Welcome to Prepare for Peace, one third of the Venusian Peace Project.
The subject here is obviously peace, but not in an obvious way. When we say the word “peace” certain associations pop up, but they are not very relevant here.
Venusian peace is a different animal. Fortunately. Because the usual kind of peace is neither very interesting, enjoyable, or even peaceful. Some think of balance of power as peace, while weapon-based peace does not strike us as being peaceful.
That’s why this is called the Venusian Peace Project.
If the word “peace” is a container, we suggest that the content be harmony, art, music, balance, beauty and love.
Those Venusian qualities makes peace capable of withstanding and balancing the competition, which is war and foremost crypto-war (= milder forms of war-related activities like debates, tournaments, contests, action movies, computer games, and generally most things built on the win-lose model. As in the motto for the movie The Highlander: THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.)
What is today called peace we call proto-peace — not yet real peace.
Venusian peace is peace in bloom.
Here is a video presentation:
[The painting: Portrait d’une jeune femme by Alfred Stevens]
Peace is much more than a question for scholars and academia. That’s a small world and peace is potentially enormous, encompassing, among other things, musical aspects.
The article above writes about the dichotomy of emphasizing peace vs. war in academic discourse. What it does not address, understandably but regrettably, is the dichotomy between academic and non-academic ways of thinking, square and extraordinary approaches to peace.
Our world has this almost anal fear of venturing outside the fence of academia. Sure, something of value MIGHT be found outside, in the cold… But why take the risk, why bother, when we have all these certified scholars and professors?
Let’s play it safe, so the world seems to reason.
Which means, let’s play it COMFY. It surely is possible to appraise the quality and potential value of non-academic ideas – obviously “non-academic” does not mean “valuable” — but it takes longer time. It’s SO much easier to just check if the ideas meet the usual academic criteria, and dump them if they don’t.
This checking can nowadays be done with algorithms and AI — which takes away the burden of thought, and gives us more time to play golf.
I just learned that there exists something called “active shooting drills” in American schools. I will not try to analyze reasons for this, nor mouth usual phrases like “how terrible and awful!”. If I were an American parent, maybe I would.
As a European non-parent (and peacenik) I reflect on the close relation between USA and violence.
In 1989 I traveled to New York to enact a repeat of a “happening” I had performed in Stockholm, Sweden a couple of times: my Dependence Day Celebration (5th of July). (Basically, it said: Man is a dependent creature, let’s admit it without shame, maybe even celebrate it.)
I am not ashamed to say I wanted attention in NYC. I sure didn’t want to sit in a corner and mumble to myself. I brought my chain (chained myself to a tree), my posters and my speech and headed for Central Park. After an hour or so the police ordered me to leave.
In sunny Stockholm (by Kungsträdgården) nobody cared, and not a few people enjoyed my quiet protest. In New York, begone in ten minutes!
Okay, maybe Central Park wasn’t the best place for my protest. A New York friend commented afterward: You know, to get attention here you almost have to kill somebody. I wasn’t prepared to do THAT, but I see the logic in her comment.
Stalk a film star, kill a rock star. Or at least kill yourself. That way a bit of posthumous attention (better than nothing) will come your way.
In the 1988 movie Dead Pool with Clint Eastwood there is a character named Gus Wheeler. He wants/ needs attention badly. First, he claims responsibility for murders he didn’t commit, and when the press turns up he douses himself in gasoline and threatens to immolate himself. He wants to be on camera. He is no murderer, just a lonely man who wants to be seen. On TV.
“I’m really gonna set myself on fire. And it’s gonna be on the news… and then finally everybody will know about me. About me! Gus Wheeler!”
And how did the Unabomber get our attention? With his manifesto? Well, eventually, but only after he sent some bombs to scientists.
Violence is what gets our attention. Of course, that is a really somber conclusion that puts our hopes of peace in the shadow.
I may be biased but USA seems to be in the center of the storm of violence. Sure, we Europeans knew and know how to kill, maim and torture, but not on the grand scale of Oncle Sam.
As I see it, very important war and violence seeds are coming from mass media (for whom “good news is no news”). Social media are not that different; the same longing for something wild, violent and tragic hangs in the air of Twitter. Internet (originally an America military invention) generally is no self-evident tool for peace.
Of course, there are individuals in USA who are intelligent, insightful and pacific. But the general trend seems to move towards greater tension, more and more polarization.
USA really lives up (or down) to the saying “If you want peace, prepare for war”. However, the word peace as used in that sentence is practically synonymous with war.
Whether you want peace or war — prepare for war. Sancta simplicitas!
It now strikes me that one motive for violence could be exactly this longing for attention, or large-scale attention: fame.
I believe that if an individual does feel loved or at least liked (not just on Facebook), he will not be desperate about getting on the News. His microcosm will supply him with love vitamins and trace substances. A total lack of this supply, and seeing attention-seeking people all around you (and in the news), you might be tempted to admit crimes you didn’t do, maybe even put fire to yourself.
This probably does not explain why countries (= politicians) make war, but could perhaps throw light on private violence, like school shootings. Not a theory, just thinking aloud.
Here is a sketch with seven obstacles. Actually there should be one more, let’s give it number zero.
0) “If you want peace, prepare for war” (Si vis pacem, para bellum. No less idiotic for being said in Latin.)
If you want peace prepare for war, and if you want war prepare for war..?
Seems we are always preparing for war. How on Earth is that going to give us peace?
Now on to the seven obstacles.
1) We don’t know what peace is.
2) The word is empty, or negative, or filled with explosives.
