21 September 2016: 10 Pointers

EDITORIAL, 26 Sep 2016

#448 | Johan Galtung

Peace is not only a great idea, but something sacred, holy.

The number of pointers to peace has to reflect this as a holy number, like 10 for the Ten Commandments.

But in Christianity 3 is also holy, for the Trinity.

And in Islam 1 stands for the only One God.

In Buddhism 4 stands for the Truths, and 8 for the Ways.

And we find 5 and 7 in many places.

So let us use them all, bestowing multiple sacredness on peace.  Starting with 1-3 for the most basic, adding two more for 4-5, two more for 6-7, with three concrete pointers for 8-10.  Here we go:


[1]  The roots of war are unsolved conflict and-or unconciled trauma.

[2]  The root of conflict is incompatible goals.  Conflicts are solved by making them compatible, through mediation finding what the parties’ goals and a vision of a new reality with reasonably compatible goals.

[3]  The root of trauma is past violence. Traumas are conciled by clearing the past and creating a future, through conciliation wishing the violence undone, and proposing future cooperative joint projects.


[4]  Cooperation, good with good for mutual and equal benefit: equity.

[5]  Harmony, sharing sorrows and joys, through empathy.


[6]  Basic Human needs: survival, wellness, freedom, identity.

[7]  Basic Nature needs: diversity, symbiosis.


[8]  The most belligerent states, USA-UK-Israel: Stop it, go for 1-7.

[9]  UN Uniting for Peace, from UNSC to UNGA adding a United Regions.

[10] Dialogue of civilizations for mutual learning, from each other.

Better some progress on all ten than big jumps on one or a few.

What a good idea to have an International Day for Peace!  To take stock. To mark the goal of peace for all, like health for all. To voice old and new ideas. To legitimize talking seriously about peace.

The sacredness has been emphasized: Do not take peace lightly.  Approach it with dedicated heart and open mind, ready to develop.

Some comments on the points made, although they can also speak for themselves, even as one-liners.

[1]: This is an empirical experience, it is not “innate nature”.  And like for everything empirical, truths are not 100%; for that go to mathematics. They are seen as necessary causes, meaning that where there is war–or violence more generally–, whoever searches will identify one or both.  They are not sufficient: the classics, intent and capability, are also needed. But intent is based on grievances. Enters [1], leading to frustration-aggression, to shame-guilt and revenge-fear. As to disarmament: the ultimate arms is one human arm. Maybe better, even easier: to learn to solve conflicts and concile traumas.

[2]-[3]: also known as negative peace. For details there are the TRANSCEND University Press books A Theory of Conflict, Reconciliation; for a general overview that also includes [4]-[5] A Theory of Peace.

[4]-[5]: also known as positive peace. The sky is the limit. The basic point is to link good–what all are good at–with good, and there is always something.  And to think peace.  Not to focus only on the bad-evil in Other, thinking only security.  And, thinking war.

[6]-[7]: serve to identify the sacredness.  Human lives fully lived, nature fully evolving–including humanity evolving.

[8]-[10]: specific practice, not general theory.  Focus on the most belligerent, knowing there are others, because of the violence in the wake of their striving for global or regional hegemonies. And it makes sense to improve the UN, adding a UR in a regionalizing world.  And to draw on the wealth of civilizations; not only the wealth of nations.

However, there is an enormous information deficit in the world about peace.  A common misunderstanding is that peace is simply the normal state of affairs between one war and the next, like war between one peace and the next.  All you need for peace is a cease-fire.

Try that one on health, seeing health as normal life interrupted by diseases. Up come all the “normal” mistakes we made and often still make: inattention to nature’s hazards, the wrong food and water, the wrong clothing and housing, the lack of exercise, health education, health checks, health care in general. “Normal” was not good enough.

Conscientization was needed, and work much beyond a cease-fever.

The ten pointers above do not come by themselves as an outcome of the normal state of affairs. Again conscientization is needed, and self-control not only control of others, and much, even hard, work.

The media have been updated on health, but not on peace. Imagine media run by the pharma industry.  Would we not suspect that self-control info might be suppressed in favor of diseases running their course till time has come for pills?  Health news would be bad news; media would be filled with disease and the threat of disease.

That is the media we have, substituting arms industry for pharma industry.  Peace news is bad news to some; media are filled with war and threats of war.  They do not even know how to identify and write about peace should it happen. The money involved: in quadrillions.

One implication of the US position as world hegemon–fortunately weakening–is “the leading media are the media of the leading power”.  The way US media look at peace and war is copied all over, left unchallenged, maybe less out of servility than fear of what the world hegemon might do: almost 250 military interventions since 1801.

The bright side: much peace to be expected from peace information like much health came from health information. But “No to war” is only like “No to disease”.  We also need “Yes to peace”.  And how to do it.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. Prof. Galtung has published 1669 articles and book chapters, over 400 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and 167 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 26 Sep 2016.

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