During the last two years, I have truly enjoyed writing my This Week in Conflict reports, but alas, the time has come for me to take an extended, and perhaps permanent, break from it.
My goal for the reports was to learn more about what was going on in some of the more obscure conflicts on our planet and try to share that news in the most concise way. The real challenge I found was trying to get at the reality of the situation via news reports, and to try and verify the content. One thing I found was that frequently, 90% of the news I was coming across was a summary of one original report. Another difficulty came in trying to find more views of the situation, particularly local views, especially when I don’t speak the language(s) in that area or region. I thank the many people who sent in news stories, accounts or content to help me better understand.
Another setback of constantly reading bad news and reporting on it is the moral and emotional toll it takes on you. Though there were many positive stories on peace over the years, the vast majority was on the violent aspect of conflicts. Sometimes the stories were difficult to stomach.
The biggest challenge however, I found personally, was to try to be neutral over conflicts I had seen on the ground and lived through. I found myself remembering the situations I had lived and being much more selective with my choice of news stories to try and ensure a balance in what I wrote. I’m not sure I always succeeded.
My knowledge of global affairs has increased greatly to an extent that I started to recognize patterns in the conflicts. I began to expect to see stories on certain types of violence and abuses in certain regions. I would have loved to do a more thorough backgrounder for each of the countries/territories/areas if I had had the time. The layers are so deep—I think it would have been helpful to have started with that just so I would have been more prepared to know where to look for stories and content.
I’m back to living in Canada again, after several years in the Ivory Coast/Cote d’Ivoire. I’m happy to be home. With any luck, I will be returning to school again in the fall, but this time, with a direction in peacebuilding, and a more positive outlook on how the future can look.
Maybe for now a peaceful world is only a theoretical utopia studied and philosophized about in the academic world, but so is the ideal of capitalism, or communism or any other global system we’ve thought of before. For the longest time, I felt that the human world was doomed; that we would just continue to be violent with each other until the end of our time simply because it’s “human nature”. It’s not human nature. Humans are actually mostly programmed towards positive social behaviour. We spend most of our day collaborating or working or talking or sometimes even just tolerating others. It’s a necessary part of society.
Peace studies is only still in its infancy. Since really delving into it over the past year or so, I have found that I now envision other options. I can see a distant future with better systems, more happiness; a world where resources are more equitably shared and perhaps even a world where all have enough of what they need to not only survive, but thrive. It will take time, little by little, but I now see it as a real possibility; human beings actually working together for the betterment of our species and our planet, instead of fighting amongst each other and destroying all of the world’s wonders.
There will always be conflict. It’s unavoidable. When it happens, we can choose to be violent, we can choose to see ways to transform the conflict non-violently, we can choose to try to avoid it altogether; there’s a whole host of responses that are possible. Sometimes it’s extremely difficult to choose how to handle the conflict around us. Human emotions are a powerful thing. Giving people options by teaching and constantly reinforcing more positive conflict resolution skills in our societies, especially from childhood, to me is of utmost importance to take us in this direction and something I hope to seriously study and be more a part of in the future.
As I move on to the next, hopefully more peaceful period in my life, my priorities have changed and so I must give up this daily writing on conflict to move on to new ideas. I will still write in the blog, but likely less regularly and hopefully more positively from now on.
Thanks to all my kind readers and those who sent many thoughtful comments my way over the years to help make the reports better! Your assistance has been much appreciated!
Peace to all!