Creating a Culture of Peace

The foregoing material might be likened to the hardware of an Alternative Global Security System. It dealt with the actual hardware of war and the institutions that support it and institutional reforms necessary to manage conflict without large-scale interstate or civil violence. The following material is the necessary software to run it. It addresses what Thomas Merton called the “climate of thought” that allows politicians and everyone else to prepare for and carry out massive violence.

Put in the simplest possible terms, a peace culture is a culture that promotes peaceable diversity. Such a culture includes lifeways, patterns of belief, values, behavior, and accompanying institutional arrangements that promote mutual caring and well-being as well as an equality that includes appreciation of difference, stewardship, and equitable sharing of the resources. . . . It offers mutual security for humankind in all its diversity through a profound sense of species identity as well as kinship with the living earth. There is no need for violence.
Elise Boulding (Founding figure of Peace and Conflict Studies)

A culture of peace is contrasted with a warrior culture, also known as a dominator society, where warrior gods instruct the people to create hierarchies of rank so that men dominate other men, men dominate women, there is constant competition and frequent physical violence and nature is seen as something to be conquered. In a warrior culture, safety is only for those individuals or nations that are at the top, if they can stay there. No society is completely one or the other, but in today’s world the tilt is toward the warrior societies, making necessary the growth of a culture of peace if humanity is to survive. Societies that socialize their children for aggressive behavior make wars more likely, and in a vicious circle, wars socialize people for aggression.

Every relationship of domination, of exploitation, of oppression is by definition violent, whether or not the violence is expressed by drastic means. In such a relationship, dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things – the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.
Paulo Freire (Educator)

In 1999 the United Nations General Assembly approved a Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.1 Article I further defines it:

A culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behaviour and ways of life based on:

  1. Respect for life, ending of violence and promotion and practice of nonviolence through education, dialogue and cooperation;
  2. Full respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States and non-intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and international law;
  3. Full respect for and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  4. Commitment to peaceful settlement of conflicts;
  5. Efforts to meet the developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations;
  6. Respect for and promotion of the right to development;
  7. Respect for and promotion of equal rights and opportunities for women and men;
  8. Respect for and promotion of the right of everyone to freedom of expression, opinion and information;
  9. Adherence to the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue and understanding at all levels of society and among nations; fostered by an enabling

The General Assembly identified eight action areas:

  1. Fostering a culture of peace through education
  2. Promoting sustainable economic and social development.
  3. Promoting respect for all human rights.
  4. Ensuring equality between women and men.
  5. Fostering democratic participation.
  6. Advancing understanding, tolerance and solidarity.
  7. Supporting participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge.
  8. Promoting international peace and security.

The Global Movement for the Culture of Peace is a partnership of groups from civil society that have banded together to promote a culture of peace. Part of the work is to tell a new story.

Telling a New Story

The deepest crises experienced by any society are those moments of change when the story becomes inadequate for meeting the survival demands of a present situation.
Thomas Berry (“Earth Scholar”)

Crucial to further developing a culture of peace is the telling of a new story about humanity and the earth. The old story, beloved by governments and too many journalists and teachers, is that the world is a dangerous place, that war has always been with us, is inevitable, in our genes, and good for the economy, that preparing for war ensures peace, that it’s impossible to end war, that the global economy is a dog-eat-dog competition and if you don’t win you lose, that resources are scarce and if you want to live well you must grab them, often by force, and that nature is simply a mine of raw materials. This story is a fatalistic self-fulfilling deterministic outlook that claims to be realism but is in fact defeatist pessimism.

In the old story, history is presented as little more than a succession of wars. As peace educator Darren Reiley puts it:

The assumption that war is a natural and necessary force of human progress is deeply ingrained and continues to be reinforced by the way we teach history. In the U.S., the content standards for teaching American History go like this: “Cause and consequences of the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression (and how World War II ended it), Civil Rights , war, war, war.” Taught this way, war becomes the unquestioned driver of social change, but it is an assumption that needs to be challenged, or students will take it for the truth.

