Unification News for November 2004
Leadership and Good Governance for the Global Family: Establishing a World Culture of Heart and Lasting Peace
Peace and the Future of Politics
Dr. Frank Kaufmann, Director Interreligious Federation for World Peace
October 3, 2004
Dr. Frank Kaufmann
This panel is designed to have writers and speakers do something new for the sake of peace. We are called to analyze peace efforts so as to bridge visions, proposals and activities coming from religion and civil society with that of the world of political power.
Peace activists and spiritual leaders often blame politicians for war and conflict, explicitly or implicitly painting political figures in broad generalizations as enemies of enlightenment, peace, and reconciliation. Conversely political leaders and elected officials often see religious and civil peace activists as hopelessly naïve, and clueless about even minimal realities with which responsible political leaders must deal every day.
This lack of understanding and lack of sympathy for the positions and realities of these two groups prevents progress for a better world which both camps long to see, and both camps imagine themselves to be pursuing fervently and responsibly.
It is the purpose of this panel and this paper to ponder the unique constraints facing political leaders and for leaders in various sectors including the political to begin to envision how each respective sector can be more helpful and supportive for conscientious political leaders to take the politically risky steps required to advance the cause of peace. In short, ³it is time to stop pointing fingers and blaming others. It is time to begin the work in my own profession and vocation to help empower every fellow traveler.²
What Makes Peace?
Religious acts make peace. Note I did not say religion contains the key to peace. I might. So what? I did not say religion teaches us clearly what is necessary for peace. It might. So what?
Religion has two jobs: Accurately identify the source of human problems and clearly prescribe the antidote, and accurately define the original ideal way for human life in the absence of problems (in other words, what sort of behavior allows the repaired state to persist).
The religious PERSON on the other hand has two slightly different jobs: DO what solves the problem, and DO what maintains an ideal harmonious state
Every conflict situation results from 2 bases: the history of my wrongdoing, and the history of the wrongdoing of the other.
Which of the two do you think you have a greater chance of fixing? To which of the two problems do you have greater access to get your hands on and fix? It is obvious. I have greater access to my own problems. The history of my own wrongdoing and my own present wrongdoing is the only reasonable point of focus for anyone claiming to be serious about the pursuit of peace. I refer to my own personal wrong doing, the wrong doing of my own family, or my own people, of my own race, of my own co religionists. These comprise half of every conflict situation.
Firstly, if I really want peace, what must I do vis-à-vis my present wrong doing? Answer. Stop it. Stop doing wrong. This is a religious act. To stop doing wrong is a religious act.
Next, what do I do about the history of my wrongdoing, the wrong that members of my family or my clan, or the wrong my people have committed. Answer. Say sorry. Not Iım sorry BUT. Just sorry. To say sorry is a religious act. It is called repentance.
Thirdly, if someone has done wrong to you, wrong to the members of your family, wrong to your people and they come to you and say they are sorry. What should you do? You should forgive that person, or those people. This is a religious act. To forgive is divine.
Conflict can NOT exist in the presence of someone who has genuinely repented of his crimes to the aggrieved party, and the aggrieved genuinely forgave the offending party. If anyone has gone through this you know that the bond of love and tears from these paired acts are among the most powerful in all of the human experience.
Fourthly the repentant wrongdoer and the aggrieved (usually both parties are both), MUST collaborate to establish a just and equitable reality in which no further wrongdoing in system, structure and circumstance obtain, and both sides must invest unconditionally and without reservation in maintaining that universe. This is a religious act, it is called giving.
It should be clear that the problem of peace is NOT complicated. Nothing could be simpler than achieving and maintaining peace. I didnıt say it was easy. I said the problem is simple. Further, it should be clear that the path to peace is accomplished by religious acts. Not by religions. Not by religious belief. Not by religious teachings. It is accomplished by 3 religious acts: repentance, forgiveness, and a life of giving unconditionally.
The political coin of the realm is power. It is comprised of 3 things, power over people (or the power OF people), power over wealth (material resources which includes the power to make gigantic tools of aggression), and power over information; people, money, and knowledge.
There are two approaches to power; control by force and manipulation (power begets power), or influence stemming from attraction for the good that results from the power you accrue.
BUT, whether your relationship with power is of the good or bad sort, does not in any way alter the fundamental reality of politics, and that is about power. Power seeks ever greater authority. This is not a negative. In and of itself it is neutral. It is simply the nature of power.
Once you are involved in politics you are in the power game. You are involved in a dynamic in which you participate in the pursuit of ever greater authority (namely ever more complete and ever more expansive authority). There are others involved in the same sweep and dynamics, and you have to deal with this in some manner or another. Even if your relationship with power is of the positive sort, you may well have someone who seeks to challenge your authority using power in a bad or evil way. This is simply your reality. That is the reality of the politician.
Details of Political Reality: You have enemies; you represent more than yourself, including representing the wealth and welfare of a community; you have electoral vulnerability for your actions; you have legal, and material and resource responsibility and culpability for your public actions; you have (often powerful) interest groups and contributors associated with your power and authority; you have ³handlers² and advisors, cabinets, and abundant interests and constraints on your actions which are at all times representative; you have the extremely precarious balancing act between ³domestic² and ³foreign² policy.
The task before us is quite simple then, how to relate dynamics of peace to the realities of those with enough power to do something about matters. I argued earlier that the path to peace involves religious action: 1. Concentrate first on what I myself do and have done wrong. 2. Apologize (repent) to those whom Iıve harmed from my wrongdoing, 3. Forgive those who apologize for their wrongdoing and history of wrongdoing, and 4. Collaborate in a program of giving without reservation to preserve the harmony achieved through the above mentioned acts of reconciliation.
It should be immediately evident that even the best meaning political leader in the world is instantly hamstrung if asked to say I am equally wrong, or to apologize for wrongdoing and so forth. There are massive electoral, legal, fiscal, domestic implications and more for each act an elected representative takes. There are enemies waiting to pounce on any sign of weakness, there are advocacy groups and trial lawyers circling like sharks to demand victim compensation, and the list goes on.
So here you have a group of people in whose hands the whole possibility for peace rests, and they are in the stock and trade which makes it most difficult to effect the basic and most necessary actions which lead to peace.
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