Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

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.

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It is time to try something different.  Military forces can be seen as a study in cultural rigidity. In a military conference I attended this year, a session on encountering child soldiers, trauma, PTSD and moral injury, the response alluded to ”mental health briefings” as a solution to what may lead to depression or suicide. In a strong warrior culture with the suicide rates being what they are (20 per day in the US among military veterans) belies the effectiveness of briefings. “Killing is killing” and anyone doing so, for just cause or not, encounters a traumatic event. The only question is – will they then be traumatized? This is part of what I am trying to address as a peace professional in first nations work and in a current peace and reconciliation project in the Tamils and Sinhalese diaspora, who have severe trauma issues and a child soldier problem.

There is a saying regarding all this, “one cannot drink the word water”. One does not create strong soldiers by talking about push-ups. One needs to exercise and go running every day. The same can be said for mental or trauma resiliency. Briefings are insufficient without strong military life practices. This means adding or changing certain military service practices and their acceptance in military culture. This would take courage because such practices in some ways may run counterculture to a warrior ethos that is not well suited to real independent and critical thinking and living values that are necessary for wellbeing, such as compassion, inner peace and equanimity. A rebalancing of military culture that blends mental health and resiliency with military ethics certainly begins with serious thinking about “military meaning and purpose” in war and conflict. If the trauma issue is to be seriously addressed, military culture should evolve to include continuous practices of wellbeing, mindfulness, breath practices, presence, and meditation. Military culture must understand the nature of suffering and trauma from the perspective of impermanence and that there are alternatives to victimization and depression. Mental wellbeing and causing harm or violence have a fundamental incompatibility. This is a significant and maybe an impossible challenge in a military culture. Good luck to us, or the consequences will be just more suicides and trauma.

 

FROM OUR FIRST NATIONS

May the seven grandfather teachings guide us in our work today …

We will honor the seven grandfather teachings. Each person is on a life’s journey and must find the balance that lies in living in harmony with all creation. 

  1. Wisdom:  To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom.
  2. Love:      To know love is to know peace.
  3. Respect:      To honor all creations is to have respect.
  4. Bravery:      Bravery is to face adversity with integrity.
  5. Honesty:      Honesty in facing a situation is to be honorable.
  6. Humility:  To know yourself as a sacred part of      creation.
  7. Truth:  Truth is to know all of these things. To      speak it. To live by it. 
  • To the benefit of all people, may we be strong and committed to these words today. 

FROM THE DIVERSITY OF OUR NATIONAL VALUES AND ETHICS  

May our shared values guide us in our work lives today. 

  1. May we put the values of honesty and integrity foremost in our conduct today
  2. May we put compassion and respect for others foremost in our relationships today.
  3. May we be committed to our responsibilities and strengthen the reputation of our good name.
  4. May our relationships with stakeholders be lawful, fair, courteous and free from conflict of interest.
  5. May we respect our obligations for social responsibility involving integrity in governance, environmental responsibility, economic sustainability and benefit to the society and the communities we live in.
  6. To the benefit of our livelihood, ourselves and our relationships, may we commit to these values today.  

FROM THE HUMANITARIAN VALUES AND ETHICS OF THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY  

May the wisdom of our highest values guide us in the work we do today. 

  1. May we commit to non-violence and the respect of the human rights and dignity of others.
  2. May we put aside our fixed views and seek to understand the needs and views of others.
  3. May we put the relief of suffering foremost in our decision making and agreements.
  4. May we put the reduction of conflict foremost in our decision making and agreements.
  5. May we put the avoidance of harming others foremost in our decision making and agreements.
  6. May we put the welfare of our grandchildren foremost in our decision making and agreements.
  7. May we not refuse to do the good that we can do.
  8. In the cause of peace, may we be resolute and committed to these words today.

 In peace

Paul Maillet

Former Military Officer Urges Stronger Canadian Stance at the 2102 Arms Trade Treaty Diplomatic Conference

 Dear Mr Prime Minister;

In reading the opening  “STATEMENT BY CANADA AT THE OPENING OF THE ARMS TRADE TREATY DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE. JULY 2012”. I noted the Canadian delegation made the following statements:

Quote:  it is also important that the All recognize the legitimacy of the legal and responsible international trade in conventional weapons and that it respects the lawful ownership of firearms by responsible private citizens for personal and recreational uses, such as sport shooting, hunting and collecting.

 And

 Quote:  Canada stresses the importance of the principle of national discretion and that the ATT should recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their personal and recreational use, including sport shooting, hunting and collecting. We stress that this should in no way result in any new burdens being placed on lawful firearms owners.

As a former military professional with 33 years service, and the former Director of DND Ethics, I am extremely discouraged and disheartened  that we are attempting to water down this treaty, to the point that we will be directly complicit in the deaths of many people.  The people of Canada expect our government to exercise world leadership on conflict reduction and that such leadership be guided by an uncompromising stance on humanitarian values. We should be at this treaty negotiation with a view to making it as strong as possible.