All the cooperative endeavors of humanity, the long periods of peace, the existence of peaceful societies, the development of conflict resolution skills, the remarkable stories of successful nonviolence, are all ignored in the traditional recounting of the past that can only be described as “warist.” Fortunately, historians from the Council on Peace Research in History and others have begun revising this view, bringing to light the reality of peace in our history.

There is a new story, backed up by science and experience. In fact, war is a relatively recent social invention. We humans have been around for over 100,000 years but there is little evidence for warfare, and certainly interstate warfare, going back much more than 6,000 years, very few known earlier instances of war back 12,000 years, and none earlier.2 For 95 percent of our history we were without war, indicating that war is not genetic, but cultural. Even during the worst period of wars we have seen, the 20th century, there was far more interstate peace in the human community than war. For example, the U.S. fought Germany for six years but was at peace with her for ninety-four, with Australia for over a hundred years, with Canada for well over that, and never at war with Brazil, Norway, France, Poland, Burma, etc. Most people live at peace most of the time. In fact, we are living in the midst of a developing global peace system.

The old story defined the human experience in terms of materialism, greed, and violence in a world where individuals and groups are alienated from one another and from nature. The new story is a story of belonging, of cooperative relationships. Some have called it the story of a developing “partnership society.” It is the story of an emerging realization that we are a single species –humanity — living in a generous web of life that provides all we need for life. We are partnered with one another and with the earth for life. What enriches life is not mere material goods, although a minimum is surely necessary—but rather meaningful work and relationships based on trust and mutual service. Acting together we have the power to create our own destiny. We are not doomed to failure.

The Metta Center on Nonviolence holds four propositions that help define the new story.

  • Life is an interconnected whole of inestimable worth.
  • We cannot be fulfilled by an indefinite consumption of things, but by a potentially infinite expansion of our relationships.
  • We can never injure others without injuring ourselves . . .
  • Security does not come from . . . defeating “enemies”; it can only come from . . . turning enemies into friends.3

The Unprecedented Peace Revolution of Modern Times

Surprisingly, if one looks at the last 200 years of history, one sees not only the industrialization of warfare, but also a powerful trend toward a peace system and the development of a culture of peace, a veritable revolution. Beginning with the emergence for the first time in history of citizen based organizations dedicated to getting rid of war in the early 19th century, some 28 trends are clearly visible leading toward a developing global peace system. These include: the emergence for the first time of international courts (starting with the International Court of Justice in 1899); of international parliamentary institutions to control war (the League in 1919 and the UN in 1946); the invention of international peacekeeping forces under the auspices of the UN (Blue Helmets) and other international organizations such as the African Union, deployed in dozens of conflicts around the globe for over 50 years; the invention of nonviolent struggle as a substitute for war, beginning with Gandhi, carried on by King, perfected in the struggles to overthrow the East European Communist Empire, Marcos in the Philippines, and Mubarak in Egypt and elsewhere (even used successfully against the Nazis); the invention of new techniques of conflict resolution known as non-adversarial bargaining, mutual gains bargaining, or win-win; the development of peace research and peace education including the rapid spread of peace research institutions and projects and peace education in hundreds of colleges and universities around the world; the peace conference movement, e.g., the Wisconsin Institute annual Student Conference, annual Fall Conference, the Peace and Justice Studies Association annual conference, the International Peace Research Association biennial conference, Pugwash annual peace conference, and many others.

In addition to these developments there is now a large body of peace literature – hundreds of books, journals, and thousands of articles – and the spread of democracy (it is a fact that democracies tend not to attack one another); the development of large regions of stable peace, especially in Scandinavia, U.S./Canada/Mexico, South America, and now Western Europe—where future war is either unthinkable or highly unlikely; the decline of racism and apartheid regimes and the end of political colonialism. We are, in fact, witnessing the end of empire. Empire is becoming an impossibility due to asymmetric warfare, nonviolent resistance, and astronomical costs that bankrupt the imperial state.

