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06.10.2020 – Gianmarco Pisa

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Taking Action for Peace

Is it not appropriate to devote a few minutes of our time to a careful and reflective reading of the latest thematic contribution by Jan Oberg, which the Centro Studi Sereno Regis conveniently published on 25 September 2020 with the title “The Lost Discourse on Peace and the Arts as a
Possible Way Out”? Jan Oberg is not new to studies and reflections with such a profile: co-founder of the Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research (TFF), one of the most solid international entities in the field of action research for peace, inspired by the Galtunghian motto
of the construction of “peace by peaceful means”, Jan Oberg is a lecturer of Peace Studies, a professor at the University of Lund, former director of the Lund University Peace Research Institute (LUPRI) and in the past also a member of the Security and Disarmament Committee of the Danish Government. An expert in action research, he has been involved in peace initiatives and mediation in former Yugoslavia, Georgia, Burundi, Iraq and Syria.

This the background on which in the “short essay” mentioned above he asks himself (and asks us in a broad sense, as the community of peacemakers and worldwide public opinion) a couple of major questions. It is better to review them, in order to extract the nucleus and bring reflections
to light. First question: the disappearance of “peace”. This is his opening reflection and is, at the same time, the knot with which for decades the forces and the protagonists of the movement of movements and, in particular, the movements for peace and against war find themselves faced
with: “the discourse on peace or for peace has mostly disappeared in the last 20-30 years. It applies to research, and its non-governmental financing possibilities, to politics in general and the media. In foreign and security policy, the intellectual level is now such that it does not at all seem strange to the decision makers to never seek advice on peace or consult peace experts. The fanciful hypothesis is that only if there are sufficient military “security means” applied to enough problems of society, will peace then be automatically established.”

This is a timely and pertinent observation which represents the real current condition, but whose roots should be studied in depth. “Militarization” has become increasingly a deep, structural dimension of the ways in which social relations and the public arena are organized:
capitalism, patriarchy and militarism increasingly assert themselves as aspects of the same dynamic, a structural dynamic, which inevitably ends up also generating radical cultural impacts, in perception and in aspiration, in the ‘imaginaries’ and in the so-called “styles of thinking”. Not only has the military approach become and continues increasingly to be the fundamental and essential approach in international relations and in international disputes (we only need to think of migration policies and the continuous, even obsessive, association of the term “migration” with the subject of “security”). But also completely ‘civil’ functions become ever more managed with “military” tools and capabilities, revealing a model or a design of continual refunctionalisation and legitimization of the military (examples in abundance, of soldiers in the streets to keep public order, for civil protection – in fact, civilian – substantially entrusted to the military, up to the presence of the military with the function of teachers or broadcasters in the schools, which aspect the MIR campaign for “Demilitarized Schools” appropriately reminds us, against “the presence and increase, in the school environment, of multiple activities, initiatives and projects, in collaboration with the Armed Forces and thus in clear contrast with the educational, training and cultural aims of the scholastic institution”).

The second question: The concretization of “peace”. (Reading between the lines) it is an allusion, not even very veiled, to our responsibilities. Again paraphrasing Galtung, both by omission (all the times that all these excesses of militarization, after all have not disturbed us very much) and in actions (whenever we have not forced ourselves to imagine peace to be “constructed”, rather than “declaimed”). “95% of people in the West expend 95% of their own energies to the world as it is now – criticizing this or that, making diagnoses and prognoses, predicting catastrophes, sending out warnings and fighting each other over the correct interpretation or making up conspiracies and propaganda. But such negative energy will get us
nowhere.” During the presentation of a book, a few years ago, I also felt that unpleasant sensation which is born of the surprise of your interlocutor: “I didn’t even know that there existed such a job as peacemaker!”. But the discussion could be expanded: how many times is our action only a proclamation and a testimony and is mixed with propaganda and whimsical? Maybe, thinking about peace “in action” is a good place from which to start to discuss these reflections, so demanding that which the text urges us to do.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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