Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just Peacemaking: A New Ethical Paradigm

My friend Michael Westmoreland-White has recently posted an index to his blog series on the ten practices of just peacemaking. I'm providing a link to that index here and would strongly encourage others to read through the series and consider how these practices might be applied in their own contexts.

As a college student, I remember having many frustrating and, generally, non-productive debates (or, more precisely, arguments) with my roommates about the merits of pacifism versus militarism. My biggest problem, of course, was that I was rarely able to offer credible alternatives to war and the few that I could manage to come up with (e.g., the violent resistance of Gandhi and King) were often dismissed as being unpractical methods of resistance to modern warfare. Thanks to Glen Stassen (and the many colleagues that have joined him in this endeavor), just peacemaking theory--based on a synthesis of Christian ethics and international relations theory--seeks to scientifically identify and articulate those specific practices that help to promote peace in our global, local, and interpersonal relationships. It bypasses the age old ethical debate of pacifism versus just war theory by focusing on the practices that actually work when it comes to peacemaking.

For pacifists, then, just peacemaking theory provides credible and scientifically proven alternatives to war. For just war theorists--all of whom would argue that war should only be used as a last resort anyway, just peacemaking theory offers an inventory of "first resorts" that can and should be attempted before opting for war as a last resort. In other words, the brilliance of this theory is that it stakes out common ground where pacifists and just war theorists can work together to further world peace.

As you might suspect, the practices of just peacemaking are hardly foolproof and, of course, don't prove effective 100% of the time. So even if they are practiced diligently, there will still be occasions where pacifists and just war theorists may have to part ways as the latter opt for war as a last resort. Nevertheless, if these practices were better known and more widely implemented, the reality is that we would probably find ourselves in a world where war and violence were much less commonplace than they are now.

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At Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 12:44:00 PM EST , Blogger Tauratinzwe said...

I've been thinking of suggesting to Obama that he make "preemptive peacemaking" a foundational plank in his platform. By "preemptive peacemaking" I mean anticipating problems that could cause conflict and seeking solutions before tensions grow.

If we would spend as much on Peace Academies (which teach just peacemaking) as we do on Military Academies (which teach warmaking), we could have a more just and wonderful world.

At Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 2:44:00 PM EST , Blogger haitianministries said...


At Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 11:49:00 PM EST , Blogger Mike Broadway said...

This is a good idea. I think I'll post a link to your post linking to MWW.


At Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 6:20:00 AM EST , Blogger haitianministries said...

Thanks, Mike!


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