More parts of this peace revolution include the erosion of national sovereignty: nation states can no longer keep out immigrants, ideas, economic trends, disease organisms, intercontinental ballistic missiles, information, etc. Further advances include the development of the worldwide women’s movement–education and rights for women have been spreading rapidly in the 20th century and, with notable exceptions, women tend to be more concerned with the well-being of families and the earth than are men. Educating girls is the single most important thing we can do to ensure sound economic development. Further components of the revolution are the rise of the global environmental sustainability movement aimed at slowing and ending excessive consumption of resources and oil that create shortages, poverty, and pollution and exacerbate conflicts; the spread of peace-oriented forms of religion (the Christianity of Thomas Merton and Jim Wallis, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, the Buddhism of the Dalai Lama, the Jewish Peace Fellowship, the Muslim Peace Fellowship and the Muslim Voice for Peace); and the rise of international civil society from a handful of INGOs in 1900 to tens of thousands today, creating a new, nongovernmental, citizen-based world system of communication and interaction for peace, justice, environmental preservation, sustainable economic development, human rights, disease control, literacy, and clean water; the rapid growth in the 20th century of an international law regime controlling war, including the Geneva Conventions, the treaties banning land mines and the use of child soldiers, atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, placing nuclear weapons on the sea bed, etc.; the rise of the human rights movement, unprecedented before 1948 (Universal Declaration of Human Rights), once totally ignored, now an international norm whose violation is an outrage in most countries and brings immediate response from states and NGOs.

Nor is this all. The peace revolution includes the rise of the global conference movement such as the Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio, attended by 100 heads of state, 10,000 journalists, and 30,000 citizens. Since then global conferences on economic development, women, peace, global warming, and other topics have been held, creating a new forum for people from all over the world to come together to confront problems and create cooperative solutions; the further evolution of a system of diplomacy with well-established norms of diplomatic immunity, 3rd party good offices, permanent missions—all designed to allow states to communicate even in conflict situations; and the development of global interactive communication via the World Wide Web and cell phones means that ideas about democracy, peace, environment, and human rights spread almost instantly. The peace revolution also includes the appearance of peace journalism as writers and editors have become more thoughtful and critical of war propaganda and more attuned to the sufferings that war causes. Perhaps most important are shifting attitudes about war, a sharp decline in this century of the old attitude that war is a glorious and noble enterprise. At best, people think it is a dirty, violent necessity. A special part of this new story is spreading information about the record of successful nonviolent methods of peace and justice making.4 The emergence of this embryonic global peace system is part of the larger development of a culture of peace.

Wherever people gather for selfless ends, there is vast augmentation of their individual capacities. Something wonderful, something momentous happens. An irresistible force begins to move, which, though we may not see it, is going to change our world.
Eknath Easwaraen (Spiritual Leader)

Debunking Old Myths about War

Modern societies are often guided by a set of beliefs about conflict that are at best unquestioned myths. These need to be widely challenged. They are:

Myth: It is impossible to eliminate war.

Fact: to say this is to submit fatalistically to determinism, to believe that we humans do not make our history but are the helpless victims of forces beyond our control, that we have no free will. In fact, it was once said that it was impossible to abolish legalized slavery, dueling, blood feuds and other institutions that were deeply embedded in societies of their time, practices that are now, if not fully in the dustbin of history, universally understood to be eliminable. War is a social invention, not a permanent feature of human existence. It is a choice, not something imposed by a law of nature.

Myth: War is in our genes.

Fact: if this were true, all societies would be making war all of the time, which we know is not the case. During the most recent 6,000 years, war has been sporadic and some societies have not known war.5 Some have known it and then abandoned it. Quite a few nations have chosen to have no military.6 War is a social, not a biological event.

Myth: War is “natural.”

Fact: it is very difficult to get people to kill in warfare. A great deal of psychological conditioning is required even to get them to fire their guns and very often they are traumatized by the experience and suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. Many veterans of combat end up chemically dependent and many commit suicide, unable to live with what they have done. Mass killing is not a part of our nature—quite the opposite is true.

Myth: We have always had war.

Fact: war is an invention of the last five percent of human existence. Archeology finds little evidence of weapons or war-gods or dominator societies before 4,000 b.C.E.

Myth: War is inevitable because of crises beyond our control like resource scarcity, environmental crises, over-population, etc.

