Polarization, an enemy of peace

When  thinking about peace and war, the impulse towards one or the other, the direction we choose to walk in, I have arrived at this strong suspicion:

Polarization is one of the main obstacles to peace.

Polarization = stressing differences, almost nurturing differences so that tension builds up and we can fight (one of Homo sapiens’ favorite, if not admitted, activities).

The expression “unity in diversity” points to two aspect of the question.

Diversity affirms variation, difference, individuality, being who YOU are, not just being a clone or imitation of somebody else.

Unity concerns the possibility and impulse towards, yes, unity. Listening to each other, trying to understand each other and moving in the same positive direction in spite of our differences, even with the help of our different perspectives.

Both factors can lead to or away from harmony.

Too much diversity makes us dense egotists who does not understand that there is enjoyment, fun and gain in doing things together. (This realization is very much present in music making. Play and sing more together!)

To much unity can turn into boring, tyrannical, Big Brother conformism, making people small, identical cogs in a big smog-producing industrial machine. It can also turn us into all too predictable middle of the road kind of people who cannot handle differences in thought, feeling or skin color (in spite of mouthing “vive la difference” and similar phrases).

Luckily there is a middle ground which is not “middle of the road” but a golden mean: Unity in diversity.
We need to see these two unbalanced impulses realistically. The third, attraction to the golden mean, is probably the weakest of them all. That is what peace walkers need to water.

We enjoy conflicts too much. We might not call them conflicts but it is the emotional energy that counts. 

Look at what media are feeding us with, and how we gulp it down. Scandals, sensations, crises, debates (comes from the word for strike or hit), sports (a win-lose domain), politics, wars.

If Man is a musical instrument (and he is) media are playing Allegro Barbaro on him. The music that comes from our soundboard when watching somber, dark, violent and quarreling news, is somber, dark, violent and quarreling.

We cannot only blame media. If nobody watched all this, it would not be broadcast.  We actually enjoy  almost being glued to the violence spewing tube.

When we recognize and admit our enjoyment of conflict and polarization we also see that it goes against our impulse for peace, that harmonization and polarization  are two very different things.

But conflict is not all.

We also enjoy the other extreme, conformism, too much. We derive much satisfaction from articulating what in our circle is considered “right” opinions, “right” thinking. A million flies can’t be wrong, neither can twenty friends.

These twenty friends, however, may not really be in tune with each other. Maybe they just enjoy the cozy feeling of being in a group, the warm sensation of not being alone in their opinion.

This kind of self-deception can be marginal and of no importance. It can also be  very serious and create a kind of sticky mental atmosphere where any kind of divergence or difference is viewed as a mistake, even treachery.

Safety in numbers. All together now!

Conveniently enough we often move between these extremes, sometimes enjoying the martial energy of violent conflict, sometimes the warm, cuddly reassurance of thinking alike. 

But as the proverb say: Extremes are neighbors. The real opposite here is balance.

In that direction, as far as I can see, lies harmony. That is, peace.

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