Roland Dürre
Friday September 26th, 2014

”Project: Without War” or “My Project #nowar!”

I started this article on my way back home from the 2014 Berlin PM Camp (#pmcamp14ber) in the train. It was meant to document my sessions on the Camp between June, 20th and June, 22nd, 2014. And tonight, on the second day of my bike trip from Toblach to Maribor along the river Drau, I finally manage to finish it.

On the 2014 Berlin PM Camp (#pmcamp14ber) I “disburdened my heart”, proposing and conducting a session on the “Project Peace!“. For me personally, this session meant new frontiers. Consequently, I was grateful that the participants were not too critical and tolerated my weaknesses during the session. After all, this is what is so nice about many barcamps and also about the PM Camp: people listen carefully, yet they are tolerant.

I came up with a few theses during the session, offered some personal ideas and tried to create awareness for this world’s main dilemma: war. Above all, I asked many questions. This was because I wanted us all to find answers and to discover how we all and each of us individually can act towards peace. In all kinds of projects – every day and very individually.

Here is the short report of my session on “peace” from the Berlin PM Camp, followed by my first thesis of the session:

If we want to live in a world of peace, we all – individually and collectively, locally and globally – have to behave friendly and act in the interest of peace.

So here is my first question:

Is a world and society in peace really such an unimaginable utopia?


Let me remind you of a sentence I already found fascinating when I was quite young:
Imagine they declare war and nobody goes there!

The opinions of the participants on how high the chances for peace were differed hugely. As I see it, a slim majority shared my opinion: it is imaginable to have a society where life in peace is possible both internally and externally. Others believed that human nature and war are simply inseparable. When I heard this argument, my reply was that in that case “human nature” would have to change, just like individual persons and the society as a collective mass of persons will have to change.

I personally believe this is possible. More questions of mine were:

Why do we frivolously subordinate our behaviour to unimportant goals? 
Why do we always have to be right? 
Why do you always find this “self-righteousness of the just ones”? 
Why do we so often fight for unimportant things, at the same time forgetting what is really important to us? 
Why do we demand “punishment” when in reality we almost always mean “revenge”?
Why do we always plunder our resources in such a ruthless way and later try to steal what we no longer have from others?

After all, it is exactly this kind of thinking and behaviour which – so it seems to me – directly or indirectly causes “war”.

This, too, was a statement that triggered off totally different reactions among the participants. Especially the topic of “punishment and revenge” was discussed at great length. One of the questions was also if and to what extent punishment should be an indispensable part of “education”, also why/if force has to be the “ultima ratio” in politics? Maybe most of this world’s societies are actually “archaic force systems”? And maybe even our “developed” and “enlightened society” still is guilty in this sense in some areas?

My next theory was that, even if total peace is a utopia, we must still work towards it at all times. There are many rational reasons for this. And since the dangers humanity is facing are so immense, we simply cannot afford to waste our strength in wars. Basically, this is a rather reasonable approach, isn’t it?

Besides, some utopias in the past actually became reality. Just think of women’s rights. Not too long ago, they were not permitted to study at university – and the right to vote was truly utopian for women. The French Revolution, too, was just for men. And the first woman to demand exactly those rights for women was beheaded – by the revolutionaries!

During the session, I finally came up with the following statement:
As I see it, we need (to give) a purpose for social systems such as enterprises to be a success. And this is also necessary if we want our personal lives to be a success. How can anybody become a happy person without a purpose? Through all my life, this was what I believed. Consequently, I always tried to find a purpose in my life and my enterprises. Today, I see it a little differently. In fact, now I believe that, both in life and always, what matters is not having a purpose. What actually matters is the effect!

Let me re-formulate this: 


Effect has priority over purpose.

(Perhaps the effect will then automatically show you the purpose).

Today, I believe that, basically, there is only one true purpose to life. And that is to work towards peace. Simply because there is nothing more important. Consequently, I believe: 
We all have to take part in working towards peace!

