Peace Thinking Tank 16.12.2010

A far from peaceful debate, though with slightly more convergence around barriers to peace than we saw regarding desirability or actions for peace.

There were clearly different schools of thought – the peaceniks and the economists for one.

The most strongly supported statements throughout the discussion was about the challenge of peace (less appealing than polarity):

  • It brings focus to be against something. A sense of unity. Easier to agree on what we hate than what we love

Building on the earlier statement:

  • Polarity give us a feeling of safety or of “righteousness” it is clearer to see what one stands for.

Guest participants
As a new feature we had “guest” participants – relevant quotes from a range of well known people. Not all of them went down well, but top performers were

  • When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” Peace Pilgrim
  • Without conflict, there is no progress or change.” Marx
  • As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.” Nelson Mandela
  • If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” Dalai Lama

And these views were reflected in our conclusions at the end of the debate:

  • more than ever we need leaders who are able to move the crowd in an ethical way
  • funny he we talk about world peace and yet our own peace over Xmas is a challenge :)
  • I like the comment that peace requires “material and cultural equilibrium”  bit this may be the start of a possible solution!

Barriers to peace – religion, poverty and ignorance

Before we got there though, we considered why peace is so elusive – what gets in our way?

  • Religion was an early suspect: Or power struggles USE religious beliefs to generate loyalty
  • And poverty: how can you feel peace in your heart when you are hungry every day
  • Lack of guidance: Who teaches children about peace? parents, schoolteachers, priests, etc: – not many of them
  • And greed: We don’t want to be equal, we are greedy to be better off than average. So we encroach on each other

Personal actions

As usual, at the end of the debate we considered the actions we could take personally. In the course of the discussion, some developed an appetite for peace action:

  • There is still time to do something for peace in 2010! 15 more days!
  • Support charities working for peace!
  • In the home / workplace / community / traffic jam I might try to notice when I’m taking a polarity position instead of a wholeness one
  • make peace with one of my enemies
  • I am buying peace as my xmas presents

Do we have to suffer to be beautiful? Health debate 07.07.09

The conversation was dominated by concerns about body weight—plastic surgery, tattoos, piercing were barely mentioned. There was a spirited defence of heavier bodies by some  and almost universal disapproval of extreme thinness and its promotion.

The beauty industry has more effect on our body image than partner, family and friends, but 40% still feel their own point of view is the most important (all statements quoted here achieved at least 70% support).

The majority of the group felt it was “crucial to act” to address the issue of media pressure on all of us to look a certain way.

  • I like that eg mascara ads now say “with false eyelashes”. Its reassuring. All beauty ads should have to declare their fakeness.

Advantages of more body image interest

The group acknowledged that interest in how we look is not all bad…

  • it is a luxury and a privilege to be living at a time in civilisation when we can afford this indulgence in how we look – not just fighting to survive
  • focus on health and fitness

Disadvantages of more body image interest

But there were many more strongly supported statements concerning the disadvantages which included increased incidence of eating disorders among children, a tendency to be superficial and an

  • emphasis on appearance rather than being

Action points

There were mixed feelings on public education about healthy eating with some wariness of nanny state tendencies. But certainly interest in a more personal approach

  • Important to be with our kids and help them interpret these messages, reminding them they have a choice (and reminding ourselves too!)

Keeping the conversation going and extending to new audiences was seen as important too:

  • make this technology available for kids to have conversations too
  • ..and people working within the various beauty industries might benefit from the opportunity to participate in this kind of conversation

LINKS

Rosa, advocacy group for women and girls

Womankind Worldwide, development agency

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