The project Pushing peace? concerns a quest for answers to the question whether it is possible to instigate peacemaking in communities currently waging war on one another, and if this can be effected through the use of TV images and other mass-communication media
War propaganda works. But can propaganda also be used to inspire the ‘ignorant masses' to move towards peace?
Donate to Pushing Peace ? Giro 4885924
Postgiro 4885924 - Stichting Vrede Maakbaar - Amsterdam - The Netherlands.
International Bank Account Number (IBAN): NL59PSTB0004885924
BIC code Postbank : PSTBN L21
Keynotes Pushing Peace
One of the keynotes of this endeavour is that ‘the message' will be conveyed by associates who have no direct involvement in the conflict. It is unnecessary to specify their identity.
The project offers a platform to anyone with the urge to translate frustration or engagement into action. This will take the form of ‘commercials' directed at both warring parties, to demonstrate the distastefulness of the conflict and to inspire them to seek other solutions.
The medium takes the form of a reality-docu-soap which unfolds gradually. Every step of the quest will be recorded on image/sound recording media and edited in digestible segments. These will be distributed via television and/or Internet which will enable viewers to voice their reactions and offer suggestions or services.
In this way Pushing peace? functions on a grassroots level : the message goes from one blade of grass to the other, from lawn to lawn.
Everyone is welcome to contribute in whichever way they can: in brainpower, ideas, hard cash or manpower in one form or another.
The idea is that, through resourcing our collective intelligence and talents, a strong enough momentum will be generated to really have an effect.
The identity of the individual behind an initiative is not important whereas a ‘soft core' ensuring continuity in the process is essential. A foundation established to safeguard boundaries and administer finances will oversee all projects.
Currently the project is addressing the conflict between Palestinians and Jews - in and around Israel . A forthcoming project could entail dialogue and integration between the immigrant and local Dutch populations in West Amsterdam.
The starting-point of the quest ‘happens' to be in Amsterdam . This is simply because Amsterdam has a special responsibility as forerunner in the development of the new spiritual world order.
Pushing peace? is also an unorthodox journalistic project.
Or could Pushing peace? be a collective work of art?
The ‘Vrede Maakbaar?' Foundation
The Foundation ‘Vrede Maakbaar?' has been set up to investigate the possibilities of de-escalating conflicts between (large) groups of people through employing all conceivable means of media communication and based on an objective viewpoint (a neutral and politically non-involved party).
To further define the concept of ‘conflict areas' examples such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict come to mind, clashing ethnic groups in Africa, North Ireland, the tensions between black and white communities in South Africa and in the territories that have been created from former Yugoslavia, but it also includes the tension between ethnic or immigrant groups in large cities.
Special attention is given to the role of mass-media in e.g. television, radio and internet, with regard to the analysis of their contribution to such large-scale conflicts in general, as well as to their potential use in conscious influence (pacification) of large groups of people in particular.
Due to the media-oriented focus of the foundation the aim has been established to systematically record all activities of the foundation in such a way that the process of the quest itself can be followed and that a comprehensive and directive report will be created for outsiders.
It is of paramount concern to the Foundation to safeguard and clearly manifest its independent position.
The objectivity and uninvolved stance of the observers, even if witnessing acts of violence, challenges their integrity but is vital for the legitimacy of the initiative.
The Foundation board of Stichting Vrede Maakbaar? :
President - Dr. Fred Grünfeld - Professor at Maastricht Centre for Human Rights.
Secretary - Harry de Winter - Producer & Media Specialist.
Treasurer - Tonco Arondeus - Tax Law Specialist and Thinker.
Statutory: Article 2.
The aims of the Foundation are:
To investigate the possibilities of using means of (mass) communication from the position of a neutral and non-political party (sideline perspective) to influence conflicts between (large) groups of people (religious, ethnic, tribal, historical) in the direction of de-escalation.
The Foundation endeavours to achieve its aims through the use of mass media communication in the broadest sense to promote the above-mentioned beneficial effects..
The Foundation is explicitly non-profit oriented.
“Themes and Aspects of Participation”
In more or less random order:
To research a selection of the most important models (paradigms) of reputable international peace mediators and institutes ( Clingendael, The Carter Institute etc.) in order to ‘tap' ideas and gather inspiration for the production of a (number of) broadcast(s) on location. What kind of message would the various institutes themselves choose to present if direct TV (satellite) time was available to them which would be viewed by both parties in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and was intended to promote de-escalation?
The history : What is the background of the conflict? What is the separate – but above all the shared history of the populations in conflict with one another? At what point did their paths separate? Which factors in the division bear a symbolic significance? Is it possible to pin-point a moment in history when the two combating peoples were unified - or fraternal communities? The history of the conflict from the viewpoint of a Palestinian and of an Israeli historian. à The different ways in which history can be told. Which viewpoint do you choose? The implication here is that one has options in how one regards the conflict.
Relevant in the consideration of large conflicts: man as herd animal. How is the balance between individual (thinking-) space versus the pressure from the group to which you think you belong. The more people identify themselves with a group the more ‘stupid' they become and their behaviour becomes more primitive or irresponsible. Which mechanisms play a role in the shift from individual to group animal and vice-versa? This refers to negative aspects : a threat from ‘outside' (fear) is a powerful incentive for group cohesion. For example: the NATO attacks on former Yugoslavia turned even a third-generation Serbian in The Netherlands into a full-blood (patriotic)Serbian. But this also applies to positive elements : to relinquish your individuality and to be absorbed into a greater whole could be very agreeable or attractive. Think for instance about membership of a football supporters' club, of that 'stadium' feeling during a football match or membership of a union or broadcasting company. War can also generate an extremely agreeable ‘sense of belonging'.
