Sunday, December 7, 2008

Constructive steps for a lasting peace

The things that can be done to stop terror are quite complicated. One needs to fight at it various levels and from various angles. I am accumulating points from various sources on what can be implemented; so expect this list to change and get clarified over time.

Long term and continous things to be done
1. There are deep rooted prejudices that we all carry with us which surface and overtake us when mayhem strikes. This is being amply demonstrated on several Facebook groups and many other sites on the net. When things are calm, we must introspect and see if we can remove all our prejudices ... or as much hatred from within us as we can. This can be done by friendly discussions, sports, cultural exchange, etc. Every culture, religion, region has good points. Learn from each other. 

2. At an economic level, get as much equality as possible, without indulging in hand-outs. This is a huge task and not really in the hands of you and me. The governments should work on it. 

Nobody is looking at this aspect of the Mumbai incident: After the recent financial crisis, two countries are surely expected to rise quickly and shine. One is China and the other is India. But today the citizens are reduced to squabbling about religious issues when probably we should be getting right back to work. When we work, we produce money for the country. That money should trickle down and uplift the quality of life. When people are poor, they can be easily bribed to become a terrorist. 

3. Every religion has two aspects: A theology and an underlying philosophy. They are not the same. Theology concerns itself with beliefs regarding God, various traditions, etc. Philosophy inside the religion concerns itself with how those beliefs come together to help out people in a practical manner. Not many understand the difference. In fact, those who blindly accept God without also understanding the philosophy of the religion is quite likely to make mistakes. This needs to be corrected. So the leaders of each religion has to go about setting this right. Or there is one more choice: Become an atheist (like me) where one deals with human issues directly without first routing it through religion

4. Dont indulge in stereotypes and generalizations. Many people do not seem to understand the fallacies they are inadvertently making on this (and other) sites. So let me quote an example I've written before here: 

Many get confused between attributes of a collective and those of individuals. Some of the attributes can be transferred from the collective to the individual. But some cannot. For e.g. I can say "This crowd of people coming from this mosque are muslims" but I cannot say "This crowd of people are bad" why? Because the entire range of "goodness" (to which the quality "bad" belongs to) can only be applied to individuals and not to the collective to which the individual belongs to. Similarly, some attributes can only be applied to a collective and not to individuals. For e.g. I can say "this crowd can move that large stone". Why? Because of the collective strength of that crowd. That does not mean each of that individual will be able to move that stone.

Now in the above example; I happened to chose "muslims" coming out of a mosque. Don't get distracted by that. I could have very well chosen "hindus" coming out of a temple, "christians" coming out of a church, etc.

What I am trying to establish here is that by making sweeping generalizations, we only get a convenient pattern in our own little minds and nothing more. It really does not solve problems out in the world. It is individuals who do cruel things, like indoctrinating others that generalizations are true and valid everywhere. When things are calm, the well-wisher of each country/religion MUST remove generalization and ask people to recognize and acknowledge individual human being's attributes and not mistake the crowd for the individual (or the other way around)

Immediate things to be done when terror strikes
1. Whenever such events happen, it should not be over-dramatized by the media. There should be strictly no blood or gore shown on TV or anywhere. For the sake of democracy, it should be recorded clearly and nothing is to be missed. But don't make it like a cricket game with commentary. I heard that some stupid channel was even providing dramatic background music!

2. When an event is in progress, we need to support the government in whatever measures that are being taken. That is not really the time to say whether the NSG came late or the Navy was inefficient or whatever. Because we live in a world of "relativity" and not "absolutes" Nobody can stake claim that he knows with absolute certainity that the NSG should have come in 3 hours and because it took 4 hours, it is a big culprit. Hang on! Let people do their job. Everyone is wanting to get the blessed job done. I am an optimist. I believe even the most corrupt of politician surely is a human being and would put aside his corruption and focus on solving the problem when people are dying.

3. Fix blame carefully. Give people a long rope so that when they hang themselves, they will do it well and proper. So don't be hasty in accusing people who caused the event. They will try to get away. Humor them for sometime (if that is what is needed) . Let them believe that they don't have a rope around their neck and only then tighten the noose...then there is simply no way for them to run. Again the media must wait!

4. If by some reason we are in that event, we must fight tooth and nail against anyone who is trying to disrupt peace and cause any kind of loss. If some kind of training can help citizens in this; it would be nice. But I will not recommend that each of us becomes a vigilante which can only lead to paranoia. There are some very nice survival guides available on the net which can help


manish said...

"Give people a long rope so that when they hang themselves, they will do it well and proper." - would you care to elaborate?

Sabu Francis said...

"A long rope to hang" is a phrase; though a bit hackneyed, which points to a method used to solve complicated problems that have perceptions/mental-blocks on the part of the parties.

One way to ensure that a person who is guilty does not get away is to use what they call a "Socratic argument" Socrates was famous for getting into debates with people where he will first attempt; quite genuinely, by agreeing with the other party. Socrates will not try to attack him or say the other party is wrong. Then he will ask a series of questions that effectively ensures that the other party detects for himself the internal contradictions that may be present in his argument. Let us say that the other party really did not have a mental block and was indeed telling the correct point ... then Socrates was left richer by the conversation.

Lawyers use this "hang with a long rope" Socratic arguments technique all the time. In fact, the method is actually taught in law schools. Good diplomats are also very good at this technique.

Socratic arguments is sometimes thought to be long drawn; but it need not be necessarily so. The disadvantage of a Socratic argument is that it sometimes misconstrued as if "Socrates" knows everything and he is simply poking fun at the other party. This is called a Socratic Irony. One of the main reason why Socrates was put in jail (and eventually he was forced to drink poison) was because many people got annoyed by his way of arguing.