Meanwhile, Around the World

EDITORIAL, 1 Jul 2019

#593 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Transcending Transcend: A New Phase

(and transcending prescription vs. prediction to “prescrip/diction”)

Alfas, Spain, 1 July 2019: an iconic date. The second half of a calendar year, right after an equinox announcing the second half of the solar year.

Time to take stock. And to go beyond, transcend to something new.

Leaving the old behind?  No, taking the old with us into the new. Learning from mathematics how to “go beyond”, like from natural numbers to integers by adding negative numbers to positive numbers; or from integers to rational numbers by adding fractions. The old numbers are still there, but inside a new mathematics that has been enriched. And mathematics is said to have done that more than a hundred times…

Does this make sense socially, politically, peace politically?

Yes, indeed, by using the transcend concept in peace politics, going beyond the positions of the conflict parties in a new reality, accommodating reasonably well the legitimate goals of all parties.

Like in a conflict between a fundamentalist Buddhist wife and her business-oriented husband; by running a Buddhist bookstore together.

Like in a conflict over European Union membership between a fundamentalist all or nothing and new states demanding something; by multi-stage dynamic membership; adding, but also subtracting rules.

In both using the DPT formula of diagnosis, prognosis, therapy; who are we, what do we want, how do we get it (in the DTP order).

But beware; prognosis is not the same as forecasting.

Prognosis is not more or less accurately forecasting the future.

Prognosis P is part of a DPT-triangle with diagnosis as point of departure–this is where we are–and therapy as point of arrival.

There are actually two prognoses in the process: without and with therapy.  Doing nothing vs. doing something.

Both departure and arrival are known.  Find the road, please.

Humans are doing that all the time; going beyond through action, staying put through inaction as a limiting case.  Eating when hungry, sleeping when sleepy, sexing when sexy.  We transcend by meeting the need or satisfying the goal, whatever we call it.

There are also the basic needs that have to be met; no choice.

Now, what could “transcending transcend” possibly stand for?

Let us approach that question with a real life example.

We were a group of friends watching a movie together.  A good movie, exciting, challenging–till all of a sudden the screen went blank.

We were left with “ingenting aa gjoere“, nothing to do.  We had programmed ourselves for movie-watching, maybe with some positive and negative noises and movements not interfering with others’ watching.

And suddenly there was no program, neither the old, nor a new.

We were unprogrammed till somebody said, “OK, let’s go home”.

What did not strike us before later, talking about it, was that there is another word for “unprogrammed”.  It is also called freedom.

And that is what is meant here by “transcending transcend”.

Of course it is an illusion.  In fact, we are always programmed in hundreds, thousands of ways.  By our DNA, for instance.  By our work, by our jobs.  Sometimes our DNA may launch us on a course to illness, possibly death, making us want DNA changes–now made possible by brilliant researchers.  What a breakthrough, a biological re-programming, even before birth in or on the fetus.

And this is where social re-programming enters in connection with aging and retirement.  We have been programmed by the job, by the necessities of work to be done, but suddenly there is no job, no work. We have been arguing not to let oneself be programmed by fake jobs called “hobbies”–“lissonjobber” in Norwegian–but try to continue with the old job even if not paid (there may be old age pension for that), or to invent a new job.  For a socially useful, meaningful life.

The freedom mentioned does not mean to live unprogrammed; that is meaningless.  But it opens for a radical challenge, for the freedom to choose or develop our own program, the freedom to be self-programmed.

What an incredible privilege–and much under-utilized.

Looking back at my own long life I have been through that twice.

From high school programming to university student freedom.

From job programming to retirement with no job freedom.

But humans do not live on freedom alone, or on bread alone. We need programs, and butter on the bread.  There is a clear, somber warning: retire, with no new program; but for a very short life only.

Transcend is based on mediation by a mediator, trained to enter with deep empathy in the conflicts of others, exploring and respecting their goals, not asking them to be more modest, more moderate, the cheap ways out.  No, searching for a new reality meeting their goals, maybe even with some extra benefits that could sustain that reality.

Transcending transcend?  There was always a mediator doing the transcend job for the parties combining prescription and prediction; do this and you will get that.  What we mean by transcending transcend is the parties doing this themselves, not getting stuck in conflicts they think are unsolvable for lack of knowledge about solutions.

We need a new lease on life for people strangulated by getting stuck in “unsolvable conflict”.  There is no such thing, even if finding solutions is difficult, takes time, and requires exercise.

We need a transcend culture.

At that point we receive inspiration from sports culture.  Doing the impossible may take time, but records are broken again and again.  What muscular gymnastics does for sports, mental gymnastics may do for mediation. “Övelse gjör mester“, practice makes the master.

For a less troubled, more happy, humankind.

A human right in the US constitution, to be celebrated on July 4.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. He was awarded among others the 1987 Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. Galtung has mediated in over 150 conflicts in more than 150 countries, and written more than 170 books on peace and related issues, 96 as the sole author. More than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. His book, Transcend and Transform, was translated to 25 languages. He has published more than 1700 articles and book chapters and over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 Jul 2019.

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One Response to “Meanwhile, Around the World”

  1. Gary Corseri says:

    “Transcending transcend!” Getting beyond mere methodologies. Not discarding the past, but polishing the lenses again: to re-examine, renew, revitalize. And, merging those older, revitalized systems with new approaches/new systems. It’s a concept to keep us lively, on our toes, alert–learning from the “old and true” and from the new and true. An approach to keep us agile in mind, body, and spirit. Thank you, Johan Galtung!