On the Confluence of Peace and Attunement
Irrespective of your political affiliations one must admit that the genius of President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was based in his ability to communicate and remain attuned with the pulse of the people. As a constitutional law professor, he could have easily reverted to the legalistic jargon, in which he is surely well versed, but he chose to speak so he could be understood. It was important that his ideas were accessible and easily transmitted.
One must recognize that communication, in its most potent manifestation, involves comprehension and recitation. Individuals must understand what was said and be able to reinterpret this information in their own words. If both parts are satisfied — that is, comprehension and recitation — then the idea will easily be transmitted. If both parts are not satisfied, then the transmission of an idea will be labored.
The clearest analogy for this phenomenon is one’s familial structure. Comparing how a family is run to how the government is run is as old as Aristotle. My wife and I, in planning and budgeting for our monthly expenses, have a realistic understanding of our joint income and the expenses we have each month. My children, however, are oblivious to these facts; and were they privy to the full implications of just how precise we have to budget our lives, they would effectively lose their childhood.
Though the analogy isn’t exactly the same, one must recognize that there are functions of the government that we just shouldn’t be privy to. Granted, transparency is certainly advantageous for inquisitive citizens, but there is a strict difference between merely possessing knowledge and being able to implement knowledge.
Take for example the peace maintained in my home. My wife and I, like many Americans, are under financial stress. Financial stress invariably seeps its way into the home, which poses the threat of disrupting the peace. In order to maintain the peace, we cannot always be discussing the financial crisis. I know the economy is bad. I remembered that 500,000 people are losing their jobs a month. I understand there are outside forces seeking to destroy our freedoms.
There is that great scene in Men in Black where Agent K, played by Tommy Lee Jones says, “There's always an alien battle cruiser, or a Corellian death ray, or an intergalactic plague intended to wipe out life on this miserable little planet. The only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they do not know about it!”
To maintain peace in my home, I cannot consistently inform my children of the dangers lurking beyond the door. I cannot consistently remind them of just how tight the family budget is. To maintain peace in my home, my children cannot know as much as my wife and I know. But I need to be attuned with my children’s needs.
For any parent reading this, there is absolutely no novelty in this claim. A parent should be attuned to the need of the children. Those needs that are most immediate and most pressing must take precedence; those that are not can wait. But it is important to recognize that my attunement as a father to the needs of my children is impossible without a peaceful household.
If my home is defined by violence and intolerance and if my children do not feel safe within their home, they will not open up. Communication cannot flourish within this environment. Where there is a lack of communication, those in power cannot attune themselves with the needs of the people. A failure to attune one’s self to the needs of the people will result in chaos; and where there is chaos, government has failed. Thus, government must be attuned to the needs of the people.
I am one of the people that constitute the demography, that is, the diversity, of the United States of America. On nearly every front President Obama has succeeded (I’m certainly biased in my opinion), but he is failing to recognize that we the people have had enough of war. He said it himself, “Enough!”
Everyone I speak with is fed up with war, death, dying, genocide, and killing. I am a pacifist, and as an academic I can afford that luxury. I am not a soldier, but I understand the need for soldiers. I am not a supporter of war, but I understand just war theory. I did not agree with the “Bush Doctrine” but I understood the “Bush Doctrine.”
The problem with peace, as a concept, is that the vast majority of people just don’t understand what peace is. Sure peace is nonviolence; it’s antiwar, hippies, and tree-huggers, but it’s so much more than that. To say that I’m for peace doesn’t necessarily mean I’m against war. The question is what type of peace are you for?
To maintain peace in my home, I may have to lie to my children. I cannot allow them total transparency, nor should they want access to this knowledge. After all, curiosity killed the cat. There is no task within government more complex than maintaining peace – not budget, not education, not anything. Without peace, there is no government. Preserving peace is the purpose of government. Were the government unable to maintain peace, the population would revolt and quickly put a new government in power.
As Agent K suggested “The only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they do not know about it.” That there is a constant and perpetual state of total systemic collapse is certain, but do we really need to be continuously informed of these threats? That information is for President Obama and members of his cabinet. How does that information help the average person?
There used to be the thought that fear equals profit. That’s been debunked. I am a realist in the sense that I understand how this machine works. Politicians want power. Business people want profit. The people want peace. If one can successfully triangulate peace with profit and power (what I will define as the 3 Ps) and successfully show that peace can be profitable, in fact more profitable than war, then why not choose peace?
In conclusion, then, for the next several sections, I will explicitly define and discuss this triangulation of the 3 Ps and describe multiple forms peace. I will account for America’s role in the global peace movement and offer historical example on the profitability of peace. Pacifism may be too extreme a view for some, but there are many alternatives, and many forms of peace. One need not ascribe to all forms of peace, just one.