Love said to me, there is nothing that is not me…

Love
From Inspirably


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Peace Tourism

“Travel has become one of the great forces for peace and understanding of our time… As people move throughout the world and learn to know each other, to understand each other’s customs, and to appreciate the qualities of the individuals of each nation, we are building a level of international understanding which can sharply improve the attitude for world peace.”

President John F. Kennedy

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From Tourism for Peace

Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27. Each year the World Tourism Day has a different theme:
2011: Tourism Linking Cultures
2012: Tourism and Energetic Sustainability
2013: Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future

I hope the theme of the 2014 day will be ‘Peace Tourism’ or ‘Tourism for Peace’.

Nuwan Herath provides a good overview if this relatively recent concept in his article “Peace Through Tourism”:

“Peace tourism intends to reduce root causes that create situations where violence has been perceived as inevitable. It is not a replacement for various other kinds of tourism practice, but is rather intended to be a facilitator to enhance sustainable development and positive peace through the tourism industry…”

It has been speculated that the industry will reach up to 1.56 billion tourists worldwide by 2020. With such a large number of people travelling around the globe, it is not surprising that scholars and other professionals involved in the tourism industry started looking at tourism’s potential for peace making. The major assumption behind the notion of peace tourism is that when people travel frequently all over the world, it helps them get to know new people, cultures, values etc. That experience is capable of increasing mutual understanding among people who have been living in diverse cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, such travel also benefits the host countries economically and politically.

However, there is an opposing view which claims tourism is not a generator of peace but a “beneficiary of peace.” Tourism is only possible in areas where peace is present; it is absent in war zones, and much diminished in areas of high conflict and tension. Additionally, tourism has been perceived as a way of exploiting local people and destinations through the “commoditization” of local cultures. This view identifies tourism as a new way of perpetuating western dominance in the developing world…

Each of these views holds some truth, one view being more accurate in some places, the other more accurate in others. A key question to answer is how the worldwide tourism industry could be redesigned to help sustain positive peace on all parts of the globe. A very challening question, but hopefully one day we’ll find a good solution for that.

Meanwhile let’s keep learning more about each other and our cultures while travelling the world – in real life as well as via the internet.

Global-Family
From Morocco Peace Tours

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Prayer for Oneness of Our Human Family

“To all people, religious and nonbelieving, I make this appeal. Always embrace the common humanity that lies at the heart of us all. Always affirm the oneness of our human family…. Let not your differences from the views of others come in the way of the wish for their peace, happiness, and well-being.”

Dalai Lama

creator
From Prayer for Oneness

Few facts have become more evident in our lifetime than the fact that we live in a pluralistic world and society. With the rapid increase in the transmission of information and the ability to travel on a worldwide scale has also come an increasing awareness that both our world and society contain a multitude of diverse and conflicting viewpoints on many different issues. Nowhere is this pluralism more evident than in the realm of religion. What should our attitude be toward other religions?

In spite of the differences, all major religions foster a common “religious experience” aimed at the moral and ethical improvement of man. As Ian Gardner points out, ” irrespective of the colour of the cow, the milk is white” alluding to the fact that “there is but one spiritual Truth irrespective of which Master expounds it.” John Hick, a noted religious philosopher, supports that view, providing a ‘pluralistic hypothesis’ as a solution to conflict between religions. This hypothesis is based on a simple concept: religions are based on spiritual experience of the divine truth – but even in the best of us those experiences are experienced through the lens of our cultural conditionings. Hence the differences in the way that divine truth is presented in different religions.

How should we treat the followers of other religions or non-religious people? A few weeks ago I came across the following two examples on the Peacefully Beautiful blog:
“The Prophet said: ’There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab, nor for a fair-skinned person over a person with dark skin, nor for a dark-skinned person over a person with fair skin.”

“Once the Prophet was seated at some place in Madinah, along with his Companions. During this time a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Prophet stood up out of respect. One of his companions remarked that the funeral was that of a Jew. The Prophet replied, “Was he not a human being?” (Sahîh Bukhârî)

We are all human beings inspite of the differences between us. Let’s always remember that.

