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Understanding Peace Holistically

From the Spiritual to the Political

Scherto Gill and Garrett Thomson

Understanding Peace Holistically: From the Spiritual to the Political argues that spiritually rooted and morally oriented peacefulness is relevant to the socio-economic–political structures that provide the conditions for a culture of peace. As the authors build up a theory of peace from the spiritual to the relational and communal towards the socio-political, this book also identifies key principles that characterise international and institutional processes that nurture peace. The holistic conception of peace developed in this book may guide and inspire individuals, institutions, and international organisations with regards to how to make peace.

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Chapter 5: Peace With the Past

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Peace with the Past

Violence and acrimonies of the past form a serious challenge to interpersonal peace: groups often remain enemies because of past hurts. Unhealed historical traumas become embedded in a group’s memories, and this perpetuates violence. Bitterness and resentment may frame our self-identifications, and initiate antagonistic dynamics in the experience of the other, as outlined in Chapter 3 (Section V). These crystalize as antipathies that are integrated as part of a culture and an identity. In these ways, the past can define present relationships as ones of friend or of foe.

In this chapter, we discuss the importance of making peace with the past. To begin, we investigate what conflict is and advance an analysis of broad trajectories in conflict to reveal the development of violence. This analysis will inform our understanding of conflict and its place in human relationships, and the potentially enriching effect it has on creating constructive and desirable change within the wider social processes. This also suggests that the lenses through which we observe and understand conflict have implications for how we transform conflict. Following that, we discuss the interconnections between large-group identity and past violence. Situating relationships at the heart of well-being, we want to highlight the role that collective pain, loss and shame can play in the construction of large-group identity. Additionally,←89 | 90→ we take a brief look at the notion of justice, which always has a significant place in making peace with the...

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