Well, obviously, this is also true for me, which is why I initiated the session. In fact, I believe I should have done so a long time ago. Now I wish to catch up by as much as possible and fight my ignorance. Consequently, I am looking for comrades in arms who might be able and willing to help me. I would like to strongly rely on the young generation, the so-called “generation y”. This generation gives me hope, because it believes in the following values:

Consideration, acceptance, appreciation, eye-level, honour, enlightenment, joy, shared experiences, harmony, individualism, life, love, courage, purpose, respect, sharing, wealth, understanding, contentedness.

And all these values do not go with war.

Except: life is full of conflicts (I wonder why). Consequently, we need the competence to deal with conflicts. So we found a few rules during our session:

First rule:
Serenity: never join a conflict that is not worthy of it.

Second Rule:
Stop hating! You simply need to remember the “paradox of hatred”: Those who hate want to destroy someone else, yet they always only destroy themselves.

So what do we need in order to gain peace?

Education, learning, experience, joy, courage, responsibility, knowledge.

How can we gain this?

During the session, we came up with the following results:

Let us never forget that there is no absolute truth, only certainty!

Let us always question “collective constructs” and the “absolute truth”!

Let us replace enmity by philanthropy! 
Let us work towards social consensus.

Let us teach the people to behave “ethically responsible”.

We can succeed through civil courage and constructive disobedience. Let us all fight against “moral flippancy”. 
And let us always remember ourselves and our personal happiness. We can all learn and practice happiness.But it will not happen while we win over others or constantly increase our consumer habits.

However, we also talked about “being able to afford working towards peace”! Subsequently, we discusses if it is possible to modify our projects in this sense. And perhaps if we even could start peace projects.

The general agreement was that only a true grass root movement can bring peace. And that it will definitely not do any good to just join some Easter Peace March. Instead, we need persons who are seriously willing to work towards peace. Like John Lennon did. However, we also said that you have to be able to afford working towards peace. And that this is nowhere near as easy as it looks.

    Here is my personal summary of the session:

  • Minimize damage! Avoid collateral damage! Break the vicious circle of force..
  • Do good! You will find that collateral benefit follows suit!
  • Respect other persons and their opinions!
  • Never practice vengeance!
  • Honour and appreciate yourself – because only those who value themselves will also appreciate (like, love, accept,…) others. And those who manage to do so will not start or like war.
  • Contribute as far as possible towards the increase, rather than decrease, in many dimensions of your own and other person’s personal lives.
  • Always treat others at eye-level and with respect..
  • Always make other persons look bigger, rather than smaller.
    (Making others small might well mean you turn others into beggars).

I believe:

All these things must work both on a small and on a huge scale. If we can manage peace individually, then we will also succeed in bringing it to the systems we support.
The real challenge lies in our daily behaviour. Every one of us can and must contribute. The longer your lever because you are a manager, an entrepreneur or otherwise in a position where your ideas multiply, the more effect you can have! And the greater is your obligation to work towards peace.

Consequently, my vision for what should always motivate us is: 
All our projects promote peace. Both interior and exterior peace. And if some projects do not do so, let us re-define them! Let us make them peace projects.

Why should this not work out? How can we get there? Aren’t those some good questions for the next PM Camp?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

I see quite a few encouraging factors. For instance the history of WW-1 (yesterday evening, I browsed through a program which illustrated battlefields of WW-1. Again, I felt how all this carnage is quite pointless).

The generally accepted tale about WW-1 is that the people in Germany and Austria actually wanted war. That is what I learned at school and never understood as a young boy.

Today, current historical research teaches me that this statement is simply wrong. The proof was manipulated at the time and later on simply taken at face value. Perhaps WW-1 was also history’s first media war. And the media were controlled by the powerful ruling “elite”. Consequently, the media did everything to boost and then document the war enthusiasm.

However, the majority of “simple” citizens never wanted war. Only some of them allowed themselves to be manipulated and went onto the streets to join the cries for war. And later, all of them had to pay a bitter price.

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