Posts by Ali

Mental Peacebuilding

Posted by on Jun 10, 2011 in Creativity, Ingredients | 0 comments

“I find it so difficult not to hate; and when I do not hate I feel we few are so lonely in the world (Bertrand Russell, letter to Colette, 1918).”

Growing up, we learned popularity was the key to survival. We needed to figure out ways to fit in and be liked, if this meant submitting to the crowd mentality against our better judgement, so be it. Hopefully, we have all grown out of the worst of this stage, however we can never really shed the influence of peer pressure. The desire to placate people and not ruffle any feathers is never absent entirely from our daily operations. To put it simply, no one wants to be “that guy,” the one to upset a group’s balance or natural rhythm, whether or not going with the flow is actually beneficial.

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Hope and Peace

Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Ingredients | 2 comments

I just started volunteering for a small Denver based nonprofit named Hope Connects International. Its mission is to effectively provide aid to local development initiatives in vulnerable areas to empower individuals, families, and communities affected by poverty, war, disease, and a lack of education. To fulfill this mission, its current project is rebuilding a school destroyed by conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). So, to familiarize myself with the situation in this country, I researched its ongoing conflict and found a survey conducted in 2007 by the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley, the Payson Center at Tulane University, and the International Center for Transitional Justice.

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Hypocritical Peacebuilding

Posted by on May 20, 2011 in Random Thoughts | 1 comment

I received an email from yesterday summarizing issues in which I have expressed interest. One headline entitled “Progressive Christian Group Rejects Gay Rights Ad” particularly piqued my interest because of the combination of the words “progressive” “christian” and “gay.” I clicked on the link and read the full article. It outlined the basics of a conflict between the proclaimed progressive Christian group, Sojourners International, and a New York-based organization, Intersections International.

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Critical Kindness

Posted by on May 14, 2011 in Ingredients, Micropeacebuilding, Peacebuilding Organizations | 0 comments

I taught at a Montessori school for five years, and we talked a lot about “peace curricula.” At one particular staff meeting when this topic managed to make it onto the agenda again, I noticed my mother, who worked at the school with me, was getting increasingly irritated. Finally, she blurted out “I’ve had it up to here with peace!” Everyone was a little taken aback by this confession. How could anyone be tired of peace?

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Casual Peacebuilding

Posted by on May 6, 2011 in Micropeacebuilding, Random Thoughts | 0 comments

As much as I hate to admit it, maybe the hippies were right. Maybe if we’d all accepted the “love in” as a genuine form of conflict resolution, the world would be a more peaceful place. Just take the endangered Bonobo monkeys for example. These monkeys are 98.5% similar to humans and therefore fight, but before a fight becomes violent, they engage in an interesting mediation strategy. No, they don’t talk about their feelings, use “I” statements, practice active listening, or negotiate a settlement. They have sex. Brief, but apparently meaningful, sex. After an encounter, all problems are then solved and they can go about their other daily Bonobo activities, no hard feelings. I’m not sure the human world is ready for this approach, but just throwing it out there as an alternative. So, remember the Bonobo next time you’re trying to resolve a conflict.

Watch this short Nightline video to get a lesson in Bonobo peacebuilding.
Bonobo Chimps Practicing Conflict Resolution

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The Femininity of Peacebuilding

Posted by on May 5, 2011 in Creativity, Gender, Peacebuilding Organizations | 0 comments

In my Strategic Peacebuilding class, we got in a heated discussion about a book entitled Women Building Peace: What They Do, Why it Matters, written by Sanam Naraghi Anderlini. In retrospect, it seems strange that a book about peace would spark debate, but nevertheless even those members of the class who rarely spoke, raised their hands to speak their opinions that day. The debate began because some females in the class thought this particular book supported the common stereotype of women as “caregivers” and pigeonholed us into solely a nurturing role. They were offended by this perception and some chose to view the book as a type of propaganda working against women’s equality.

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War is Only an Invention

Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Creativity, Ingredients | 2 comments

Some argue there can not be peace without war because one defines the other; how can we experience peace without measuring it against its extreme opposite? So at this point, it makes sense to devote some time to discussing war, if only to highlight its engagement and interplay with peace.

American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead considered war’s place in this world and raised the question: Is war a biological necessity, a sociological inevitability, or just a bad invention?

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The Cellist of Sarajevo

Posted by on Apr 26, 2011 in Creativity, Ingredients | 0 comments

The Cellist of Sarajevo

I have some friends who are creative in the most literal sense of the word. They can think of a scene, abstract or real, and then depict it amazingly just using a plain old #2 pencil everyone has used at some point to take a multiple choice test. I am continually amazed at this talent because it never fails to bring something unique and beautiful into the world. While this is the most obvious form of creativity, I’m sure we can all list numerous other ways people all over the world express their creativity. What often gets lost in this jumble of ideas are actions, particularly actions people take every day to build peace, equally as unique, beautiful, and creative as any work of art. Typically, peacebuilding is boiled down to a few limited actions: negotiated peace agreements, diplomacy, mediation, ceasefires, United Nations peacekeeping forces, etc., but what about those who aren’t involved in these actions? What about those who don’t get to participate because their voice is not equally valued at the proverbial “table” where influential decisions about how to build peace are made? Are they left out of the peacebuilding process? Not necessarily…they just need to be more creative.

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The Problem with Peace

Posted by on Apr 24, 2011 in Random Thoughts | 0 comments

The Problem with Peace

People often ask me what I studied in graduate school. International studies gets a knowing nod, conflict resolution is often received with a confused look. “What do you do with that?” people ask, not out of rudeness, just curiosity. I want to respond with, “build peace,” but am certain this answer will be unclear, insufficient, and seem too idealistic, even futile or childish. Perhaps this is because “peace” conjures us images like this:

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