MODUS OPERANDI OF PEACE ORGANIZATIONS

COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 23 Dec 2008

Charles Mercieca

    The expression modus operandi is a Latin phrase that literally means mode or way of operating or functioning. It is generally based on established principles. A peace organization refers to any group of individuals that decide to work together wholeheartedly for the achievement of the same constructive goals and objectives. The word peace is derived from the Latin word “pax,” which is described by the New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language as a state of tranquility, freedom from war, cessation of hostilities, and harmony.

Meaning of Peace

    The word “peace” is perhaps one of the most important words that may exist in any language. In fact, the same dictionary has given us a list of peace expressions, which we hear quite often especially nowadays. Here are a few examples by way of illustration:

  • At peace…. living at peace, that is, in a peaceful state; this has been the inner ambition of every human being, consciously or unconsciously.
  • Breach of the peace…. violation of public tranquility; this breach between individuals and nations has caused conflicts that resulted in a tremendous amount of suffering on both regional and global scales.
  • To hold one’s peace…. to suppress one’s thoughts and be silent; St. Francis of Assisi once was going to say something good to the congregation but, instead, he remained silent and, as a result, many shed tears and were converted.
  • To make peace with another…. to reconcile with the other person; once we develop the habit to view the other person as the image and child of God, it would become easier for us to proceed toward reconciliation.
  • Peace establishment…. the reduced number of effective men in the army during time of peace; the idea that the military exists to bring about peace has proved in history to be fallacious.
  • Commission of peace…. appointment of justices of peace; the United Nations’ International Court of Justice in Belgium is supposedly to be composed of such justices who are assumed to be imbued with inner peace.

    When we refer to individuals as peaceable, it means we are referring to their character and disposition. A person is viewed as peaceful when there is a genuine love and concern for the welfare of all people, directly or indirectly, without exception. In this sense, God may be viewed to be the most peaceful entity in the entire universe, which explains why many refer to Him as the source of peace. Ascetical writers tell us that the greatest gift that God could possibly give to humans is peace, which emanates from the inner self.

Peace Work in Operation

    In view of what has been stated, we are now in a position to discuss the modus operandi of peace organizations. We need to keep in mind here that the fact that an organization makes the word “peace” as a part of its name does not mean that such organization is necessarily peaceful. We are all familiar with the traditional saying, actions speak louder than words. We should accept an organization as being peaceful based not only on its philosophy but especially on the way its philosophy is implemented.

    For practical purposes, we may classify peace organizations into two general categories: non-profit and profit-making. Non-profit peace organizations are expected to be composed of volunteers who may come from every walk of life and profession. The majority of such members do make a living by having a regular job with an establishment or a company. They just volunteer their extra time in the evenings and/or on week-ends for humanitarian purposes. Such peace organizations may have a budget derived from membership dues, fund raising activities, and donations.

    Such money is always needed for a smooth operation in the publication of newsletters and journals, in the maintenance of needed offices, and so on. Also, when the organization grows and expands to the extent that it would need more manpower, then assistants could be employed with modest or adequate salaries. In this regard, it would be good for fast growing non-profit organizations to have a peace foundation established. For prospective donors to donate they must know the organization’s goals and objectives.

    This means that such goals and objectives must be visibly seen in action with tangible results. It is not enough to have them well elaborated on paper with signatures of approval from quite a good number of prominent people. In peace work what really counts is not the endorsement and moral support of well known figures in society. What really counts is the work that has already been performed with tangible results. An example of this would be the work carried out by the congregation of the well known Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

    Mother Teresa who will be certainly declared a saint during the current 21st century, concentrated thoroughly on helping the poorest of the poor to alleviate them from their enormous suffering. When she visited Cuba, she was received by the head of State, President Fidel Castro, who greeted her with the words: “Welcome! The whole of Cuba is yours. Whatever you need let us know and we will help you secure it.” There seems to be an instinct in human nature of great admiration toward those that dedicate their services to people in need.

Style of Non-Profit Organizations

    When Mother Teresa passed away peacefully years later in India, the government there decided to give her a state funeral same as that given to the head of state. Experience has demonstrated that those who genuinely work for peace, without seeking any remuneration whatsoever, have often most of the problems they encounter wither away. Briefly stated, members of a non-profit peace organization are primarily concerned with the real achievement of the peaceful goals and objectives they established in the first place.

    Also, members of a non-profit peace organization do not seem to have time to play politics between themselves and to get entangled into bureaucratic procedures. Besides, they never seem to make money a condition for their good and much needed peace work. Once they decide that some project is of great importance to help alleviate human suffering, they will proceed to do it, to implement it by all means, without putting money as a condition. One non-profit peace organization refers to this modus operandi as the principle of the three Z’s.

    We are referring here to the International Association of Educators for World Peace, which has been in operation since 1967. Since then it spread in more than 50 countries with over 50,000 members. These three Z’s consist of zero politics, zero bureaucracy and zero budget. Zero politics allows the members to concentrate on the positive and constructive results of their activities rather on the person or persons in charge of one or more projects. This principle helps to do away completely with personality cults within the organization.

    Zero bureaucracy gives members the opportunity to move forward with the proper and swift implementation of the organization’s goals and objectives. This way a tremendous amount of time is saved since they do not have to go through a hierarchical procedure to seek for approval from others each time they have to perform essential peace activities. Zero budget does not mean that the organization ignores the importance of financial needs. It simply means that money is not put as a condition to proceed with the performance of vital peace activities in the community.

    In addition, in a number of peace organizations, there is no centralized budget, that is, one financial source that would distribute money as needed on a global level. There is, instead, an independent financial source in each country where such an organization finds itself. This explains why such non-profit peace organizations may have countries which may require membership dues while other countries may not have such a requirement. This modus operandi is part of the so called zero budget principle.

Conspectus of Profit-Making Organizations

    Profit-making peace organizations function, in general, pretty much like non-profit peace organizations in terms of goals and objectives. This means they also seek to make positive and constructive contributions to society. Usually, those that work for such organizations tend to work on a full time basis with an income that would enable them to pay their bills. Needless to say, the more they sell their product the more money comes in that would make it easier for such organizations to develop branches with relative ease in other global areas.

    Technically speaking, profit-making peace organizations may be viewed as business organizations. However, the only difference may lie in the product they deal with, which is always meant to promote or enhance peace within the individual, the community, the nation and the whole world, as a matter of fact. Most of their products consist of a variety of peace oriented literature, ranging from newspapers and journals to pamphlets and books. They may organize peace conferences both for themselves and for a variety of other organizations.

    Some of them have developed the speakers’ bureau, which provides, for a fee, outstanding speakers for a variety of programs. They may also run shops with peace oriented products that people may purchase as an ornament in their houses. Needless to say, they may have, for their members, periodical peace conferences on a variety of topics of current national and international concern. Since several of those working in such organizations do so for their livelihood money is always taken into consideration in all of their endeavors.

    Whereas in non-profit peace organizations the members tend to be all volunteers, many of those working in profit-making peace organizations tend to be profit-making individuals. The modus operandi of profit-making peace organizations tends to differ quite a bit from that of non-profit peace ones. Yet, they are both essential to each other and both beneficial to the community where they happen to be. What is really important in peace organizations of any kind is to have members that are devoted to the cause of peace where love replaces hatred and where justice is given the opportunity to reign for a very long time.
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Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
*Member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace and Development
*President, International Association of Educators for World Peace, NGO Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education, Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
*Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
 

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 Dec 2008.

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