Fact: humans are capable of rational behavior. War is always a choice and other choices are always possible if humans use their genetically endowed imaginations and inventiveness. Nonviolent resistance is always a choice, as are negotiation, economic sanctions, and many other responses to aggression.

Myth: We are a sovereign nation.

Fact: sovereignty rests on the belief that a people can draw a line around themselves and keep out anything they do not want to enter their nation, by war as a last resort. In fact, borders are now wholly permeable. One cannot keep out intercontinental ballistic missiles, ideas and information, disease organisms, refugees and migrants, economic influences, new technologies, the effects of climate shift, cyber-attacks, and cultural artifacts such as films and musical trends. Furthermore, most countries are not at all homogeneous but have highly mixed populations.

Myth: We go to war to ensure our defense.

Fact: “defense” is different from “offense.” Defense means to protect one’s borders from incursion as opposed to aggression, which is to cross another nation’s borders to attack them. Establishing military bases around the world is offensive and it is counterproductive, stimulating hostility and threats rather than eliminating them. It makes us less secure. A defensive military posture would consist only of a coast guard, border patrol, anti-aircraft weapons, and other forces able to repel attack. Current “defense spending” by the u.S. Is almost wholly for projecting military power worldwide: offense, not defense.

But if the term has any meaning, it cannot be stretched to cover offensive war making or aggressive militarism. If ‘defense’ is to mean something other than ‘offense,’ then attacking another nation ‘so that they can’t attack us first’ or ‘to send a message’ or to ‘punish’ a crime is not defensive and not necessary.
David Swanson (Author, Activist)

Myth: Some wars are “good” wars; for example, World War II.

Fact: it is true that cruel regimes were destroyed in world war ii, but to assert this is to use a curious definition of “good.” World war ii resulted in overwhelming destruction of cities and all their cultural treasures, in an economic loss of unprecedented proportions, in massive environmental pollution, and (not least) the deaths of 100 million people, the maiming and dislocation of millions of others, the birth of two new superpowers, and the unleashing of the age of nuclear terror. And both sides of world war ii had the option in the preceding years and decades, of taking steps that would have avoided warfare.

Myth: the “Just War Doctrine”

Fact: the doctrine of just war, i.E., That a war is justified in spite of the general injunction to prefer peace, comes out of a fourth century c.E. Rejection of the traditional christian practice of pacifism. This doctrine stated that in order to go to war many criteria had to be satisfied, including that the war had to be fought with proportionate means (the evil of the destruction could not outweigh the evil of not going to war), and that civilians were never to be attacked.7 The purposeful slaughter of civilians by mass aerial bombardment and the onset of the colossal deadliness of nuclear weapons make world war ii an unjust war. In fact, given modern weapons (even so-called “smart bombs”) it is impossible to wage war without killing innocent children, women, old men, and other non-combatants. Calling this evil “collateral damage” does not make an exception for it — it simply describes it with a deceitful euphemism. Finally, the now-proven alternative of nonviolent defense provides a resistance response to tyranny and invasion that satisfies all the criteria of just war without destroying millions of lives and is a response that returns civilization to original “christian” values. No war can satisfy the conditions of absolute last resort. In the wars of the last twenty years, the most important motive has been to control the flow of oil out of the middle east, and, as we have seen, the so-called “war on terror” has only created more terrorists. However, a permanent state of war does benefit a small elite of war manufacturers and suppliers and serves as an excuse to restrict civil liberties.

Myth: War and war preparation bring peace and stability.

Fact: the ancient romans said, “if you want peace, prepare for war.” What they got was war after war until it destroyed them. What the romans considered “peace” was dictating terms to the helpless conquered, much as occurred after world war i at which time an observer said that this was not a peace but a truce that would last only twenty years, which turned out to be the case. Making war creates resentment, new enemies, distrust, and further wars. Preparation for war makes other nations feel they must also prepare and so a vicious circle is created which perpetuates the war system.

Myth: War makes us safe. War may be unjust and bloody but in the end it makes us safe. Corollary: “The price of freedom is blood.”