Surely, the legitimate arms manufacturers, gun owners and the NRA would be willing to put up with some inconvenience when people, human beings, are suffering and dying every minute somewhere in the world from small arms. To imply that gunshot victims have less priority than “no new burdens on lawful firearm owners” is absolutely unbelievable.    I am truly ashamed of what Canada has become as a global citizen, when we attempt to put the arms trade in any form before human lives.

As a military professional, I can tell you that the most lethal weapons in use today, which causes the most killing every day, are small arms.  There should be no measures we should not be prepared take to reduce the human carnage every day caused by small arms.

I am sure you know that almost every weapons seizure from criminal, terrorist, insurgent, or drug trafficking elements contain non-military pattern weapons.  They use whatever they can get, no exceptions.  In the photo below, you can see that the entire back row of weapons of non-military pattern weapons would be exempt from this treaty.  This is beyond irresponsible.  I can assure you that criminals and terrorists simply want weapons, any weapons, that kill, and especially those that can be obtained legally or are unregulated to any extent.  The Canadian proposal creates a huge loophole to do this.  This is beyond belief.  This will spawn a surge and unregulated traffic in non-military pattern weapons that we will not be able to control.

Mr Prime Minister, this is an issue of human lives and human values.  I implore you to issue direction to your delegation to withdraw and strongly oppose any but the strongest restrictions on the global arms trade.  This is for the sake of we are as Canadians and as responsible human beings in a global community.

In the cause of peace

Paul Maillet

Colonel (retired)

President PAUL MAILLET CENTER FOR ETHICS
Web: http://paulmailletethics.wordpress.com

Accredited Peace Professional, Civilian Peace Services Canada
Web: https://paulmailletpeacemaker.wordpress.com

http://civilianpeaceservice.ca

Truckload Of Weapons Heading For Nigeria Seized In Ghana.  Posted by Information Nigeria in Home . Nigerian News on January 11, 2012

Dealing with the fog of truth in conflict zones is a real challenge.   There are reports and counter-reports as to what is really happening in Syria.   The issue of disputed facts, or truth as to what is happening, is always an issue in conflict zones.  It is difficult to know what to believe from reports in a climate of such intense competing interests, from parties in deadly conflict and their media resources.

This is really a situation of the public and governments forming opinions, making decisions, and acting based on insufficient information and uncertainty.    So the question is one of how to make decisions that would be right no matter what the facts may be.   Maybe the approach is to take disputed facts with a healthy dose of scepticism and act from the position of non violence, neutrality and human rights.

In this regard, perhaps the relief of suffering and the reduction of conflict should guide policy responses.  This may involve advocating strategies of first stopping the violence and care for the victims and lastly to deal with justice and reconciliation when clarity is brought to the conflict.  This is much easier said than done, and maybe not always achievable, but it is a path to walk down that I can live with.  It is a path with heart that we can demand and expect from our government.

Responsibility to Protect ( r2p) is possibly part of one of the most important and evolutionary responses to armed conflict that is emerging in a collective sense, in the world today.   However, R2p or rtop is a fragile and vulnerable expression of the need to approach conflict in a different way. Our first foray into this in Libya was nothing to be proud of and we must do better. There is no doubt that non-violence philosophies and peace movements need a philosophical and operational foundation that is relevant and obligatory, to meet global challenges. The need for specific r2p obligations and responses codified in international law is one thing, but also needed are general obligations for individuals and humanity to do what they can. The beginning emergence of national peace ministries and civilian peace services as partners in national and individual responses to conflict, is probably the future, and it is what we need to nurture. This means building a community of practice and law to respond to conflict in ways other than military.  It means creating a civil capacity for individuals to contribute.

In a greater sense, it means awakening to the possibilities and having the courage to make good choices and take action.

There is no doubt that history will characterize the beginning of this century by the so called “war on terror”. A global effort has been mounted  against what is perceived as a major threat to human security and international stability. The difficulty with this characterization is that the term “war’ has not shown itself very useful to developing an effective response to this threat. War leads to the traditional military responses towards terrorism, to such violence, that usually involves confrontation, fear, anger, then hate that often leads to counter tactics that involves further violence and suffering. A military response to terrorism invokes the laws of armed conflict and just war tradition and usually involves search and destroy, initially with heavy weapons, collateral damage. A policing response involves a “serve and protect” approach which usually includes identification, arrest, trial and incarceration. Perhaps it is time to explore alternatives in which put aside “just war tradition” in favour of building “just peace tradition” or  operations that look to non violent, community based and good governance approaches that “drain the  ocean’ that terrorists need to survive and approaches that deal with the conditions of poverty and ideology that recruit terrorists.

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