When as adults, wesee our child in a fist fight with another child over something, we intervene and help them understand that probably fist-fighting wasthe not the most appropriate solution to whatever the situation was. At thesame time, when we look at our mutual problems, which are more complex, we tendto forget to practice what we preach. From time to time we, intelligent andmature adults, fail to handle problems, disagreements and conflicts in themost appropriate way. And like the two fighting kids, we too get focused on winning without thinking of the consequences of that victory. Sometimes, that victory or efforts towards it, ruin a relationship. At a macro level, it escalates into wars. Can we as honestly say that nothing could have prevented the bloodshed of our fellow human beings? There are always peace options but desire for quick conquest overpowers the efforts for a meaningful collective victory. Let us build a case for eliminating or substantially reducing wars from our society by looking at: cost benefit analysis, finding common grounds andshared vision.
Wars affect the economy bothpositively and negatively. On one side, many make big profits on weaponryproduction, contracting and construction. Some local people are recruited for these activities and are able tomake money. But these profits do not reach the majority of the population. On the other side, anation looses money in investing on the training, equipments,maintenance of the troops and other requirements. In the war zones, thedevastation and loss of infrastructure incurs major damage to the economy formany years to come. With (a) thousands of people losing their livelihoods, (b)hundreds of acres of land polluted with mines, and (c) current and futureworkers impaired physically and mentally, there is a much bigger cost to paythan any profit wars may bring to the global economy.
Those who advocate that wars will lead to some kind of well being to specific countries and/groups must analyze the potential benefits of any waragainst the cost being paid. Cost of the current wars around the world is (a)immeasurable resources, (b) hundreds of thousands of lives (c) physical,psychological and social wounds, (d) destruction and devastation in affectedareas, (e) future adverse effects of wars such as unexploded ordnances andfinally (f) increased hatred, which may lead to several other conflicts. Whatbenefits are worth of this price? Can an ideology be truthfully promoted atthis cost?
Finding Common Grounds
Since the cultural/ethnic filters amongst nations/groups are very different from each other, there will be conflicts but we needto change the ways of conflict resolution. When we begin to lookbeyond our cultural filters and linguistic interferences, deep inside all societiesadvocate for forgiveness, peace and love. The holy Quran says, “Inthe name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate”. Jesus was not advocating for revengeand hatred when he said, “Whoever hitsyou on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat,do not withhold your shirt from him either”. The DalaiLama posits love and compassion arenecessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Buddha said,“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. Rabbi Menachem Mendle said, “Our only way out is tolearn compassion without cause. To care for each other simply because that ‘other’exists”. Mahatma Gandhi objectedto violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; theevil it does is permanent.
We cannot to start aprocess of coming together until we forgive, accept and empathize with eachother. It would be easier to find common grounds if we look at common needs. Inorder to find common grounds we need to (a) refine and use our diplomaticskills more than ever, (b) negotiate while respecting each other’s leadership(c) utilize a collaborative processes for creative problem solving, (d) be flexible and (e) where agreeing is not possible, agree todisagree deferentially. Assiduous dialoguing isessential to reach a mutually acceptable pact for parties involved. Focusof such processes must be the ‘issues’ and 'people'. In addition, agreements are sustainable only if they are understood and acceptable at thegrassroots. A bottom-up approach is recommended to set the framework fornegotiations. Both communities and governments have significant roles in peace-building and sustaining peace.
Let’s take a moment tovisualize that all the resources, power and wisdom that is being spent on warsaround the world is diverted to feeding the hungry, providing shelters to thehomeless, giving appropriate health care to the sick and bringing smiles tofaces covered with dirt and wet with tears. I recognize that no matterhow beautiful this vision is, it not practical and probably cannot be realizedin a short span of time. However, as responsible citizensof the world we must try to move towards this vision. Especially, now, whenmany players in the world are equipped with Nuclear weapons. We cannot continueto risk our future. Recently, a young graphic designer in a conversationexpressed his fear about a potential nuclear war. He said, “If the worldleaders do not learn to negotiate and there is a nuclear war, the world would goback to stone age”. His fear is not based on any research but is importantbecause it represents the fear of thousands of youth around theworld. In today’s age ofglobalization, where there is much greater interdependence between States, itis the best time ever to develop a shared vision. Whether rich or poor states, developed, developing orunder-developed countries, all hold overlapping dreams that can constitute ashared vision, such as (a) Economic prosperity and international tradeopportunities, (b) Freedom to serve God according to local traditions, (c)Opportunities for optimum growth and development for children, and (d) Wellbeing, respect and independence. It might be difficult and painstaking but itcan be done.
World leaders, before you decide for another war, I request you to think about what do you want to leave for your great grandchildren, ruins because of nuclear weapons or opportunities that come through peace and prosperity.