3) We are blind to the seeds of war and inspiration to war all around us.
4) We don’t desire it enough.
5) We don’t really believe that peace is possible.
6) We think that we peace-lovers are a weak minority.
7) We turn to the wrong people for peace.
1) We don’t know what peace is.
Even a small child can tell you, in a simple, basic sense, what war is. Most everybody understands war.
Ask even intelligent grownups to define peace, and they will have problems. They will probably resort to lame clichés. Can YOU define it?
If we don’t really know what “peace” means, how then can we work for it, find it, manifest it?
Let’s also add 1b.
1b) We don’t know what kind of peace we want.
Because there is not only one kind of peace. We don’t even know that there ARE different kinds.
2) The word is empty, or negative, or filled with explosives.
The word “peace” is either a nicely wrapped Christmas present that turns out to be empty, devoid of clear meaning. Or it is mainly defined negatively, as absence. “We have peace when we don’t have war.” This can be logical if you live in a country at war, but not if you live in a country not at war.
Finally, some people talk about “balance of power” as an aspect of, or means to, peace. If every party has enough (same amount) nuclear weapons then we will have balance = peace.
Such weapon-based or war-based peace doesn’t sound peaceful to us, to put it mildly.
3) We are blind to the seeds of war and the inspiration to war all around us.
We think that only politicians and soldiers are making war. At the same time we ourselves are busy doing microwar and protowar. Where? How? In our arguments, quarrels, debates (battere = hitting, beating), discussions (= to strike apart, asunder), verbal wars, “flame wars” on the Net. All of these manifestations are a kind of ritualized “battles”, war seeds.
Mass media inspires us in this same direction, with all these competitions and contests based on elimination, reporting political debates as if they were boxing matches. Social media are no better, focusing on conflict, polarization, even the potential of digital lynching. Being surrounded by such media with all their protowar inspiration, of course we are going to see life and society as a win-lose affair. However much we mouth the cliché of win-win.
4) We don’t desire it enough.
There are so many things more interesting than peace. Adventure movies, bungy jump, computer games, Eurosport, Facebook, Pokemon go, sex, hot gadgets, cool apps…
Besides, it is quite logical NOT to give our energy to something that we don’t really grasp and cannot define. If peace at least had some of the excitement of sports, or politics, or even opera. But it seems to be a static, sterile phenomenon. Yes, sure, fine and high and lofty, but somehow still unable to catch our actual interest.
5) We don’t really believe that peace is possible.
Fatalism is major disease with mankind. Our scientists have not only dethroned God (and made themselves our new gods) but also informed us that we are “mere specks of dust in the Universe”. Hardly pep talk for taking our, mankind’s, destiny into our hands.
The forces working in the opposite direction (war) seem overwhelmingly strong, our mass media constantly shows us examples of war (their logic is “good news is no news”), hordes of people around us say that voting is meaningless, “you cannot really change anything and peace is an impossible pipe dream for naive people”.
Is it any wonder that one turns fatalistic?
6) We think that peace-lovers are a weak minority.
Actually we are a majority but the “hawks” and the winners of war (those who profit by it) are strong, well organized, well financed, and armed to the teeth. They project a scary image — and we let ourselves be scared.
Some like to say that man is evil, but behind war and strife stands only a small negative minority. Why don’t we send off these guys and gals to a small planet where they can act out their war games without dragging the rest of humanity along with them?
However, for this we also need better, active citizens. Being a “voter” who votes every other year, maybe follows politics on TV, complains on Facebook about political decisions that don’t please him — that’s not enough. Enough to sustain status quo (and war), yes, but not enough for creating peace.
7) We turn to the wrong people for peace.
Peace work needs to be separated from politics. Peace is apolitical, utopian, win-win. Politics is win-lose, separatist, based on elimination.
Think about it. The repeatedly demonstrated talents of politicians are1) rhetorics (including dishonesty and downright lying), 2) putting part-, party-, partisan interest (or just ego) above the common good, 3) more or less common corruption and even criminality, and 4) war (direct and indirect).
Hoping that somehow peace will flower from such a mould, such a questionable domain, is a bit like entrusting a village of picturesque wooden houses to a pyromaniac. Wrong tool, wrong person for the job.
Peace is also not going to flower from the academic domain (too stiff, too much Inbox, to many rules and regulations), or from diverse organizations (too much conformist group-think and bureaucracy)
So who SHOULD we turn to? Maybe a new class of peace pilots, Jedis of peace who understand harmony, consonance and dissonance, found in abundant measure in music.
Innovation is a keyword, or catch-word, in many areas of life. We see it in technology, IT, communications, transportation, security, finance, green solutions, energy solutions, education, business models, medicine, music technology, etc. One can be forgiven for thinking that, if not the whole world, then at least all domains and spheres of life are into, or at least interested in innovation.
It doesn’t look like that to me.
I have been a “domainaut” in my life, traveled from one domain to another, acquainted myself with music (my first and original domain), philosophy and politics.
My latest domain is paxology, or peace work. And here — just as in politics where words and promises shine but reality lags behind, if it doesn’t totally contradict the words — I see a frightening lack of interest in innovation. Or let’s say thinking outside the box. Let’s make it even simpler and say “real thinking”.
Real thinking is different from just mouthing and repeating established phrases, ideas and memes. Unfortunately, in the peace domain I see overwhelmingly precisely this: old stuff, old professors, old words, old dusty phrases that have been repeated so many times that they now only illicit an attack of coughing. Ahchoo…!