The significance of territory in general and particularly in conflicts. What role does territory play for humans and animals in regard to concepts such as safety and (as the symbol-bearer of) group and individual identity?
Power (pecking order): is an important factor in the cohesion within a group or herd. Various kinds of power held by the group ( e.g. taken or given) determine the nature of a herd ( a group, an organisation, a population). Which authority would you want to undermine and what would you replace it with? What reactions can be expected from the official and unofficial authorities ( powers) to interventions by (‘independent') outsiders?
What can biology teach us about the above items?
How is the relationship between the individual and the group seen in biology? (e.g. an individual bee versus a swarm of bees: What is the complete picture?)
How do animals start conflicts (aggression) but more importantly: how do they make peace? And why exactly?
Swarm intelligence ” : How do flocks of birds, schools of fish or colonies of ants function? On this subject scientists ( e.g. Bonabue, James Kennedy, Rissel: Swarm intelligence in artificial life) have developed successful models. Can these (simple) laws also be applied in some way to human herd behaviour?
Can the deeply engraved age-old paradigms of conflict or war, such as an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth , be redirected to more intelligent and advantageous basic principles for both parties? An eye for an eye is quite effective as a preventive instrument but once a conflict has erupted becomes extremely counterproductive and destructive. By means of which paradigms can such action-reaction spirals be changed into more intelligent collective protection measures? For instance: Action instead of reaction patterns; taking responsibility for personal behaviour and for the situation as a whole; of making conscious choices in your actions, taking into account the consequences for both parties and in the realization of being caught together within a spiral of violence.
Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Ken Wilbur: the development of our collective intelligence. A conflict between, for instance, East and West in terms of a clash due to the divergent stages of development. Sets of so-called ‘ Me-Men' who cannot tolerate one another and are impelled to fight to the death. How can areas of tension like this be overcome?
To relate the above to the individual: How do you cope with the unjust treatment you and those close to you have experienced in the past, are experiencing now and could experience in the future? Are there alternatives to revenge ? How can the pain you and your people have undergone transform into emotions or actions which will not only profit you but also the ‘culprit' in the here and now or in the near future e.g. Mandela-like wizardry or initiatives such as those of Prime Minister Sadat of Egypt.
The influence and possibilities of mass-media: recent history reveals numerous examples of extremely successful war propaganda. Can this expertise be converted into peace propaganda just like that? What should the message be? How do you attract and hold the audience's attention and how do you present the communication experts? Moral dilemmas? Who are we to decide what is good for others? This would include the grey area of ‘objective' journalism versus propaganda.
Positive future scenarios: What would a collective future without war look like? The generation of solution-focused vision : setting the problem aside for a moment. How would the world (your world) look if a wonder took place (the conflict ceased to exist)? Are there already any signs ? What form do they take and are there any favourable exceptions to the general misery of the present status quo?
In search of allies in both camps : factions or new charismatic leaders in one or preferably both parties, who could interpret or strengthen the effectiveness of messages formulated through an external medium. How can they be found and how do you approach them?
Legal aspects: boundaries and openings within international law in relation to independent external intervention. Local (political) opinions about freedom of speech via mass-media.
The big money : The search for mega-sponsers such as Soros, Bill Gates and the Rupert Murdochs ( whose interest could lie in a more advanced stage of the quest) to use their resources/influence to realise the ‘hardware' : in order to enable the broadcasting of one (or a series of) critically selected broadcast(s). Satellite-transmission time, satellite receivers, translators etc. Also including research into the technological practicalities.
The assessment of risks and dangers involved in a peace mission like this: could it aggravate the situation? Could a halt to conflict be even worse than war? Risks for the initiators? The implicit and explicit dangers of propaganda, however well-meant (Hitler was an idealist with exclusively good intentions).
Everyone who is inspired and/or has the energy to contribute to this project is wholeheartedly welcome.
Support in material and immaterial form is always useful.
Production activities : helping to make ‘it' possible. Preparation of documentaries, contact with broadcasting associates, researching potential sources of backing – also financial, including ( see following)
Fund-raising activities : helping with fund management, but also taking personal initiative in locating and addressing existing funds and the creative generation of new financial, technical or other material resources.
Editorial activities : contacts with people, searching for interesting sources, exploring existing or newly-developed texts, audio or video material. Combining expertise. Production of reviews and excerpts. Innovating and outlining the course of action.
Montage : Many hours of interviews with extremely diverse individuals are already recorded on digital video and awaiting editing, as well as fragments of documentaries. There is much useful work to be done here, to distil the essence and to select the best/most effective fragments and eventually adapt them for internet. Experience in editing is not necessarily essential, every contribution is welcome. Equipment is available or will be made available.
Translation : if you are fluent in English, Arabic or Hebrew you could greatly contribute through making the website multilingual, or providing subtitles for documentary material.
Web support : Supplementing the website, keeping it up-to-date and the editing of useable fragments. Strategic arrangement and lay-out – the total graphic design.
In principle, funds are not available for the above-mentioned activities. However, if adequate specified funds are generated they will be distributed in an honest and above all, a transparent way.
Ideas are always welcome, in any shape or form: reactions to existing analyses, approaches and plans, as well as any personal brilliant brainwaves.
Contact André Havas
1015 NG Amsterdam
tel: 06 53656880
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