Muslims and Christians

From Beyond Minds

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The toxic virus of the mind: US vs. THEM

Us

From The Toxic Myth of Us vs. Them

The human mind has a tendency to categorize people into social groups. Often these social groups can create an “Us vs. Them” mentality toward people who may be different than us in some way, whether it’s race, gender, age, nationality, culture, religion, or socioeconomic status.

This ‘“Us vs. Them” mentality is a very dangerous virus that pervades many minds on this planet. Often it is so woven into the fabric of our conditioning that many don’t even recognize it in themselves. We stop seeing individual difference within the group. Instead, we see only faceless ‘They’, which is always bad or wrong, while ‘We’ are always right.

This virus of the mind limits us, keeps us in perpetual cycles of fear and violence. We feel justified, even righteous in shouting down or shooting down “them”. Not surprisingly the ‘Us vs Them’ approach is commonly used in military training.

us_them-150x150
from Us (Us us us) and Them (them them them)

Amazingly, studies of the ‘Us vs. them’ mentality have shown that people tend to favor a group bias even when they are categorized on relatively meaningless distinctions, for example: eye color, what kind of paintings they like, or even the flip of a coin. This tells us that we can potentially separate ourselves from a certain group of people on any random and arbitrary characteristic. Therefore, everyone is susceptible to be a perpetrator and/or victims of social prejudice and ostracism, even if the only difference is a star on a tummy, like in the case of Dr. Seuss’s plain and star bellied Sneetches depicted below.

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from Us vs. Them

From evolutionary perspective ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality makes sense. We’ve evolved to perceive these social categories as during tribal times, it would be beneficial to perceive unfamiliar people as a potential threat and treat them as such for protection and security.

Today many of these social categories and stereotypes are propagated by society, tradition, and culture. We see that all the time in politics (Republicans vs. Democrats), war (Palestine vs. Israel), sports (Mets vs. Yankees), and other aspects of our culture. Even though this mentality is not relevant in modern conditions and  creates unnecessary tension and antagonism between everyone, we are struggling with getting over this toxic meme.

How can we fight this powerful virus of the mind and bridge the gap between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’?

 US-Them-300x93
From Us-Them

Steven Handel believes that first of all, we need to “become more aware of our tendency to put people into groups and create an “Us vs. Them” mentality. Then, instead of seeing people in groups, we should try to see everyone as an individual worthy of respect, equality, and kindness, regardless of what groups they may be categorized in. If you choose to associate with a group identity, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Just be super mindful of it and be cautious if that identity starts to have a negative influence on how you view other people who you don’t identify with.”

Like Steven Handel, I try to identify with everyone in some way. I believe at the core we are all human beings and want the same things in life, regardless of our race, religion or culture. We all want to know our family is safe. We all want to be loved and appreciated, have food on the table, enjoy good health. In that sense, we are all very similar and are connected as one.

we-are-all-one
From The Only Message that Matters: “We are all One”

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Resources:

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Propaganda and public perception manipulation

“It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and myths that surround it.”

John Pilger

Propaganda_
From Anti-Propaganda Propaganda

Defining propaganda has always been a problem. The main difficulties have involved differentiating propaganda from other types of persuasion, and avoiding an “if they do it then that’s propaganda, while if we do it then that’s information and education” biased approach. Personally I prefer the following definition provided by Garth Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell: “Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.”

What is modern propaganda? For many, it is the lies of a totalitarian state usually associated with Nazis and Communism.

nazi_poster
From 10 Most Evil Propaganda Techniques

Today, we prefer to believe that there is no submissive void in our society that could be manipulated by propaganda.  Is that really so?

Propaganda does not always come in a form of posters or slogans. As history shows, selection of certain story angles and facts for the mass media distribution is a much more effective away of manipulating public perception while maintaining the illusions of personal freedom and choice. The media’s truly the most powerful entity on earth when it comes to propaganda. Internet can facilitate the spread of facts and real life photos misrepresented in line with a certain agenda and supported by false generalisations such as “we are all good, they are all bad” etc.

media-manipulation
From www.whaleoil.co.nz

What can we do to counteract propaganda in our societies? Not all people can write anti-propaganda articles and make films like John Pilger. However we all can:

  • learn to critically evaluate everything we see and hear
  • teach our children to question everything and think critically
  • challenge our own beliefs and biases that we were brought up with
  • open our minds to new perspectives and points of view.
  • make friends with people from different cultural backgrounds to learn more about their lives and beliefs
  • engage in discussions with people from different cultural backgrounds to build relationships, improve understanding and dispell any existing myths and propaganda.
  • read and learn more about other cultures and other people.

