How ought we treat each other?

By Johan Galtung

Upon receiving the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Community Builder Prize

Atlanta, 31 Mar 2016

Dear President, dear Dean of Morehouse College, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am deeply honored by the prize from a college in Georgia, in the US South, that has been and is a beacon in the struggle from dominion to dignity in race relations. The civil rights movement is an American Revolution, like the feminist movement it inspired–aiming at parity and dignity for all. To refuse sharing the spoils of exploiting Reds and Blacks and poor Whites with London was far from a revolution.

This college shaped Dr Martin Luther King Jr. I had the honor of meeting him twice here in Atlanta in 1960–working on desegregation without violence in Charlottesville, VA–and in 1964 in Oslo when he received the Nobel Peace Prize. This College made him use Gandhi’s clinging to truth through nonviolent struggle, satyagraha, lifting 20 million Blacks into dignity. There is a backlash: Blacks are again shot at, and used as slave labor in prisons. The struggle continues.

Building communities. There are at least two of them, the community of people, and the community of states. I will deal with both and share with you in this speech the basic ideas of TRANSCEND mediation – an NGO of more than 500 invited members, comfortable with our mantra, “Peace by Peaceful Means”. Transcend means going beyond.

Let us approach answering the question through some words on how we ought not treat each other.

It is all in our thought habits, the deep culture of our thinking. In the West we think in simple dichotomies, like positive/negative, good/bad, even evil. Either one or the other, not in-between, neither-nor, both-and. And we very easily fall into the trap of seeing ourselves as only good, and someone else as only bad, steered by God or Satan. The road to narcissism, self-love and paranoia, seeing threats everywhere, is short. Victory! not solution.

AND Narcissism + Paranoia = Psychosis, the psychiatric diagnosis.

To escape from this thought habit use ancient Chinese habits. Yin/Yang. They also think positive/negative, good/bad; but add more levels, like the positive and negative in the positive and negative, the good and bad in the good and bad. That opens for identifying the negative in Self and the positive in Other; for positive-peaceful, not negative-violent relations. Not either-or; but both-and, neither-nor.

The TRANSCEND formula: focus on the positive, good in everybody including yourself; but keep the negative, bad in the back of the mind to improve it and as possible danger, to Self and-or Other.

Then create projects linking good with good; first as vision, then reality.Read More »