In the Preface to Barry’s textbook, Conflict Resolution: The Partnership Way (2019), we challenge the prevailing assumption that war is inevitable and declare that, the natural state of the universe is peaceful interdependence. This is also one of the founding principles of our non-profit organization, The Carolina Institute for Conflict Resolution and Creative Leadership. We proclaim that if we are able to understand true source of any conflict, then we are able to design effective strategies to resolve that conflict at its source.
Assuming That War Is Inevitable.
The problem has been that those foreign and military experts who work on identifying the source of these conflicts have led us into wars in Iraq and Afganistan. They simply are unable to see the true source of these conflicts and therefore the strategies they propose do not resolve them. This then leads them to conclude that war is inevitable and given that assumption the best they can do is design strategies that they hope will contain these conflicts and give up trying to ever resolve them. I sometimes call this behavior, premature hardening of the categories.
This strategy has characterized the foreign policy of the U. S. government for at least the past 200 years, but most notably since 9/11/2001. The seemingly unprovoked attack on innocent civilians on our soil triggered an escalated national fear reaction that has led to 1000 of times the amount of destruction in the lives of others than was done to us on that day.Billions are now being spent each day fighting the war on terror, almost without any thought of winning this war or restoring peace to the world. Since the underlying assumption is that war is inevitable, the goals become trying to contain the conflicts perpetrated by this evil force and hopefully helping to restore the false sense of safety the American people had prior to 9/11. This makes it virtually impossible to design a credible exit strategy from any occupation in a war-zone, because there is no possible exit from a war when you assume that it is inevitable.
Very little serious thought is currently being given at the highest levels to the true causes of the attack on 9/11. The collective projection that has evolved into a belief is that we were attacked for no reason by crazy, evil, and radical Islamic fundamentalists. So the only conclusion is to send more troops to fight those who started this war on terror wherever they are and sometimes where we think they are. This also feeds the projection by many of the residents of Afganistan that all Americans are evil, Christian, imperialists.Our projections actually save us from having to look at the true causes of the conflict and what we might have done to contribute to these people being so pissed off at us. For starters, hardly anyone in this country wants to admit that our current unsustainable lifestyle practiced by 4% of the world’s population that uses up 25% of the world’s resources, might piss off some people, particularly those currently living in poverty. However, I actually believe that the true source of their discontent and their conflict with us goes much deeper than this.
Assuming That Peace Is Inevitable
If you start with the assumption that peace is inevitable and that the natural state of the universe is peaceful interdependence, then you have to look for the true sources of these conflicts that have created aberrations of nature. In order to be able to search for the true sources of a conflict we need a framework or theory to guide our search. We need a set of testable assumptions that can lead us in a different direction, that leads us toward the restoration of the natural state of interdependence. In our books, we describe our Developmental Systems Theory, based on 20 years of research we have done in various human systems. This theory provides the clues to help us search for the true cause of all conflicts, particularly intractable conflicts that get repeated over and over without any resolution. Conflicts that are intractable and wont go away literally beg for a deeper, more complete search for their true causes.
Beyond the Belief That War Is Inevitable
First, they would begin to realize that what we have been doing in the world in the name of peace or democracy is based on collective fractal patterns of behavior and thinking that stems from the collective long-term effects of our own unrecognized and unhealed developmental shocks, traumas and stresses. They would then begin to design domestic policies to help the general public become better informed of how these long-term hidden effects of our early childhood events have distorted our collective values, thinking, behaviors and beliefs. They would then design policies and programs to help people heal their wounds caused by these early childhood experiences.
Coming from this point of view, an affective domestic policy would be to insure these essential developmental processes are completed in early childhood. This might involve at least one year of universal family leave so that mothers and fathers could devote more quality time and attention to parenting their infant. Actually, the U. S. and South Africa are the only developed countries that do not already provide such benefits. They would also need to establish an expanded parent education and support network to help parents be effective in the most difficult and important job on the planet.
They would provide access to free, universal, home visitation services that would give parents needed information and support, particularly to new parents. This has been found to be the most effective method of preventing child abuse and neglect and would save enormous money and resources in trying to repair the damage later that was done by unskilled and overwhelmed parents. Other effective policies might support the creation of a living wage for all workers to provide an economic floor for most families so that they could provide for themselves and their families. These are just a few examples of the many effective family and economic policies designed to help individuals and families complete their essential developmental processes.
This would provide them with a foundation for becoming responsible citizens in a democracy. At an international level, we could design effective global policies similar to those proposed by Rabbi Michael Lerner, in the form of a Global Marshall Plan that would involve all the developed nations contributing 1 percent to 1 and1/2 percent of their GDP. This money would be used to help the majority of the world lift out of poverty, disease, low levels of education, poor energy use, pollution, and poor food and water use.
Developing a foreign policy based on generosity instead of threats of military intervention would be a great place to start to help the world heal some of the wounds that we have helped to create by our greedy, aggressive and economically imperialistic foreign policies of the past. The challenge is to find policy makers and leaders who can get beyond the long-term effects of their own unrecognized and unhealed developmental shocks, traumas, and stresses.