I’m very grateful to all people the blogosphere who helped me to learn more about their cultures and beliefs and dispelled some of the myths I was brought up with. We are the world, we are the people, we are one great family. It is time to realise that a change can only come when we stand together as one.


Resources:

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Peace is a Human Right

war
From Hague Appeal for Peace

The belief that everyone, by virtue of her or his humanity, is entitled to certain human rights is fairly new. Its roots, however, lie in earlier tradition and documents of many cultures; it took the catalyst of World War II to propel human rights onto the global stage and into the global conscience.

Throughout much of history, people acquired rights and responsibilities through their membership in a group – a family, indigenous nation, religion, class, community, or state. Most societies have had traditions similar to the “golden rule” of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The idea of human rights emerged stronger after World War II. The extermination by Nazi Germany of over six million Jews, Sinti and Romani (gypsies), homosexuals, and persons with disabilities horrified the world. Trials were held in Nuremberg and Tokyo after World War II, and officials from the defeated countries were punished for committing war crimes, “crimes against peace,” and “crimes against humanity.”

Governments then committed themselves to establishing the United Nations, with the primary goal of bolstering international peace and preventing conflict. People wanted to ensure that never again would anyone be unjustly denied life, freedom, food, shelter, and nationality.

Member states of the United Nations pledged to promote respect for the human rights of all. On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the 56 members of the United Nations.

The notion of Human Rights has changed the way states can be seen. Traditionally states were perceived just like big people: it was believed that what is true for human conduct is roughly true for state conduct, too. The problem with that paradigm is that although we talk about states as unitary actors – Russia decided to do this, America did that – while states are actually made up of individual persons, each of whom have their own rights and identity.

As David Rodin says, “When you start thinking about things in terms of human rights, it’s a completely different way of thinking about values and ethics. In the old tradition of the ethics of war, chivalry was central. The idea was that you would show restrain [towards civilians] in your military action because you were a great and noble warrior… but it was very much about your own virtue. To think about things from the perspective of human rights is to completely invert that relationship, because what you do is place the person affected at the very centre of the view.”

According to the new paradigm, civilians and enemy combatants are recognised as rights-bearers, who can hold soldiers to account if they fail in their duty to respect those rights. As David Rodin says, “Simply being a member of the armed forces does not absolve you of responsibility for the actions you are taking, for killing in war and for ensuring that violence is directed only at those who are morally liable for it.”

According to that paradigm, only people possess a right to self-defence, because only people have a life to lose. War isn’t a battle of leviathans, where each state stakes its rightful claims. Rather, war is a multitude of human rights violations, committed by and against individual people, each violation triggering each victim’s right to self-defence.

In a world organised around the idea of state sovereignty, where states were believed to possess the right to be free from foreign interference, humanitarian intervention was something of a contradiction. Yet if we think first and foremost about the basic rights of humans rather than states, as Rodin suggests, then this conflict dissolves. Instead, we see that states have a responsibility to protect the rights of people, both their own citizens (in the case of self-defence) and the citizens of other states (humanitarian intervention)… And if citizens and officials can’t or won’t protect the rights of people within their own borders, then the responsibility to intervene falls upon the international community: the citizens and officials of other nations.

Is war then a necessary evil in the protection of human rights? How do you fight justly in a war given you have to fight in some kind of way? Should the universal costs of the war be comparable to the universal benefits of the war?

While allowing us to look at a war from a different perspective, Human Rights paradigm still has lots of unanswered questions and it is hard to say at this stage whether this paradigm will turn out to be a mere utopian concept or whether it will help to bring stability and peace to all humankind. I want to believe like David Rodin that it will help to effectively reduce or even eliminate the armed conflict. I wish so much it will…

 

Resources:

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