Fact: war makes everyone less safe. The losers lose, the winners lose, and all the survivors lose. In fact, no one wins a modern war. Many are killed on both sides. If by chance the “winners” fight the war in the losers’ land, the winners nevertheless have many killed, spend treasure that could have been used to benefit their own citizens, and pollute the earth through greenhouse gas emissions and the release of toxins. The “victorious war” paves the way for future arms races and instability, leading eventually to the next war. War simply doesn’t work.

Myth: War is necessary to kill the terrorists.

Fact: war mythology tells us that “our” wars (whoever “we” are) kill evil people who need to be killed to protect us and our freedoms. In fact, while some “terrorists” are killed, recent wars waged by wealthy nations are one-sided slaughters of innocents and ordinary residents and end up creating more terrorists while poisoning the natural environment. Rather than choosing a violent response to terrorism or invasion, which are just symptoms of a conflict problem, it is more sensible to look for the causes of the disease which has led to the conflict. In particular, it is more effective to learn about the history and what part your nation might have played in creating the conflict and the hostility so that the problem can be dealt with at its root. Otherwise, a violent response just perpetuates and escalates the conflict.

Myth: War is good for the economy and benefits the war makers.

Fact: war and war preparation weaken an economy. Some people argue that it was world war ii that got the west or the united states out of the great depression. In fact, it was government deficit spending that restarted the economy. The spending just happened to be on war production, things that when used nevertheless destroyed economic value. The spending could have gone for economic goods that improved the standard of living. It is well documented that a dollar spent on education and health care produces more jobs than the same dollar spent in the war industry, and a dollar spent on use value (rather than bombs) such as rebuilding roads or establishing green energy provides for the common good. Dollars spent to maintain the flow of oil end up polluting not only where it is eventually burned, but the oil used to power the military machine (in the u.S., 340,000 Barrels a day) also leads to a degrading of the environment. While war spending benefits a small number of war profiteers, peace is good for everyone and for the natural environment.

Planetary Citizenship: One People, One Planet, One Peace

Humans constitute a single species, Homo sapiens. While we have developed a marvelous diversity of ethnic, religious, economic, and political systems which enrich our common life, we are in fact one people living on a very fragile planet. The biosphere which supports our lives and our civilizations is extremely thin, like the skin of an apple. Within it is everything we all need to stay alive and well. We all share in one atmosphere, one great ocean, one global climate, one single source of fresh water endlessly cycled around the earth, one great biodiversity. These constitute the biophysical commons on which civilization rests. It is gravely threatened by our industrial way of life, and our common task is to preserve it from destruction if we wish to live on.

Today the single most important responsibility of national governments and governing agreements at the international level is the protection of the commons. We need to think first of the health of the global commons and only second in terms of national interest, for the latter is now totally dependent on the former. A perfect storm of global environmental disasters is already underway including unprecedented rates of extinction, a depletion of global fisheries, an unprecedented soil erosion crisis, massive deforestation, and accelerating and making these worse, a climate disaster in the making. We face a planetary emergency.

The commons also includes the social commons which is the condition of just peace. All must be safe if any are to be safe. The safety of any must guarantee the safety of all. A just peace is a society in which there is no fear of violent attack (war or civil war), of exploitation of one group by another, no political tyranny, where everyone’s basic needs are met, and where all have the right to participate in the decisions that impact them. Just as a healthy biophysical commons requires biological diversity, a healthy social commons requires social diversity.

Protecting the commons is best achieved by voluntary consensus so that it is a self-organizing process from below, a function of shared values and mutual respect that arise out of a sense of responsibility for the planet’s well-being. When consensus is not available, when some individuals, corporations, or nations do not care about the common good, when they want to make war or degrade the environment for gain, then government is needed to protect the commons and that means laws, courts, and the police power necessary to enforce them.

We have reached a stage in human and evolutionary history where the protection of the commons is necessary not only to the good life for humanity, but to our very survival. This means new ideas, especially the realization that we are a single planetary community. It also includes creating new associations, new forms of democratic governance and new agreements between nations to protect the commons.