This view is based on my personal experience of the peace domain, which I entered around two years ago in earnest. (Before that I actually worked in it without knowing it, namely in my musical-philosophical (“melosophic“) work. )
So far my experience of the peace domain has been negative. Yes, it could be a case of coming across non-typical features or having a statistically insignificant selections. Here, nevertheless are my current impressions, partly a private complaint, partly trying to get a birds eye’s view of the domain.
I set up my domain for The Venusian Peace project (you are reading it right now) around a year ago. I got myself a Twitter account and learned relevant hashtags for peace. I created a Facebook page and a YouTube account. It would be a mistake to call me an innovation-resistant Luddite.
That, however, seems to me as an apt term for the peace domain!
I am an independent researcher, doing original research, something I see very little of in the peace domain. Not only that, I don’t even see an interest in basic research. Which reminds me of the Wikipedia bias.
Peace people ask me: What is your peace activity? (“Activity” seems to be a central word here.) Do you arrange peace workshops, concerts, conferences, marches, festivals, tours, or print T-shirts?
This question is itself a warning sign. In domains where innovation is of genuine interest innovators are not asked to DO things, not in this crude sense. One understands that an innovator needs to sit as his desk, jot down notes, stare at the wall and contemplate strange clouds. That’s how innovations are born, out of thin air or the mental sea. As Paul Erdös said: “A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.”
This is much less understood in the peace domain where a kind of busy-body mentality reigns. There “activity” means something more than or different from mental activity.
My main work is mental, but unfortunately many folks don’t see that as activity at all. Thinking deep and long about the problems and possibilities of peace, its relation to war — and not least to music — is regarded as a kind of child’s play, a kind of nothing. (Of course it helps that I am not an academic but a freethinker.)
One must understand that an innovator is at work every working (and many a sleeping) hour of the day. He cannot be a 9 to 5 person, he needs to be receptive to insights at any hour. He can never say “Inspiration, come back at office hours!”. He may seem dreamily absent at his café table, but he does more substantial work than most paper-shuffling bureaucrats.
So my main activity is being mentally awake and probing and searching. One of the results of this is my “Peace map“, a model that not only throws light on peace but also indicates a path to better peace (and we need a much better peace concept than we currently have).
The rest of my work is trying to reach out and spread my findings, to “sell” them. On the main website pluriver.se, on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. I also sometimes answer questions about peace on Quora. The aim of all this digital, online work is of course to go analog, to reach out to non-virtual people, give talks, lecture tours, concerts, etc.
So far the sowing.
What has been my harvest so far, the reception of my research and innovation? (And forgive me here for being slightly personal, even rant-y.)
“Reception” is overstating things. It seems some people have read some of my texts. I have “likes”, maybe a few hundred on social media. My Twitter account has 14 followers. My three videos on YouTube have 44, 19 and 93 views respectively. I have one (1) patron on Patreon.
That’s a meager harvest.
Looking back on my political years (I’ve had 4-5 political parties of my own) the experience was interesting, and frustrating. Out of the different domains I’ve tried – music, philosophy, politics – politics was definitely the stiffest. A members only-club; Homo novus not invited.
Trying to get a hearing in politics was like trying to enter a club with big hulks guarding the door, enforcing a draconian (not dress but) thinking and speaking code (TASCO) — a code which I of course could not conform to.
When I think of politics I think of squares.
■ This is what politics is ■ ■ This is how politics is done ■ ■ This is the type of person we recognize as a “politician” ■
■■■ If you cannot accept and conform to this, go elsewhere! ■■■
Now if I were the Emperor of the world and wanted peace, wanted to know where to look for it, find the people most fitting for understanding, planning and achieving it, I sure wouldn’t turn to politicians, a group which has this incredibly long entry on Wikipedia:
To my regret I now find that the peace domain is not very different. Sure, it is “softer”, just as peace is supposedly softer than machine guns or drones (or money).
But soft is not automatically a virtue, soft can also be woolly and wishy-washy. For example, I find the following supposition (entertained by both laymen and professionals) to be precariously “soft”:
Peace is the work of 1) organizations and 2) politicians.
Politicians? What a blunder. Don’t expect the people who set fire to the building to put out the fire. That’s naive in the extreme. Or maybe one should say desperate; one does not know where else to go and who else to ask for help. Trapped in a small box…
The peace domain also seems to have guards. They might not enforce but at least recommend that you conform to the TASCO. Which I of course don’t, just as I didn’t conform to the political TASCO. I would be a poor free-thinker if I did.
Anyway, I’ve had a bit more success in the peace domain than in the political field.
I stumbled upon a small organization that seemed interested in my work. They have a kind of peace “bank” where I saw myself as a given, a good investment. I suggested that they take me in. There was some initial resistance, “we don’t really take in individuals, unless they are musicians or entertainers”.
(This also is a big mistake: relying on organizations for peace and discounting, not seeing the value of, individuals.
Organizations always suffer from the weakness of group-think and conformism, plus the closeness to politics. The hope for innovation and greatness — in art, music, philosophy, literature, science — always lies with the individual. Not understanding this is a blunder.)
Anyway, after some nudging I was allowed into the peace bank. I was given the title “peace promoter”. Of course I was that earlier, too, but now it was official.
I am out of the solitary closet, I thought. Finally there can ensue some dialogue, conversation, co-operation, a dynamic flow of energies to and fro. I looked forward to sharing my findings with more than 79 people, to lecture and spread my “Venusian” thoughts to interested paxological parties.
Well, dream on. The only thing that has changed is that I now have a formal title to add to my CV (which I never use). I continue my work, promoting peace my own solitary way, but who is promoting the promotor? Who wants to hear innovative thinking about peace?
