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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 6: Peace in Communities



Peace in Communities

How might we live peacefully with others in interpersonal groupings or in communities, such as a village, a city, a country, and even as the whole world? In these contexts, how we understand the notion of community is central to peacefulness. However, as we shall see, there is a general lack of clarity in defining ‘community’, despite an overall assumption that communities are desirable, if not an imperative for the human way of being together. So, we will investigate the following questions: How do communities relate to human well-being? What counts as peace in communities? What are the necessary processes for building peace in communities? The answers to these questions are important because all human beings belong to, and are embedded in, some form of community.1 Likewise, harmonious relationships in and between communities constitute a major expression of peacefulness.

Given its significance for human’s togetherness, the idea of a community needs unpacking,2 and this requires us to challenge two assumptions, both of which are major obstacles for intergroup harmony and peacefulness. The first concerns the conventional view that tends to presume a connection between identity conflict and intercommunal violence. Typically, it is claimed that almost all violent conflicts consist in clashes between different group identities based on, for instance, nationality, ethnicity or religious affiliation.3 Some←109 | 110→ writers have even suggested that, since the end of the Cold War, most violent conflicts have been identity-based, such as the Balkan...

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