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. Occasionally, or often depending on who you are, this feeling can be overwhelming and prevent us from doing something we know we should, even if it is the best option.

According to Mark Kurlansky, the best way to be “that guy” and ensure your unpopularity is to be a practitioner of nonviolence, to be a peacebuilder. He argues in his book Nonviolence Twenty-five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea, “nonviolence is a marginal point of view..It has been marginalized because it is one of the rare, truly revolutionary ideas, an idea that seeks to completely change the nature of society, a threat to the established order. And has always been treated as something profoundly dangerous.”

Fortunately, here in the United States, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Our predecessors have made it possible to actively build peace through a variety of methods, so my next question relates to personal motivations. Reread the quote at the beginning of this narrative and then consider this question: Why are peacebuilders lonely? Is it because most people just accept violence as a legitimate, and often inevitable, form of conflict resolution? The majority of us do not accept violence as a means to solve our interpersonal conflicts, we don’t simply attempt “diplomatic measures” and then allow our problem to escalate quickly to a lethal level. Ironically, the same majority of people likely accept this identical practice on an interstate level.

A common conception is peace is unlikely and temporary while war is inevitable and continuous. We have chosen to marginalize peace by embracing this mentality because our actions will ultimately be dictated by this defeated attitude. Think critically about the state of the world, not just your comfortable little corner. Can we really afford to maintain the “established order?”

The world will never change if we continuously avoid being “that guy,” if we refuse to make a revolutionary idea mainstream.

Learn a lesson from this guy and start your own revolution.



  1. 25 Lessons from the History of Nonviolence | Critical Peace - [...] last post, Mental Peacebuilding, referenced Mark Kurlansky’s book Nonviolence the Twenty Five Lessons from the History of a [...]…

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