October 08, 2010

... and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
- Alfred Nobel's will

In some parts of the world, democracy and free speech are knee-jerk articles of faith. Awarding the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is certainly a strong statement supporting both.

It is sometimes worth recalling that not all of the world -- not even most of the world -- agrees. Not by total population. Not by number of nations.

(And if we are to honestly examine the deepest will in ourselves: how many of us, even among those living in the democratic west, could truly pass that test? How many of us honestly believe that every person's voice is of value, and every person's vote truly informed and equal?)

Fraternity between nations can mean a building of bridges and respect for how each sovereign nation chooses to conduct its own internal affairs.

Yet there is also another approach to peace: evangelising an unrelenting pressure upon other, non-agreeing nations until they fold to our way of thinking. This second kind of peace will accept nothing less than total conversion to one's own political and economic value hierarchy ... whatever it takes.

Thus peace can be achieved either by bridging differences, or by imposing similarities.

It is curious that most nations of the world realise where that second approach must inevitably take us and take a cautious step back from that type of brinksmanship; yet at the same time, the merchants of peace and fraternity among nations hesitate not at all in taking that step.

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