Yes, I keep getting some “likes” for my posts on social media, but that’s as far as it goes. I feel like I’m in a non-violent Western: For a Few Likes More.
You can accuse me of being somewhat bitter here, and subjective. That’s fine. But there should be a place for submitting a complaint and, more importantly, point out the poor place innovation has in the peace domain — versus the elevated place it holds in many other domains (not in politics, obviously).
To put it mildly, there is no abundance of innovative, non-academic thinking about peace. Which brings us to a final, harsh, but I think just question:
Do people in the “peace movement” and workers in the peace domain really believe in peace? Do they really want to create peace? Are they prepared to think not only outside the bomb but also outside the established, dusty ideas and concepts about peace?
Or are they actually content with just going through the peace motions, which gives them a certain status, a certain idealistic aura, a certain pay, and simply something to do?
I sure hope that the answer to the last question is NO, but I am not sure of it.
I write this for those readers who are not that interested in the process I am describing but just want to hear my “conclusions”. Well, since conclusions, as the word indicates, mean closing, they are no favorites of mine. Enough doors, windows and minds are closed on Earth, we don’t need any more.
However, here is a kind of “abstract” of this text:
Peace is possibly not the opposite of war. War is both destructive and creative (during and in the wake of war, industry, innovation and creativity – if only of the killing kind – flowers). Peace is often neither destructive nor creative, more like a Ferdinand the Bull kind of stasis.
If we take peace to mean a kind of stasis (which many people seem to do) then, yes, that can be an opposite of war. If we however think of peace in a much more dynamic (“Venusian”) sense, peace becomes more like a middle stage, a harmonizing mean between extremes.
Thinking along these lines “peace” can be viewed through the filter of diverse models: The Eastern triune models of Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) and Tridosha (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas) but also meteorologically, i.e. as the harmonizing role of mid-latitude areas between the extremes of tropic and polar weather.
Rather exciting perspectives, if I may say so.
I have not worked on my peace map for a while, and sometimes non-thinking is the best way of thinking. When I ponder the map anew things have started to move.
Very broadly speaking my older map had war on the left side and peace on the right. You could call them black and white.
WAR>>>>> (grey)>>>>>>> CENTER >>>>>(grey)>>>>>>>> PEACE
In between you had a large, very important and neglected grey area, which is neither pure war nor peace. Here you find un-war, non-peace, war seeds, etc.
The grey area very much concerns the war that does not look like war, but which nevertheless is an important close relative to it. Music and the concepts of harmony-disharmony, consonance-dissonance, also enter the map.
But now I start to question some of my premises. For example the very obvious pair of opposites war-peace. Is peace really the opposite of war? (And let us not forget that there is peace and peace. Country music, Indian ragas and techno are all music, and all very different.)
Should peace and war be at the extremes of the map? Is peace somehow extreme…?
More and more I see peace in the very middle of the map.
War is still furthest to the left, but what should be in the right corner? Another, different extreme. Let’s call it stasis (inactivity, suspension, stagnation). Peace in the middle position then becomes a harmonious mix of action and stasis.
In the corners we have two kinds of disharmony: too much antagonism and too much conformism. I believe this is an important revision of my former model. Let’s call it Rev. 2.0 of peace in progress.
One imperfection of the former map was this:
In the middle — just to the right of center AGON — came what I call mirroring/ tuning / conformism, which is rather obviously something negative. Here individuality is lost and one blends into the mass, many examples are found in memetic aping of viral ideas and phrases. This is clearly unbalanced.
So we have a imbalance to the left (War) and an imbalance in the middle (mirroring). And then balance to the right…?
That sounds unbalanced. Better of course to have balance in the middle.
WAR >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> BALANCE <<<<<<<<<<<<STASIS
Other aspects of the “elephant”.
I am inspired to look at the peace-war dichotomy (if dichotomy it is) through the lens of the Indian model of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (trimurti) and Sattva, Rajas, Tamas (tridosha).
Keep the elephant-mode in mind: I don’t expect any of my models to mirror reality in full, but I do try to find models that capture an angle of the elephant well. In short, different models complement each other, plus it is good for man to be mobile and not get stuck in one viewpoint, ride just one hobby-horse.
I have also opened the door to a slightly unpalatable thought, namely that war creates jobs, opportunities and progress in many ways. I doesn’t only kill (Shiva) but also creates (Brahma). It allows new life to bloom by killing off the old, like removing weeds in gardening.
If war kills but also creates and allows new life, what then does peace do?
That question has a strange tinge to it, not least because we are working with such a poor concept of peace; vague, idealist on the verge of naive, dealing very much with absences, what is NOT (weapons), what does NOT happen (poverty, killing, oppression, etc.)
This prosaic, negative kind of peace — reminiscent of FTB (Ferdinand the Bull) who sat all day long under the cork tree and smelled the flowers — is in itself a peace problem: We don’t aim high enough, at a good enough kind of peace. It’s like talking about how fantastic and wonderful music is, and only listening to dixieland or recipe-based hit songs.
So let’s aim at a peace that is really balanced.
Remember, Venus and Libra (The scales) are all about balance and harmony. And balance means at least two components. Let’s talk music and call them consonance and dissonance.
Consonancein a broad sense means that things melt together easily, there is no or hardly no resistance, the process is streamlined, it’s like curling with no friction. Taste: sweet. Language: euphonious words and concepts that go with the grain.
Dissonance means friction. Here there is resistance, maybe even aversion. Things don’t flow easily. The taste is sour, salty or bitter; the words foreign and brush us the “wrong” way, against the grain.
