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S.C. Crawford: Three Principles of Peace

Presented to Assembly 2003, “Global Governance at a Turning Point: Innovative Approaches to Peace in a Changing World, July 10-14, 2003

What makes 9/11 a defining moment in world history? It is a defining moment because it has infused within our collective psyche a pervasive sense of foreboding about what lies ahead. There is the presentiment that evil will strike again, but when and where? The uncertainty of the future fills us with a sort of primitive, tribal anxiety. Within the ambiguities of the times in which we now live, there is one certainty. All signs point to the new reality that we have entered a historical epoch in which the truisms of yesterday are no longer valid.

In global terms, our political and economic systems can no longer be hierarchies of power and wealth, but must become inclusive. Admittedly, there have always been divisions between the rich and poor, but in today’s technologically driven world, we live in global fish bowls. Disenfranchised masses can look into the worlds of the wealthy and powerful, and come to the conclusion that their sorry lot is due to a corrupt state of affairs. With high rates of unemployment, reaching 60 percent in places such as Palestine, young people meet some fanatic who tells them that they are victims of injustice, that God is on their side, that they should give their lives to a righteous cause and because they feel that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, both in this life and the next these young people become ready recruits in the army of terror.

Such a reading of the times could make one cynical about the future, but I am reminded that the Chinese character for danger also signifies opportunity. I draw on three principles of peace. These principles are based on core human values. In the old order, peace was predicated on strategies, but in the new world order the basis of peace must be those values that define our common humanity.

The first principle is the sanctity of life. September 11 showed the dark side of human nature, but the atrocities were followed by the revelation of another side. There was an international outpouring of sympathy. The French Prime Minister said it best: “Today we are all Americans.” Just as people forgot their nationalities in the effort to connect as humans with other humans, they also shed their religious identities. The Buddhist forgot he was a Buddhist, the Hindu forgot she was Hindu, the Muslim did not reach out as a Muslim, but simply as a human being. A high point of religious consciousness was achieved, because this is precisely what religion is about. The purpose of Buddhism is not to make one a Buddhist, but a person. We are not Muslims or Christians who happen to be persons, but persons who happen to be Muslim and Christian. Thus, sanctity of life is realized with the de-sacralization of the very traditions to which we belong. The worldwide outpouring of human compassion on and after 9/11 revealed that life is sacred and that religions are made for people, not people for religion.

The second principle addresses the fact that, while the old order conceived of peace through the strategies of internationalism, in today’s multi-civilizational dialogue we must think in terms of global solidarity. The latter appellation is preferred because it affirms the unity of humankind. The Unification movement has domesticated this mode of dialogue through his practice of uniting persons in marriage that cross all of the national, cultural, and ethnic boundaries that divide people from people. Marriage here is a metaphor for the global truth that those whom the One Creator has joined together, no force of heaven or earth can put asunder. The Just War theory belongs to the old order, in which nations did try to put humans asunder

The third principle is that the means and ends cannot be separated. We have legitimized wars by rationalizing their goal as being toward peace. This Machiavellian thinking has never produced peace, and never shall. World War I was billed as “the war to end all wars,” but it only sowed the seeds of World War II. The presidential announcement of victory in Iraq was a trifle premature. Means and ends cannot be placed in watertight compartments, but are part of a single flow. Hence, if we are to prevail in the struggle against global terror, we must pay heed to the “ping pong” politics of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and take a fresh approach to global politics.

These three principles of peace for multicivilizational dialogue are not just nice, but necessary. They do not come from “above,” but are thrust upon us from below. People admire spiritual ideals but tend to disregard them. These values proceed out of our common humanity and to disregard them would be nothing short of self-betrayal. September 11 has shown us one side of what we humans can do, but embedded in that evil is also the good we have it in ourselves to be.