.

There are always possibilities for peace and better relations. It is hard work, but always worth the risks. Talk to your elected MP and let them know your views.  Good luck to all of us.