War not only distracts us from this vital task, but it adds to the destruction. We will never end conflict on the planet, but conflict does not have to lead to war. We are a highly intelligent species who have already developed nonviolent methods of conflict resolution which can, and in some cases are, taking the place of violent means. We need to scale these up until we provide for common security, a world where all the children are safe and healthy, free from fear, want, and persecution, a successful human civilization resting on a healthy biosphere. One people, one planet, one peace is the essence of the new story we need to tell. It is the next stage in the progress of civilization. In order to grow and spread the culture of peace we need to reinforce several already ongoing trends.

Spreading and Funding Peace Education and Peace Research

For millennia we educated ourselves about war, focusing our best minds on how to win it. Just as narrow-minded historians had insisted there was no such thing as Black history or women’s history, so too they argued there was no such thing as the history of peace. Humanity had failed to focus on peace until the new fields of peace research and peace education developed in the wake of the catastrophe that was World War II and accelerated in the 1980s after the world came close to nuclear annihilation. In the years since, there has been a vast increase in information about the conditions of peace.

Peace Science has emerged as an academic discipline now offered worldwide by more than 450 university programs. A myriad of peer-reviewed academic journals, textbooks, and conferences address both the theoretical and practical developments in the peacebuilding arena, as do peace research institutions like the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute or the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and professional associations like the International Peace Research Association and its regional affiliates in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Lastly the Global Peace Index, now going into its 10th year, is probably the most renowned research-based measure of peacefulness or lack thereof. The point is, Peace Science is real and here to stay. (Give Peace Science a Chance in Diplomatic Courier)8

The United States Institute of Peace was established by Congress in 1984 as an independent, federally-funded national security institution devoted to the nonviolent prevention and mitigation of deadly conflict abroad.9 It sponsors events, provides education and training and publications including a Peacemaker’s Tool Kit. Unfortunately, the U.S. Institute of Peace has never been known to oppose U.S. wars. But all these institutions are substantial steps in the direction of spreading understanding of peaceful alternatives.

These organizations are a small sample of the institutions and individuals working on peace research. We have learned a great deal about how to create and maintain peace in the last fifty years. We are at a stage in human history where we can say with confidence that we know better and more effective alternatives to war and violence. Much of their work has provided for the development and growth of peace education.

Peace Education now embraces all levels of formal education from kindergarten through doctoral studies. The Global Campaign for Peace Education seeks to build awareness and political support for the introduction of peace education, including non-formal education, in all schools throughout the world and promote the education of all teachers to teach for peace.10 Hundreds of college campuses provide majors, minors and certificate programs in peace education. At the university level the Peace and Justice Studies Association gathers researchers, teachers and peace activists for conferences and publishes a journal, The Peace Chronicle, and provides a resource base. Curricula and courses have multiplied and are taught as age-specific instruction at all levels. In addition a whole new field of literature has developed including hundreds of books, articles, videos and films about peace now available to the general public.

Cultivating Peace Journalism

How is the world ruled and how do wars start? Diplomats tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read.
Karl Kraus (Poet, Playwright)

The “warist” bias we commonly see in the teaching of history also infects mainstream journalism. Too many reporters, columnists, and news anchors are stuck in the old story that war is inevitable and that it brings peace. Moreover:

…in the media the “expertise” related to war and peace provided by members of the intelligentsia is very one-sided. Many of these eloquent individuals have achieved their legitimacy through academic credentials, military authority, or recognition as political commentators. Their facts, opinions, and advice on matters of war and peace shape the dominant discourse and mostly serve to uphold the status quo of a war system. (Give Peace Science a Chance in Diplomatic Courier)11

There are, however, new initiatives in “peace journalism,” a movement conceived by peace scholar Johan Galtung. In peace journalism, editors and writers give the reader a chance to consider nonviolent responses to conflict rather than the usual knee-jerk reaction of counter violence.12 Peace Journalism focuses on the structural and cultural causes of violence and its impacts on actual people (rather than the abstract analysis of States), and frames conflicts in terms of their real complexity in contrast to war journalism’s simple “good guys versus bad guys.” It also seeks to publicize peace initiatives commonly ignored by the mainstream press. The Center for Global Peace Journalism publishes The Peace Journalist Magazine and offers 10 characteristics of “PJ”:

