Why World Peace is Possible: Identification

Destroy This Mad Brute—Enlist (1917) by H.R. Hopps was an American Recruitment poster.

American Recruitment poster, 1917.

When men fight (and it’s always men), they align according to tribe, religion or nation. Our natural fear of the unknown has been exploited by those who benefit from war to portray the enemy as different, threatening and scary, and by so doing, create support for war.

The old media of books, film and television are one-way, and their message largely suits the interests of the owners. Alternative views have had little influence. Your letter or op-ed only appears with the approval of the editor. Samizdats and subversive books have been banned or marginalized.

But now there are new channels that are drastically changing the balance of power. Look at these introduction dates.

LinkedInMay 2003
MySpaceAug 2003
FacebookFeb 2004
DiggNov 2004
YouTubeFeb 2005
RedditJun 2005
TwitterMar 2006

Only in the last eight years have people around the world had a simple unmediated way to communicate with each other. Two effects stand out. Firstly, it allows communication and organization between people, for instance in the Arab Spring, see here and here. Twitter has a collection of stories made possible by tweets.

But there is a second effect that is a major driver towards world peace. The communications come directly from the source; they are not sanitized, filtered, edited, suppressed. We can see that others are just like ourselves; they have needs, feelings and families, too. We can feel empathy for their situation. The group of people with which we identify expands to encompass everyone – the whole human race. And once that identification takes place, the earlier identifications with tribe, religion and nation fall away.

This is happening. In music, look at the international collaboration involved in Stand By Me or the Virtual Choir. Organizations like One World and World Citizen Foundation have sprung up. The era of world peace may take some time to fully arrive, but arrive it will.

Posted in Internet, Peace

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