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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 7: Peace With Nature

Extract

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Peace with Nature

What is a peaceful relationship with nature? In this chapter, we will answer by identifying four strands concerning this relationship. First, there is the conflict between humans and nature insofar it as divides us in an antagonistic or violent ‘us and them’. This would be violent insofar as humans instrumentalize the natural world, or treat it purely as a resource to be exploited. Second, typically, we don’t self-identify as part of the natural world. We tend to identify ourselves in terms that are non-natural or that negate or hide the fact that we are part of the natural world. For example, we tend to contrast ourselves non-derivatively with animals, as if we weren’t animals! Third, we ignore the importance that communal relations with the rest of nature have as a constituent part of well-being. At best, we think of our aesthetic experiences of communing with nature as an external cause of well-being rather than as a constituent part of it. This reinforces the instrumentalization. Finally, we humans tend to fall victim of a philosophical trap, a deep false dichotomy that may well lie at the root of the previous three points.←125 | 126→

Instrumentalizing Nature as Violence

Earlier we defined violence as causing harm in a dehumanizing or instrumentalizing manner. We now need to consider how this definition can be amplified to include other natural beings including the environment and the natural world in general.

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