For millennia, philosophers, religious thinkers and political activists have written about and demonstrated for ‘peace’ and decried war. Yet a ‘philosophy’ of peace is still in its infancy. And while theorists, strategists, tacticians and planners of war and ‘security studies’ dominate both the academy and the halls of power, philosophers who profess and march for peace do so outside the mainstream philosophical curriculum, far removed from those with the power to make and enforce important political decisions, and often to the dismay and castigation of their more colleagues.
Perhaps ‘peace’ is like ‘happiness’,‘justice’,‘health’ and other human ideals, something every person and culture claims to desire and venerate, but which few if any achieve, at least on an enduring basis. Why are peace, justice and happiness so desirable, but also so intangible an delusive? But perhaps peace is diﬀerent from happiness, since it seems to require social harmony and political enfranchisement, whereas happiness appears, at least in Western culture, to belargely an individual matter.
Spiritual and religious leaders from the Buddha and Jesus to Gandhi and the Dalai Lama have been inclined to equate peace and love, both in their inner dimensions and in the manner in which people who are spiritually developed interact with others, most acutely with those who may hate and envy them.
Many philosophical, religious and cultural traditions have referred to peace in its ‘positive’ sense. Peace is dialectical. In this world, peace is neither a timeless essence – an unchanging ideal substance– nor a mere name without a reference, a form without content. Peace is also not the mere absence of war in a Hobbesian world of unending violent conﬂict.Peace is both a means of personal and collective ethical transformation and an aspiration to cleanse the planet of human-inﬂicted destruction.
‘Peace on earth’ might in fact be unachievable, at least for a sustained period of time.That does not invalidate the struggle to achieve a world with greater justice and equity and without violence, or at least with signiﬁcantly less violence, injustice and inequity. On the contrary, the nonviolent struggle to liberate humanity from its means of self-destruction and self-enslavement is its own end.
Terror and terrorism, however, are incompatible with peace, peacemaking and the struggle to pacify existence. As I have argued elsewhere, terrorism is a dual phenomenon, a tactic used by states (terrorism from above) and by non-state actors (terrorism from below) to induce fear in terrorized people for the purpose of inﬂuencing another, less vulnerable, population, such as government oﬃcials .
First, the focus is on peace, a relation between parties, not on security. Second, peace depends on transformation of another relation between parties, conﬂict. And,the opposite of peace, violence, is seen as the outcome of un-transformed conﬂict. Third, for conﬂict transformation we need transcendence, going beyond the goals of the parties. Fourth, whereas classical mediation brings parties together for negotiation and compromise,the TRANSCEND approach starts with one party at a time, in deep dialogue, and in a jointcreative search for a new reality.
Fifth, there is more to this than mediation. The approach is holistic, with a dynamic process model relating conﬂict and peace. So we need insight in the past for diagnosis, and in the future for prognosis and therapy.We need description for diagnosis and prognosis, and prescription for therapy. And we need a counter factual therapy of the past.