1. PJ is proactive, examining the causes of conflict, and looking for ways to encourage dialogue before violence occurs. 2. PJ looks to unite parties, rather than divide them, and eschews oversimplified “us vs. them” and “good guy vs. bad guy” reporting. 3. Peace reporters reject official propaganda, and instead seek facts from all sources. 4. PJ is balanced, covering issues/suffering/peace proposals from all sides of a conflict. 5. PJ gives voice to the voiceless, instead of just reporting for and about elites and those in power. 6. Peace journalists provide depth and context, rather than just superficial and sensational “blow by blow” accounts of violence and conflict. 7. Peace journalists consider the consequences of their reporting. 8. Peace journalists carefully choose and analyze the words they use, understanding that carelessly selected words are often inflammatory. 9. Peace journalists thoughtfully select the images they use, understanding that they can misrepresent an event, exacerbate an already dire situation, and re-victimize those who have suffered. 10. Peace Journalists offer counter-narratives that debunk media-created or -perpetuated stereotypes, myths, and misperceptions.

The following table based on Johan Galtung’s work compares the Peace Journalism framework to the War/Violence Journalism framework:13

A notable example is Democracy Now!’s War and Peace Report. It provides the “audience with access to people and perspectives rarely heard in the U.S.corporate-sponsored media, including independent and international journalists, ordinary people from around the world who are directly affected by U.S. foreign policy, grassroots leaders and peace activists, artists, academics and independent analysts”.14

Another example is PeaceVoice, a project of the Oregon Peace Institute.15 PeaceVoice welcomes submission of op-eds that take a “new story” approach to international conflict and then distributes them to newspapers and blogs around the United States. Taking advantage of the internet, there are many blogs that also distribute the new paradigm thinking including Waging Nonviolence, the Transcend Media Service, New Clear Vision, Peace Action Blog, Waging Peace Blog, Bloggers for Peace and many other sites on the World Wide Web.

With growing recognition of Peace Journalism, viable alternatives to the common destructive responses in the war system will be made available to the many publics. Once those alternatives come to light, it has been proven that there will be a decline in public support for war.16



I.Peace/conflict oriented

Explore conflict formation, x parties, y goals, z issues

General ‘win, win’ orientation

Open space, open time; causes and outcomes anywhere, also in history/culture

Making conflicts transparent

Giving voice to all parties; empathy, understanding

See conflict/war as problem, focus on conflict creativity

Humanization of all sides

Proactive: prevention before any violence/war occurs

II. Truth-oriented

Expose untruths on all sides / uncover all cover-ups

III. People-oriented

Focus on suffering all over; on women, the Aged, children, giving voice to voiceless

Give name to all evil-doers

Focus on people as peacemakers

IV. Solution-oriented

Peace = nonviolence + creativity

Highlight peace initiatives, also to prevent more war

Focus on structure, culture, the peaceful society

Aftermath: resolution, reconstruction, reconciliation

War/Violence Journalism


Focus on conflict arena, 2 parties, 1 goal (win), war

General zero-sum orientation

Closed space, closed time; causes and exits in arena, who threw the first stone

Making wars opaque/secret

‘Us-them’ journalism, propaganda, voice, for ‘us’

See ‘them’ as the problem, focus on who prevails in war

Dehumanization of ‘them’

Reactive: waiting for violence before reporting

Focus on invisible effects of violence (trauma and glory, damage to structure/culture

II. Propaganda-oriented

Expose ‘their’ untruths / help ‘our’ cover-ups/lies

III. Elite-oriented

Focus on ‘our’ suffering; on able-bodied elite males, being their mouth-piece

Give name to their evil-doers

Focus on elite peacemakers

IV. Victory-oriented

Peace = victory + ceasefire

Conceal peace initiative, before victory is at hand

Focus on treaty, institution, the controlled society

Leaving for another war, return if the old flares up again


Peace research, education, journalism and blogging are part of the newly developing culture of peace, as are recent developments in religion.

Encouraging the Work of Peaceful Religious Initiatives

Peace has been a religious concern for much of history. At the same time we have to recognize that religion has been used to justify violence and wars. In the contemporary world, religious extremism often ignites violence. We must not fall into the thought-trap of allowing religious interpretation and misinterpretation and false labeling to lead us to black-and-white assumptions about religious violence.

