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The Underlining Assumptions in Conflict Transformation

Conflict is a natural human trait. It exists at all levels, within and between individuals, groups, communities, countries and cultures. The important issue is how one deals with conflict. It is either allowed to deteriorate into violent action, or it may be recognised as an opportunity to address and transcend the underlying contradictions and deep cultures into a positive and creative opportunity.

Simplified approaches to conflict resolution do not bring sustainable results. We need to address the deep cultures of the ‘collective subconscious’ lying below the surface and made up of assumptions and unquestioned beliefs inherited by people as members of a community or ethnic group. They compose our underlying values and perceptions about the ‘self’ (humane, brave, honourable, clever, industrious, right religious beliefs) and the ’other’ (barbarian, coward, cannot be trusted, stupid, lazy, wrong religious beliefs).

Social change from popular ideologies of the past can only take place through persistent, often painful, and well- designed long processes of public education that will eventually lead to a grass roots understanding of the Peace Culture and secure grass roots support for the need for change.

Most cultural change strategies fail not because of their content, but because of deficiencies in their process. This imperative need for process is rarely recognised.

Traditional education, being departmentalised into disciplines and state controlled, is too slow, or unable, to recognise new realities and the need to design for social change. Consequently, we consider the process of the development of a healthy, effective, and sustainable Social Change Process as being beyond the capacities of the State. An outstanding example is the current teaching methodology and the content of the history curriculum, which contrary to International and EU conventions, breeds national supremacy ideology and blind 'patriotism'.

Politicians are not best suited to bring about social change because, in so doing, they run the risk of being voted out by the voters they seek to change. Furthermore, people in power are usually too busy with their personal agenda of maintaining that power indefinitely and they are not themselves motivated for change. This situation is so painfully evident in young democracies where politicians are in a hegemonic relationship with their voters.

We consider political action in the interest of Peace as a legitimate activity of civil society. Therefore, we are determined to question the idea that only politicians can talk politics. We will seek to upgrade civil society from its current charity function legitimacy, to that of a Social Change Agent engaged in active citizen diplomacy.