The second category sounds less attractive than the first, but that’s in large part because we as a culture are weakened, spoiled, eat to much sweets. In the restaurant and gastronomy we understand the need for spices; too little salt is almost as bad as too much.
We also well understand the need for dissonance in sports. If contestants tried to please their opponents, the audience would cry BOO! and protest. In sports we want opposition, challenge, even harshness. AGON, to use that old word.
Consonance alone is bland and boring, at least after a while. It is unbalanced by itself.
The second component, dissonance, is harsh and violent. It lacks calm, rest, and the familiarity of safe boredom. It is also unbalanced by itself.
Consonance and dissonance in a good proportion however is the peace doctor’s orders. It satisfies hunger on many levels. Action and stasis combine to create HARMONY.
So far harmony. How then should we think about disharmony? Let me suggest: either as a poor relationship between action and stasis, or overdose of either.
Woolly conformism, people mouthing the same dusty cliches over and over is disharmonious, even though consonant. It may not be unpleasant however; it is a kind of disharmony that is easily accepted.
Dissonant violence is accepted in certain strict forms (sports, for example) but is otherwise looked down upon. At least in theory. In practice we have diverse forms of entertainment and punishment that entails violence, plus our (un)justified wars where young men are ordered to kill other young men for the greater glory of national, religious or business interests.
The terrain (the elephant) is not simple and unequivocal; much depends on where and from which height we observe things.
There is for example a strong peace-element in war, namely within an army. In the unit of an army you want total, mutual harmony between the parts, military language must be precise and correct, etc. Nevertheless the final aim might still just be plunder, reputation augmentation and national chauvinism.
What then is the war element in peace? One could of course say demonstrations that turn violent. Personally I think the dynamic, active (war) element in peace is too small. That is a great weakness of our current Ferdinand the Bull-model. FTB-peace is too passive, negative, sentimental, consonant, too hung up on tired catchwords that are so dusty that they make us sneeze.
Oh, yeah? Never heard that one before.
So my current suspicion in this peace mapping in progress is that the opposite of war is not peace but stasis / stagnation / bland consonance.
But stop a second! That — stasis / stagnation / bland consonance — is very close to how many people, pros and laymen, see peace! As a kind of huge relaxation. War is over; fighting is over; let’s put down our weapons and relax, enjoy ourselves, let our hair down, watch more TV, do more Facebook and computer games, turn obese.
That’s not my Utopia. My Utopia consists of an improved, upgraded kind of peace. Venusian peace, in contrast to the Ferdinand the Bull-variety, is not the opposite of war. Balanced peace should embrace opposites, not BE an opposite.
Or rather, if peace equals harmony then its opposite is disharmony, which is something else than mere dissonance.
As you can hear, this is an invitation to immerse ourselves in musical thinking. That should be a very good peace investment.
One final angle of the peace-elephant.
As far as I understand, in meteorology one divides the Earth into three broad horizontal (latitudinal) regions. The outer, cold polar regions and the inner hot tropic region seem like extreme phases of Yin and Yang.
But between the hot tropic and cold polar regions we find the mid-latitude regions, which have a tempering, harmonizing effect. They serve as a bridge between extremes which, without this go-between, would be too different from each other [as war vs. stasis], too incomprehensible to each other [as boxer vs. bookworm].
Is peace perhaps a mid-latitude thing?
Of course as a musician I come to think of a Harmonilehre, the art of gracefully dissolving dissonances but also of adding enough dissonance so that music doesn’t turn into a sleeping pill.
Herbert Whone was a fine man, musician and writer. I corresponded with him, mainly about his book The hidden face of music back in the 80-s, I think. In my own quest to find “the hidden face of music” I even visited him in Harrogate and have fond memories of our talks and him giving me a private tour of Fountains Abbey.
I still remember the details about the monks and the prohibition against ONE (the cup had TWO ears, the monks walked in TWO rows, etc.) and his description of dinner at the Abbey. One would imagine that food would be served and eaten in silence. However, in so called silence many wayward thoughts enter our mind. To hinder that, the brother with the best voice sat high up on a ledge and read from some holy book during meal.
And once a month, the other brothers prayed for him, so that we would not, Narcissus-like, fall in love with his own voice. Such prayers have relevance even today. Did I say “even”? I meant much more relevance today.
Anyway, the other day I stumbled upon a site dedicated to Herbert, who now resides in another dimension. (And here is a vita of the man. ) The site presents some of his paintings, photographs and poems. (He was not only a musician and writer.)
Among the poems I found, expressed in a poem, something I’ve been preaching in prose: that being better than what we criticize, seeing the war-seed in ourselves, is an essential step to real peace. It felt good to be in harmony with Herbert in this way, too.
As with all worthwhile poetry, read this aloud. I mean, a musician wrote it. Yes, coming clean and seeing the “soldier” and the war-seeds in ourselves is an important step for all peaceniks.
When we well know that the most important scientific inventions, philosophical breakthroughs and musical or literary masterpieces have all come from individuals – from a Leonardo, Einstein, Beethoven, Goethe – why then do we believe that peace, one of the most difficult things on Earth, is going to be created by committee?
My reason for saying this: I have been domain-traveling throughout my life. My starting point was and is music, a wonderful domain, much more valuable and precious then most of us understand.
Then philosophy, a so-so domain. After that politics, a real stiff one.
And now paxology, peace work, peace research. I’ve been at it now for around three years and what I see makes me confused, disappointed and frankly scared. There is so much muddiness in this domain, so much surface — empty phrases, gestures, cliches and thinking inside the box.
