Peaceful Language is a Pre-Requisite for Peaceful relationships and a Peaceful World.

Peaceful language is a pre-requisite for peaceful relationships and  a peaceful world.

Kevin P Clements


I am appalled at the ways in which so much negative othering is occurring at the present time.

The Left and Right Wings of the British Labour Party   are embroiled in deep ideological and political division to no-one’s advantage. There is a deep and growing rift between Moslems and non Moslems since the attacks in Paris.

Over the past three weeks, there has been a doubling of complaints made to the UK race relations commissioner reporting anti-islamic prejudice and hate crimes.

The group Hope not Hate has chronicled 920 anti-muslim organisations and leading Islamaphobes in 22 different countries. Eight US foundations have given more than £38 million to such groups since the 9/11 attacks which means that we are in for some rocky times as wealth and prejudice are combined.

We have to combat hate crimes everywhere irrespective of source or target. The Left does not build solidarity amongst its members with ad hominen arguments, political threats or the politics of revenge.

The Tory Party does not win friends by providing cover for a group of youthful Tory bully boys. Donald Trump continues to defy political gravity with a campaign of bombast and prejudice and must also be resisted.

The fact is we will not build peace, stability or resilient community if we /they engage in hate speech which disrespects those who think or behave differently from us/them.

Trust and   respect hinges on each one of us, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Left or Right, according everyone basic human dignity. If we do not treat others as we would wish to be treated we will generate fear, loathing and hatred. If this hate speech is combined with military power and violence we are on a very slippery path to generating intractable, national, regional and global cycles of vicious violence.

As those of us who opposed additional bombing in Syria predicted, this foolish decision,is already generating violent “blow back “ in San Bernadino and on the streets of London .

These are dangerous times which require all of us to dig deep into our common humanity. We must    build bridges across all boundaries of difference and   nonviolently resist all efforts from whatever quarter to dehumanise and demonise the other as is happening all around the world at the present time.

Bertolt Brecht who was a dedicated activist as well as poet and writer, acknowledged , many years ago that revolutions would achieve nothing if we could not be kind with ourselves and kind with others-including those with whom we disagreed.

For we knew only too well:
Even the hatred of squalor
Makes the brow grow stern.
Even anger against injustice
Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
Could not ourselves be kind.
I enclose the whole poem for all of us to reflect on.

Bertolt Brecht-Poem to Posterity.

  1. Indeed I live in the dark ages!
    A guileless word is an absurdity. A smooth forehead betokens
    A hard heart. He who laughs
    Has not yet heard
    The terrible tidings.

    Ah, what an age it is
    When to speak of trees is almost a crime
    For it is a kind of silence about injustice!
    And he who walks calmly across the street,
    Is he not out of reach of his friends
    In trouble?

    It is true: I earn my living
    But, believe me, it is only an accident.
    Nothing that I do entitles me to eat my fill.
    By chance I was spared. (If my luck leaves me
    I am lost.)

    They tell me: eat and drink. Be glad you have it!
    But how can I eat and drink
    When my food is snatched from the hungry
    And my glass of water belongs to the thirsty?
    And yet I eat and drink.

    I would gladly be wise.
    The old books tell us what wisdom is:
    Avoid the strife of the world
    Live out your little time
    Fearing no one
    Using no violence
    Returning good for evil —
    Not fulfillment of desire but forgetfulness
    Passes for wisdom.
    I can do none of this:
    Indeed I live in the dark ages!


    I came to the cities in a time of disorder
    When hunger ruled.
    I came among men in a time of uprising
    And I revolted with them.
    So the time passed away
    Which on earth was given me.

    I ate my food between massacres.
    The shadow of murder lay upon my sleep.
    And when I loved, I loved with indifference.
    I looked upon nature with impatience.
    So the time passed away
    Which on earth was given me.

