Photo by Jeff Kingma / Unsplash

Six Alternatives to War (#ins7)

Insights Nov 9, 2021

Our world sells us the premise that war is essential at times. That there is no other option for us. That we have no choice. That there is only one ultimate solution to conflict, and that's to physically destroy our enemy.

But is it really so? Or are there options that we have that we aren't considering? Must we destroy lives, families, and societies to accomplish a certain perceived safety and security?

Of course there are options. There ARE alternatives to war. There ARE alternatives. Most definitely. Many, many alternatives.

Let's go through a brainstorming exercise here, starting with less violent options and then some truly non-violent options:

  • Sanctions – The most common and closest parallel to war is economic sanctions – or in other words, an economic war. Instead of physical attack, we place economic barriers on a nation to try to 'squeeze' them to agree with our position or demands. It is still a form of violence, and those who personally suffer are generally not making the decisions in the first place. And it certainly leads to resentment, so still not mature.
  • Compromise – Negotiate a compromise through a transaction. "We do this for you, and you do that for us." Offer something in exchange for something rather than attain our way through force. Both parties will appear to be satisfied after this happens, but it's temporary and conditional – not getting at the root.
  • Bribery – Bribing has a  negative connotation – but compared to taking lives, it is preferable and even noble. If we could bribe specific decision-makers who might instigate violence by offering them something for their personal gain, lives could be saved. That said, bribery also isn't getting at the root of conflict.

The alternatives above are ultimately not coming from more profound wisdom or true non-violence. We need solutions that reflect others are not separate from us. Let's look at more mature alternatives:

  • Sports – if we must compete against one another, then let's do it with sports. Sports is a powerful, nay potent, alternative to violent conflict. Our desire, competition, and pride can vent beautifully through sport and our integrity and goodwill through sportsmanship. If one must throw ourselves into conflict and give expression to it, let it be in the arena of sport.
  • Perspective Sharing - have ambassadors from potential warring countries share their perspectives and pain with each other's citizens, communicating the dilemma they face and the struggle they are going through.
  • Intermingling – let the people of the potentially warring nation come together, have discussions, enjoy a cup of coffee with each other, and talk about each other's goals, aspirations, hopes, dreams, and fears. The willingness for war dissipates, and our hatred might very well be replaced by a willingness to become friends.

The sky is the limit when it comes to alternatives. And be inventive with options we can be. With all the influential inventions, discoveries, and insights we've come to throughout human history, it's high time we apply the same ingenuity in assuaging violent conflict.

It's essential to keep in mind, and hold close to our hearts, the stark reality that fighting war is always a lose-lose situation. When human lives are threatened or taken, there are no victors.

Let's take our alternatives seriously.

Ranjeeth Thunga
Perspective Mapper

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