Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | February 1, 2009

How Evil Really Prevents Peace

I wrote this in my journal back in July of 2005, but I think this blog is also a good place for it:

Instead of thinking of things in terms of good and evil, I think it would be more useful if people would think in terms of a continuum of connection and separation.  Things that cause separation and divisions between groups of people are what lead to conflict and negative consequences.  Increasing person-to-person, group-to-group, and person-to-God connections moves us toward the perfection of the world.  Causing separation in any of those categories moves all of us further away.  The very concept of evil itself is a force for separation.  It allows one group to characterize everyone in another group with that one simple term.  Once that label is in place, it is a significant hindrance to forming any intergroup connections.  People seem unable and/or unwilling to go beyond making everything into a simple dichotomy – right vs. wrong, us vs. them, rich vs. poor, black vs. white, pro-choice vs. pro-life, Democrat vs. Republican, and everyone wants to end up with a clear winner and a clear loser.  But there are no answers to be found within that way of thinking, only polarization and separation.  For there to be peace in the world, there will somehow have to reach a critical mass of people whose goal is connection instead of “winning”.  Peace cannot be achieved by winning, because there is no winner without a loser, and the loser will never accept that position long-term.

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Responses

  1. I think this idea is great. In fact we, over at activephilosohpy, believe that dualistic (multi-istic, is that even a word?) thinking is really the way to go. Why be/thinm one thing when you can be two things or many things? Also I completely agree with the idea of a continuum rather than dichotomy when it comes to common labels that we have given ourselves. The famous saying, “love is only a thin line from hate,” really tells us that anything that we lend to like to make opposite are really just two things somewhere on the same spectrum of one thing.

    Furthermore, we are really honing in on a key issue for developing a better world; we need to break down barriers between people and celebrate our commonality as humans. However, this needs to be done carefully, as personal identity is also important to preserve. I recently watched a BBC documentary called the Century of the Self (it’s four, one hour segments and available on google video). In it they describe a social experiment (can’t remember the name, but I think its in part 3), where they had african-americans sit down with anglo-americans to discuss (very directly) issues of race relations. The goal of the project was to break down the false institution of race, but (partly because it was organized by white people), the african american participants rejected it, because they felt it was an attempt to take away the one thing that whites didn’t have, their identity of being african american.

    The whole point is that we can develop differences and a unique (or grouped) sense self, but we must not let that be a defining factor that makes any one person or group “better.” I guess what I am trying to say, is that it is very important that we are given the opportunity to develop our own identity, so long as we don’t think of our group as having an absolute sense of ‘quality’ to it.


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