By Bruce L. Cook, Ph.D.
Last month I was privileged to publish a trade book entitled Strategies for Peace[i]. I joined Maria Cristina Azcona as co-editor and the book emerged as a collection of new ideas about peacebuilding.
At the time I had no knowledge of the Bonobo Monkey colony in D.R. Congo. Since then I learned on the CBS Program 60 Minutes[ii] that Bonobo Monkeys have a brain one-third the size of humans, but they don’t kill each other. One has to wonder where we, with much larger brains, have gone wrong. Further, female monkeys there are seen to squelch conflict without major injuries. Which makes these monkeys superior to humans in terms of important ways. If I had known that I might have consulted these primates instead!
As it happened, I started the book as an essay on leadership, thinking that too little attention has been given to rogue leaders who are fighting against world peace. I wrote a chapter and expected it to keep growing until I had a book-length publication. After all, I was the first to suggest that the world situation is caused by a leadership problem, and to suggest that social media and journalists could help solve it.
After writing this I pondered the situation as a member of several peacemaking groups: Worldwide Peace Organization, World International Educators for World Peace, Global Harmony Association, World Mediation organization, etc. In light of these discussions it was clear to me that my “new look” at peacemaking was not comprehensive. In fact, many approaches to peace were already known and deserved further exploration.
So I decided to collect these ideas and present them in the best possible light.
For example, religion. Clearly, anyone studying world conflict must be appalled to see that so many people feel that it’s all caused by religion. How illogical is that? In my mind, religion is of utmost importance in life, but it’s unfair to restrict it to one particular dogma. For traditional people it was God on the mountain. For today’s cultures it is still a product of location. If born in China, the chances are you aren’t going to be a Christian. But it would be so unfair to use your geographical origin to judge the validity and vitality of your belief. So I turned to Kurt Johnson of the interspirituality movement and he and Philip Hellmich wrote an impressive original essay on this - Sacred and Secular Activists are Now Joining their Strategies for Peacebuilding.[iii]
So, that had to be included, along with my essay.
And, further, anyone studying the situation will be startled to notice that women have usually been denied any active role in leadership. (Remember, that could also be something to learn from Bonobo Monkeys!) In my article I had addressed this anomaly:
… to a large extent today’s problem may well be attributed to the lack of women in high leadership positions. Had women been included – for example, on a 50-50 basis as in the population – the world might not be suffering the disaster we now face. But no, with few exceptions, across the ages men have failed to respect women and include them in major decisions. Now we are left to suffer the outcome.
With my co-editor’s help, I approached Prof. Ada Aharoni of The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC) of Israel and she wrote an exceptional piece entitled Women Building a World beyond War[iv].
Now it was clear that the book would be an anthology of articles on peace. So I scanned my sources to see what was left.
For example, world citizenship seemed important. After all, a competitive country-by-country or region by region view of peacemaking seems futile and doomed to failure. If any nation becomes a world leader in peacemaking the country will undoubtedly be despised by other countries wanting this distinction. This kind of thing just seems to be wired into our brains. The alternative is to consider everyone part of one-world citizenship. And the current scholar in that field is Glen T. Martin of Radford University, who had given me a copy of his new publication, One World Renaissance[v]. He supplied a helpful article on the subject.
Then it was necessary to consider more personal, psychological approaches, such as the article “How to Achieve Peace through Family Relations” by co-editor Maria Cristina Azcona, who has since written Vivamos en Paz[vi] (Living in Peace). After all, problems in attaining world harmony have certain roots in personal relationships, parenting, and other psychological problems.
Also, in view of terrorist initiatives to indoctrinate youth in warped political education, one could never ignore the role of education. So I turned to Nina Meyerhof of Children of the Earth, who penned an original essay on education entitled “Authentic Education – Inner and Outer Peace.”[vii]
Also, I was reminded by cover art provider Celia Altschuler that the arts have a major role in peacebuilding, I was pleased to include her poem “Peace on Earth” and two articles by her, plus original thoughts on art in peacebuilding by Lida Sherefatmand.
Dr. Ernesto Kahan of Israel provided his original essay on medical actions in building trust among nations. That opened the door to the traditional, now university-based approaches called peace and conflict studies. For this I was privileged to present an original essay on therapy strategy in African conflict resolution. The article was based on actual conflict resolution experience of Rais Boneza, who I had published in my booklist’s first poetry book, Nomad[viii], in 2003 while he and his family were still living as refugees[ix] from D.R. Congo in Uganda.
The cast was set. Never again would I presume to write my own definitive solution to world peace. Further, I am freshly renewed in my suspicion of any single peace theory which claims to completely solve the problems.
However, I must also recognize that a definitive solution might someday emerge. And, based upon my experience, it would likely emerge from a primate colony in D.R. Congo – and be written by a female Bonobo Monkey!
Bruce L. Cook, Ph.D.is the Vice President, Worldwide Peace Organization (WWPO); Executive Vice President for Publicity at International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP); President of World Writers Resources, Inc.; and Author of Harmony of Nations: 1943 – 2020, Just Fiction Editions, 2012 To learn more about Bruce, click here.
[i] Bruce L. Cook and Maria Cristina Azcona (eds.), Strategies for Peace (Elgin, IL: Cook Communication, 2016).
[iii] Kurt Johnson and Phillip Hellmich, “Sacred and Secular Activists are Now Joining their Strategies for Peacebuilding,” Strategies for Peace (Elgin, IL: Cook Communication, 2016), pp. 27-41.
[iv] Ada Aharoni, “Women Building a World beyond War,” Strategies for Peace (Elgin, IL: Cook Communication, 2016), pp. 97-110.
[v] Glen T. Martin, One World Renaissance (Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy, 2015).
[vi] Maria Cristina Azcona, Vivamos en Paz (Elgin, IL: Cook Communication, 2016)
[vii] Nina Meyerhof, “Authentic Education – Inner and Outer Peace,” (Elgin, IL: Cook Communication, 2016), pp. 113-123.
[viii] Rais Neza Boneza, Nomad: A Refugee Poet (Elgin, IL: Cook Communication, 2003).
[ix] Rais Neza Boneza, “The Plight of a Refugee Poet,” see http://www.author-me.com/nonfiction/plightofarefugeepoet.htm
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This article appears in:
2016 Catalyst, Issue 15: Love, Peace & Activism