Much feel-good, not much think-good. As somebody put it: peace is about releasing captive white doves by political leaders.
There is also an underlying premise that peace is the job of groups, committees and organizations. Not individuals.
I don’t know where this view comes from and frankly don’t much care. What I do know is that this goes against the insight that breakthroughs and masterpieces never come from groups or organizations. Always from solitary, isolated, not seldom ridiculed individuals. Why should the situation be different when it comes to peace?
In this most difficult of tasks, Groups — until now inert, square and predictable — (supposedly) suddenly bloom and reach genius level, become innovative and find brand new paths. Do we really believe that?
If not, why don’t we look in new, fresh directions?
The peace domain is like Wikipedia that says “No thanks!” to original research.
Of course I am talking about my own work here, no denying it. I have in my relatively short time in the peace domain contributed valuable, innovative material – that nobody seems to be interested in. I guess it feels… unaccustomed and different.
— “War seeds”, musical peace map, Agon and antagonism… what IS all that about? It’s not our usual fare. Vive la similarité.
Meanwhile, many other domains, like the business sphere for example, are SCREAMING for innovation! Yes, much of it is lip-service; what one really wants is a new look or vogue, a new viral term, a hip new costume — but at least one is screaming. It’s a start.
I wish there was more screaming, shouting and excitement in the peace domain. As it is, it reminds me of this picture.
Am I saying that peace should be conducted as business? Not really. Maybe as its opposite, as WAR.
War is a by and large a very efficient affair. In spite of obvious blunders it aims at precision; logistics are of prime importance; goals and targets are well defined. Language is highly efficient in order to avoid mistakes, semantic clarity is essential to avoid ambiguities which can have fatal consequences, Roger that!
War hires (and pays) the best brains; just look at the Manhattan project where more than a dozen Nobel prize winners were involved. (How many Nobel prize winners are working on building peace…?) There are huge amounts of money in war and innovation is constant; always there are new and more streamlined ways of killing our fellow man.
All this is the opposite of the peace domain, where vagueness is okay, where we don’t even need a definition. It’s not really important to pinpoint it, everybody knows what peace is anyway… Perhaps. Until they are asked to define it.
On the other hand, even a small child in the street can basically tell you what “war” is! Imagine the military reasoning in the same vague way.
Ready guys? Let’s fire off some of these old rockets in about THAT direction, give and take a few miles, in the next day or two. We THINK the bad guys are somewhere around that corner. God willing we might actually hit some of them, and hopefully not as many of our own people as last time.
That would be a bad joke, but that is what happens in the peace domain. No precision, no hardcore thinking, no innovation. Just a predictable collection of second-hand phrases and goals that are inherited from other eras, other peace organizations.
Maybe I am too harsh, but we do need more harsh now, and less cuddly feel-good. Peace needs precision. Clarity is a precursor of peace.
We need blueprints like this.
Laser guided peace, anyone?
All of this has to do with another big, unacknowledged problem. Namely that very few people (I mean individuals) get truly excited about peace.
–Yes, peace is something fine, lofty and very IMPORTANT; but right now we want to watch that cool YouTube video and an action movie. But we DO wish the peace organizations all the luck!
This distanced, lukewarm, not my table-attitude is not helpful. If war, at least in its sublimated forms (sports, contests, competition, debates, etc.) is SO MUCH MORE interesting and exciting (and fun) than peace, then of course peace is going to remain dutiful committee work, nothing for individuals to be excited about and engage themselves in.
This is the reason I talk about a specific variant of peace, namely Venusian Peace.
Peace that is not just absence (of war, conflict, poverty, killing) but has actual positive content. Namely the qualities associated with Venus: art, beauty, harmony, music, balance, love.
None of that is boring, none of that is created by committees. Sometimes by composers.
Shut up! or Let’s talk An interview with Peace of Cake
(Peace of Cake is an underground peace gorilla, I mean peace guerrilla organization that rang me up to get the perspective of the Venusian Peace Project.)
Peace of Cake: Hello. What would you like to say to people who really want peace in the world today?
LH: Don’t underestimate the task. Creating peace is not an easy, feel-good kind of thing. Peace has powerful enemies.
I know, the military industrial complex.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You must look much farther if you want to know what you are up against. First, you have an inner enemy in this respect. We all have war seeds within us that do NOT want peace.
Then, we have the collective sphere around us. Few people will say that they desire war, but they probably want to hang on to their war seeds, war games. In order to really work for peace, you need to understand yourself, war and peace within yourself. Not just outside, which is often a simple game of finger-pointing. Finger-pointing is what keeps war going.
Are you talking about inner peace here?
Another term that we don’t really know what it is. What is inner peace?
I guess.. it is when you feel harmony between you and the outer world and maybe also within you.
Maybe there are too many maybe’s here. I suspect that outer peace (national, international peace) and inner peace are only related semantically. Same word means different things. Because how long does your inner peace stay? An hour, two days…?
Well, if I had inner peace for two days, that would be great!
So it comes and goes. Usually that is the case. We feel peace for a while, then it goes away and a new actor comes on stage. Maybe hunger, excitement, irritation or boredom. Bye bye, inner peace!
And another thing: Where does inner peace come from?
Hard to say. Things just manage to flow, everything is in the right place at the right time.
Have you created this flow?
No, I cannot claim that.
So it comes and goes by itself?
More or less so, yes.
A very popular saying or cliche is “Peace starts with the individual”. But where does it end? Well, maybe it just ends, somewhere.