    In my time streets led to the quicksand.
    Speech betrayed me to the slaughterer.
    There was little I could do. But without me
    The rulers would have been more secure. This was my hope.
    So the time passed away
    Which on earth was given me.


    You, who shall emerge from the flood
    In which we are sinking,
    Think —
    When you speak of our weaknesses,
    Also of the dark time
    That brought them forth.

    For we went,changing our country more often than our shoes.
    In the class war, despairing
    When there was only injustice and no resistance.

    For we knew only too well:
    Even the hatred of squalor
    Makes the brow grow stern.
    Even anger against injustice
    Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
    Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
    Could not ourselves be kind.

    But you, when at last it comes to pass
    That man can help his fellow man,
    Do no judge us
    Too harshly.

    translated by H. R. Hays



About kevinclements2012

Short CV Professor Kevin P Clements. I am the Foundation Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, Dunedin New Zealand and Secretary General of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy. Prior to taking up these positions I was the Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia . I went to Queensland from International Alert where I was Secretary General from January 1999 to September 2003. International Alert is one of the world’s largest NGOs working on conflict transformation. It pioneered innovative policy and practical approaches to conflict prevention and transformation in Africa ,Eurasia and Asia . It has also made a major contribution to the mainstreaming of conflict prevention within European Foreign and Development Ministries, the EU and a variety of UN institutions. During his time there I was on the Board of the European Centre for Conflict Prevention and past President of the European Peace Building Liaison Office in Brussels. Prior to becoming Secretary General of International Alert I was the Vernon and Minnie Lynch Chair of Conflict Resolution at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University Fairfax Virginia USA 1994-2000 and Director of the Institute from 1994-1999. My career has been a combination of academic analysis and practice in the areas of peacebuilding and conflict transformation. I was, for example, formerly Director of the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva and Head of the Peace Research Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra .Prior to this I was Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Coordinator of Peace Studies at Canterbury University, Christchurch New Zealand . My first academic position was as a lecturer in Sociology at Hong Kong University . I took up this position from a Post Doctoral Fellowship at Oxford University where I worked on development issues with Paul Streeten and others. I have been an advisor to the New Zealand, Australian , British , Swedish and Dutch governments on conflict prevention , peace, defence and security issues and advised the German Government and the OECD on States and Violence. I was, a member of the New Zealand Government’s Defence Committee of Enquiry in 1985 and I currently conducting Problem Solving Workshops in North East Asia with high level participants from Japan, China and Korea. Iwas President of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) from 1994-1998, President of the IPRA Foundation from 1995-2000 and Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Peace Research Association. I was Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association 2008-2010. I got my B.A, B.A Hon ( First Class) and Ph.D in Sociology from Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand. and held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Oxford from 1970-1971. I have been a regular consultant to a variety of non governmental and intergovernmental organisations on disarmament, arms control, conflict resolution, development and regional security issues and I have written or edited 7 books and over 160 chapters /articles on conflict transformation, peacebuilding, preventive diplomacy and development with a specific focus on the Asia Pacific region. Research Expertise 1. Peace Research Theory- Conflict and Conflict Resolution Theory . Preventive Diplomacy , Development and Peacebuilding 2. International and Regional Regimes-APEC, ASEAN, the ARF, ECOWAS 3. Political Sociology-International Organisations. Multilateral/bilateral negotiating processes. 4. Fragile States, Legitimacy and Political Hybridity 5. Alternative Defence and Security Policies-Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific region. 6. The politics and ethics of international humanitarian intervention 7. Altruism and Compassion In my spare time I like to paint with acrylics or pastels, go to the theatre, listen to classical music, visit art galleries etc!
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One Response to Peaceful Language is a Pre-Requisite for Peaceful relationships and a Peaceful World.

  1. seanjlinton says:

    I’m reminded that Einstein called the intuitive mind a ‘sacred gift’ and the rational mind a ‘faithful servant’. Iain McGilchrist (author of ’The Master and his Emissary’) has commented that we have created a society that honours the servant but has forgotten the gift.


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