Thursday, April 08, 2010

peaceëcesis (liken to life)

The Greek word ecesis is used by ecologists to describe the pioneering phase of recolonizing a traumatized zone with life. It could be post-volcanic eruption, post tsunami, post cliffside collapse or in the wake of glacier retreat, for example, when life has been scoured from some zone, large or small, and life begins to return.

Sometimes that needs to happen post conflict, when peace and human values have been scoured away with repeated violence and atrocity, with blood of the innocents, and with the terror and rampage of crimes against humanity.

Each piece of sterile mineral in nature must be slowly recrafted by a complex of forces during ecesis, forces such as the freezing and cracking, flaking and pulverizing of the mineral base so that some bits of nutrients are made available to pioneer species, usually microscopic, who can transform such bits into life when aided by sun and moisture. Perhaps some lichen can first affix themselves and begin to grow and, in another microscopic fashion, continue to granulate the monolith into usable flakes that feed the first life.

When that life passes on, it composts. When birds fly over, they deposit feces rich in nutrients. Then seeds on the wind or in the water may take tentative root and the first small shrub can grip the rock, roots probing cracks and feeding off the small collection of nutrients, made larger with every decomposing fallen needle that earned its way by extracting nutrients from the sun and even the fog in the atmosphere.

When a nation, a region, or even a city has been flattened and abused by war, and when the bloodshed included children and other innocents--as it always does--how may we help foster peaceëcesis (which I am coining and defining as a first set of steps back toward a peace system or an ecology of peace)?

Desmond Tutu asked that question following decades of brutality committed against his people in South Africa and he created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I believe his method is crucial, even though what he did was far from his ideal vision, as he had to bend to the will of many parties, many stakeholders, competing for advantage, vengeance, impunity and power immediately following the nonviolent end to apartheid. The core of what he started is how we begin to recover.

I think ultimately this will prove true in the Balkans, in the Great Lakes region of Africa, in the Middle East, in the Americas, in northern Ireland, in the Caucasus and in South, Central and East Asia. Research will show this, eventually, just as it has shown that our other elements of nonviolence are more adaptive than the adversarial, command and control methods of the military. We might call his peaceëcesis process a peace ecological production of liken through an erosion of hatred.

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