We cannot talk about inner and outer peace as somehow equivalent. Imagine a country where you have war for an hour or two, then you get bored and hungry, maybe watch some TV, then war breaks out again for a day or two. Also, nobody really knows why war breaks out, what causes it to start or stop. This is not an acceptable situation in a country, village, family, company. You need more structure and stability than that.
Also in this strange country where war comes and goes according to weird winds, individuals might feel inner peace now and then, also without knowing why and where it comes from.
This to me is is a picture of some kind of insanity or mental instability, not peace.
OK, I see that we perhaps need to look at our terms a little closer.
Why not much closer? Peace is not rocket science, but it wouldn’t hurt if we got our thinking act together a bit more.
So if the military industrial complex is the tip of the iceberg, what’s underneath the waters then?
Good question! Such questions lead forward. There is a very very basic thing to consider when it comes to peace, wanting peace, desiring and working for peace, namely the difference between outer and inner. Are we mainly or only (very common) outer directed — or also inner directed?
In many if not most instances we are just happy to be outer directed.
What exactly do you mean by outer directed?
Looking at YOU! What you / him / her / they are doing. Observing, studying, criticizing others, from our secure position behind a screen, a shelter or trench.
And inner directed?
You look at yourself, your own hands, your face in the mirror. You measure your own acts against some kind of standard or yardstick. This is not that hard, often we just forget to do it. Or the very idea is so far from us and our culture that it never happens. This has a name: introspection, to look in the inner mirror.
And this is not something abstract or “philosophical”. It means remembering that you want peace, that peace is more important than war, and that it has a price.
Among other things we need to PAY attention. Attention can uncover for us that if we see something wrong or bad in another, answering in kind is not going to create peace. Just a circle of more mutual criticism.
Whenever WE are attacked or criticized we naturally want to defend ourselves. But we often do this by striking back, perhaps even harder than we got hit. That will make our opponent angry, so next time he might strike us even harder. And so, as the song goes, the beat goes on. The reflexes keep kicking.
This is so traditional, common and habitual that we hardly reflect on it. We believe we can reach harmony by being just as bad.
Can you give an example.
“Hate hate!” That’s is so silly and counterproductive.
Give me a practical advice, not just theories.
Take pen and paper and write a list. Think about your actions in everyday life. Ask yourself: what situations and people “light my war fire”? Or: when can I not resist the invitation to fight, the word taken in a broad sense? Know thyself, know your war seeds.
That was practical.
One more thing. Note when you are invited in a conversation, and when you are not. Two different modes. There are even specific words that I call Shut-up words. Their function is to stop further thinking, maybe make you ashamed.
“Racist”, “sexist”. Also such an innocuous term as “structure” has become Shut-up! As in “the structural oppression of the patriarchy”, a phrase that we are supposed to accept as gospel truth, not as a viewpoint or ideological formula.
The implication is that we all know what such words mean, and we all know they are bad. Thus, no need for thinking more about them. Just feel ashamed! Or make somebody else ashamed with them. Whatever you do, don’t listen!
Listening is the other mode. I call it “Let’s talk”. Which also means, let’s listen .-)
Shut-up! and Let’s talk. I will try to be more aware of these modes. Thank you.
I just realized that I have talked and written a lot about war seeds, the impulse in our heart towards conflict, fighting and polarization.
Yes, I think it is important to see that war and battle is not just something outside us. However, in pointing that out one could say that I myself have committed the “sin” of finger-pointing (which I claim to be a main part of war).
So what then? Let me also talk about the Dos and not just the Don’ts. Love seeds, peace seeds, where do we find them, how to water them? How to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive?
I feel like I should come up with a list of “positives”, things to read, see, eat, do and hear that nurtures our peace and love seeds. I admit that much effort and concentration has been directed towards the left (war) side.
So this is what comes to me in this moment. Generally, search love seeds in the analog world. And put a good distance between you and media. The digital sphere, mass media and social media sometimes seems like a monster that eats our time, attention and souls.
So log out and look up at the sky. Even on a cloudy day it is grander than Facebook or email.
I would also like to recommend something to read, and that’s a tricky one. Because books, writing, is anchored in words, and words move in a dualistic domain. There is always an opposite for a word. Bad versus good, big and small, beautiful and ugly, young and old. There are books that go beyond this mirror-image, opposites attract and repel mode. but they must we found. They might not be what we think they are.
Generally I feel that writing that truly waters our peace seeds should have no thorns. That doesn’t mean “nice”, feel-good writing without dissonance, but accusation and blame should be absent.
It is perfectly possible to tell somebody they are acting like an idiot while truly loving them. Possible, but not easy. A small art, actually, that we can try to practice in our communications. Because we need both parts, the honest, true thought, and the kind, loving concern. When these marry we have sweet (not saccharine) music.
Talking of music, what said Shakespeare? Music is the food of love. Music waters our love and peace seeds. Listen to music and try to recognize the thorns. There is music that embraces you, hugs you and calls you “darling”. Try to find that music, and stick with it. At least don’t neglect it. That would make you a poor gardener.
ABSTRACT: This is no scientific article but it sill feels right to start with the conclusion.
Global peace, world peace can mean different things. The world of a single human being is also at war at times.
If one wants to help peace, if one has made a decision to abstain from the mental-emotional junk food of Conflict, there are different steps to take.
Ideally one wants to be somebody who cannot hurt others. That is a high goal, which is not a reason not to aim for it. I call that “ahimsa” (Sanskrit for harmlessness).
The step before that, easier and more available, is non-violence. One step at a time we might arrive at peace.
