Bridges to peace can easily be built [Archives:2005/811/Opinion]

January 27 2005

In a world of increasing communications between peoples all over the world and airwaves do not recognize political boundaries, the observer is inclined to believe that through rising communications between individuals across continental and regional boundaries, the world will eventually find strong grounds for developing peaceful coexistence among nations. History has often showed us that conflict between nations is bred by prejudices and misunderstandings, as well as an inherent evil nature among certain men that they have a right to a greater share of the world's plenty. But thanks to the internet, communications between different people of various ethnic backgrounds, religious affiliations and political persuasions is easily attainable. In addition, when people resort to dialogue and exchange of views and perceptions, people can find the avenues that will circumvent prejudices and misunderstandings and in fact render such preconceived notions as foolish and senseless since all human beings are the creation of One God Al-Mighty to whom in essence all of mankind recognizes as the Supreme possessor of our souls.

No one is ready to state that conflicts between people have come to an end, but there are now many avenues for people to look at all sides of the issues we face and the individual is encouraged to seek out answers to questions that the open-minded should seek answers to before taking sides in any conflict. Of course this does not mean that prejudices are easily overcome by an email or a look at a peace advocacy group's website. Moreover institutionalized references for information on particular situations may not always be the effective sources of information that help us to judge the merits of an argument as the sides of a conflict set them out. Personal interaction between people is now proving to be the best of inciting mutual respect between people. Everyone would not fail to forget that the late President Ronald Regan represented the ultra-right wing attitude towards the Soviet Union and as far as followers of the conservative political persuasion; the Soviets were always to be viewed with the greatest suspicion and mistrust. It is said that when Ronald Regan met with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former head of the Soviet Union, he was willing to compromise on many of his right wing views and to sideline his total mistrust of Soviet leaders in general. This paved the way for several agreements that helped to end the Cold War that has kept the world under an ominous aura of nuclear destruction and perpetual conflict between countries that found interest in aligning with this bloc or that bloc to advance their interests or provide the tools for armed conflict.

When this observer was a student at an American university in, one of the greatest reminiscences that come to mind is the active participation in promoting international cooperation among the different nationalities that made up the international student community at the campus. Through the international student's organization a large number of students found different activities in which not only did they get together and exchanged views, but worked to make such activities symbolic achievements of international cooperation. These included social gatherings (parties), seminars, bringing speakers of different views together to debate international issues and a crowing international festival that was considered the best cultural event of the university for the year. It was the most profitable and was the only event that generated the revenues that provided the International Student's Organization with the only budget surplus amongst all the cultural and student activity organizations. The university did not have to give the ISO any subsidies. Quite often departing students left with tears in their eyes for the friends they have come to make at the ISO, some of whom may be viewed as enemies, had they not been brought together by this dynamic organization. A cardinal rule in the ISO was any conflicts at home that governed the relationships between the countries of origin of students were not to be “argued” out based on the assumption that all problems that stood in the way are solvable. If they were discussed it was with a view to determining what are the options for coming out of the stalemates that have kept the conflicts carry on sometimes for centuries. The greatest conclusion most of the students came out with was that most of the reasons for conflict are motivated by erroneous perceptions of “the other side” by the disputants, and the years of misleading propaganda that has been forced upon the people of both sides, by selfish politicians, who exploited unwarranted animosities and age old misunderstandings to further their own political ambitions. On the other hand, the ISO adopted a philosophy that war should never be a mechanism for settling disputes, because there are really no winners in wars, and even the winning side is bound to take up a lot of agony and wasteful loss of lives and resources that all could have been used to better the lives of the people of both sides in a conflict.

In our present world, any country that seeks to dictate its political concepts and ideas upon the rest of the world, will come to find that even amongst its own people there are people, who believe that no nation should be granted such right and that even these ideas and philosophies may not be the ultimate option for all the people of the world to fall under. In the latest misadventure in Iraq, literally millions of Americans were openly against what they perceived as the arrogant attitude pursued by the George W. Bush Administration and openly sought to convince the international community that their government is not serving the interests of the United States nor is it representing the values upon which America was founded. This is significant in that it shows that people are willing to go as far as necessary in defending peaceful measures to settle matters of dispute between nations, rather than to take comfort in the amount of power amassed by any nation or side. Because of this greater inclination to make maximum use of the available lines of communications, people who may not agree with what certain governments pursue, will find that there are literally thousands of active opponents within the country of such government, to such policies. Thus animosities become diluted and do not take on a nation against nation manifestation. Increasing communications between people should be encouraged and one is inclined to believe this will provide a wide gateway to international cohesion and understanding.