Just think about the following examples. In his human approach to world peace the Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama advocates loving kindness. In the build-up to military intervention in Syria, Pope Francis made a compelling appeal for seeking a peaceful resolution. During the 2011 Egyptian Revolution Nevin Zaki captured and tweeted the powerful image of Christians joining hands in a circle to protect a Muslim group of protesters as they prayed. These are just a few snapshots of a larger trend of growing advocacy of peace messages in all major religions.

Throughout the history of nonviolence we have seen the importance of faith communities, recognizing that many nonviolent leaders were/are people of strong religious and moral faith. Just consider this simple quote by Catholic writer and peace advocate Thomas Merton:

War is the kingdom of Satan. Peace is the kingdom of God.

Regardless of one’s faith tradition, rejection of institutional religion, spiritual direction or complete atheism, the work by peaceful religious initiatives is encouraging and should be further encouraged.17

The followers of every religion can cite sources from scripture that justify violence, but all of the world’s religions also contain scriptural teachings that advocate peaceful relationships among all people. The former must be debunked in favor of the latter. The “golden rule” is found in one form or another in them all, as in the scriptures below, as well as in the ethics of most atheists.

Christianity: Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. Matthew 7.12

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Islam: Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 13

Hinduism: One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8

Buddhism: Comparing oneself to others in such terms as “Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I,” he should neither kill nor cause others to kill. Sutta Nipata 705

African Traditional: One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

Confucianism: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.” Analects 15.23

Many religions host organizations for peace such as the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Pax Christi, the Jewish Voice for Peace, Muslims For Peace, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Yakjah (a Hindu peace organization working in the Kashmir), etc. Many interfaith peace organizations are also thriving from the oldest, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, United Religions Initiative, and Religions for Peace USA to numerous recent foundings such as Multi-faith Voices for Peace and Justice, founded in 2003. The World Council of Churches is heading up a campaign to abolish nuclear weapons.

The outlined perspectives on religions and peace hopefully leave the more antagonistic ones behind – namely that religion is the only way to peace or that religion is inherently conflictual. It is not a question of “peace through religion” or “peace without religion”. It is about whether individuals or groups chose to adopt faith-based identities in their work toward a World Beyond War or not.

1. The valuable ideals of the United Nations and its Culture of Peace initiative need to be acknowledged despite the UN’s organizational imperfection outlined earlier.

2. There is not one single authoritative source providing evidence for the birth of warfare. Numerous archeological and anthropological studies provide ranges from 12,000 to 6,000 year or less. It would go beyond the scope of this report to enter the debate. A good overview of selected sources is provided by John Horgan in The End of War (2012)


4. These trends are presented in depth in the study guide “The Evolution of a Global Peace System”and the short documentary provided by the War Prevention Initiative at .

5. Social scientists have convincingly described at least 25 societies around the world in which there is very little internal violence or external warfare. See more at

6. The most prominent example of Costa Rica’s path of demilitarization is featured in the 2016 documentary A Bold Peace (

7. In the Spring of 2015, the Vatican hosted the conference “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence”. 80 participants concluded that the just war doctrine should be rejected as a viable or productive Catholic tradition. See the insightful article Did the Vatican just throw out its just war doctrine by Erica Chenoweth at

8. See the full article by Patrick Hiller in the Diplomatic Courier at


10. The Global Campaign for Peace Education was founded at the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in 1999. See more at:

11. See the full article by Patrick Hiller in the Diplomatic Courier at

12. It is a growing movement, according to the website

13. Galtung’s table re-created in Lynch, Jake, and Annabel McGoldrick. 2007. “Peace Journalism.” In Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies, edited by Charles Webel and Johan Galtung, 248–64. London; New York: Routledge.

14. See

15. See

16. See Peace Science Digest analysis Proven Decline in Public Support for War When the Alternatives Come to Light at

17. Two historically antagonistic perspectives are: (1) religion is the only way to peace; (2) religion is inherently conflictual. A more flexible perspective is peace through religion where the role of religious thinking in the public sphere and the potential contributions of religion are examined

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate To Any Language