As I wrote earlier I now call myself peace walker. That does not mean a state but an ambition: to really walk the talk of peace.
And talking of talk, let’s look at a very common saying in the peace sphere.
“Peace starts with the individual.”
I don’t like phrases that both 1) sound good and 2) don’t have a clear meaning. This phrase qualifies for both categories. If we want to go beyond mouthing vague feel-good phrases we should have distinct follow up questions.
In what way does the peace of the individual lead to a larger peace?
What kind of individual peace are we talking about?
What does peace mean to the individual?
Let’s have clear answers to those questions and I might agree with that statement. But just spreading nice-sounding memes about is of no help.
My strong belief is that clarity is a precursor of peace, so let’s think clearly. Here’s my view of how peace might/ could start with the individual.
As I have written in so many texts we humans have something that I call “war seeds” in our hearts. It is only the name that is original, the observation isn’t.
Under the right (wrong) circumstance we can easily catch fire, become angry, and verbally or physically attack each other. Look at sports, football for example, and how this gentlemanly game can turn into violent hooliganism and even killing.
This is what I term war seeds in bloom.
Seeds can be choked, dried up, not watered. Or watered a lot, which leads from sports (Agon =battle, trial of strength) to Antagonism and then Agony, then outright war.
So what can the individual do against this development, this flowering of war seeds? He can look after his own garden, keep an eye on his own weeds.
Let me be much less abstract and describe how I, a soi-disant peace walker, try to handle this. First, some coordinates.
You who are reading this of course know about non-violence. It is called ahimsa in Sanskrit.
Here I want to distinguish two gradations, nonviolence in a more Western sense versus Ahimsa. In my interpretation non-violence (civil resistance, etc.) is what somebody DOES, while ahimsa refers to what he IS (his being).
Ahimsa is obviously the higher goal, admittedly a very high goal. However, it seems important to aim higher than just non-violence. Even if you chain yourself to a tree to passively to resist police arrest you might still have many much war seeds (anger, frustration, hate) in your heart. You just don’t act them out (perhaps because you are chained?).
I don’t want to belittle non-violence. That would be stupid and unrealistic. Non-violence in general is much better than violence, giving in to antagonistic impulses and feeding our belligerent impulses . But let us also see that non-violence only refers to our actions, not to our feelings and thoughts. Our hand is peaceful and passive, but not necessarily our mind and heart.
That said, non-violence is an important step towards ahimsa. We will not get there without non-violence.
A very practical example: Let us say that I have written something on Facebook about a subject on which people have “strong feelings”. (Those words indicate presence of war seeds.) Some people agree with me, some don’t and one person really lashes out against me.
What do I do in that case?
I have a martian element within me, too. I see the impulse to strike back, say something harsh “but just” (as one is tempted to call it). But since I am a peace walker I cannot just go with the downward flow.
If I had attained ahimsa I might give a wise, loving and totally non-polarizing reply. Right now I cannot. But I CAN be non-violent.
In the spur of the moment I can’t write a balanced reply, my seeds are too agitated; I am too angry and irritated.
I see two courses from there.
1) To just ignore it and turn my back. That is a rather classic way to respond. For some people that might be the best response, personally I see that a turn-your-back-to-it response contains an element of self-fear.
“I am afraid of what I might say to that person…”
2) The other response is the break, which in effect means slowing down.
Everybody understands that the break pedal is important, nay, essential in a car. Imagine all the catastrophes that would happen without it. We also have the folk wisdom of counting to ten when we fall into the clutches of Master Anger.
Counting is like stepping on the brake. It slows down our adrenaline reaction, turns off the water supply to the war seed.
Here’s how I step on the brake: I copy the message on Facebook, go offline and read it in peace and quiet.
An important reason for this has to with perceptive clarity. It is not a great discovery to say that a message, for example 3-4 sentences in a comment online, is often not really grasped.
What is really being said,and in what relation do I stand to it?
These questions never emerge, don’t even exist, in a heated discussion. I probably will react with a reflex, a knee-jerk, and reply something not worthy of a peace walker.
Note here that this slowing down CAN also be part of a very different process, namely showing off, demonstrating how smart and intelligent we are. The goal then is to deliver a mental blow, a “crushing reply”. That does not rhyme with peace walking.
The peaceful aim should be to 1) understand what the other person really is saying 2) understand how I as a peace walker want to relate to it. Then my reply, if I still feel that I want to reply, will come from a very different part of me, a part of the garden where the war seeds do not bloom, at least not profusely.
No, I have not attained ahimsa, the non-ability to hurt. I still have within me the attraction to conflicts and polarization, but at least I have localized my break pedal. Now it becomes a question of remembering to use it.
In this way peace can “start with the individual”.
Realistically it might not go anywhere from there; it might also remain in the individual, although I think that every person who waters his peace seeds will send out positive waves. So I change my mind on that; I think inner peace will have an effect on outer world.
Whether it can influence world events is another question.
Also one can ask how many peaceful individuals does it take to change the light bulb of war? The TM (transcendental meditation) people claim that a certain number of meditators change the collective atmosphere for the better, thus lowering crime rate for example.
That’s interesting but too often dismissed by “rational” people with irrational reflexes who see red before words like homeopathy or meditation. Who walk, as so many of us are, on the Small War Path; the path of martian conflict and polarization enjoyment.
The path of Venusian peace tries to balance that.
PS: Of course the example with Facebook takes place in the digital domain. Other rules apply for handling war seeds face to face.
[If you value this, please fund with a dollar on Patreon. Thank you.]