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Monday, February 1, 2010

Mitigating communal conflicts

Mitigating communal ( Religious in Indian context) conflicts ; the discussion started with a simple post from a concerned Swamiji and we expect this to blossom into exploring the wisdom of religions to find solutions. You are welcome to contribute your ideas.

Please do not blame the religion, instead find solutions that religion offers without belittling the other and without score keeping. If you can do this, you have stepped on to becoming a peace maker which you want to be deep down in your heart. This thread is dedicated to finding solutions and not flaring up the conflicts, each one of us can share with others.

It is our duty to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the many sources of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our responsibility to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. We have an obligation to maintain a balance in the society. When we are at peace, we can generate peace and we can expect peace around us. Our words and actions should mitigate conflicts and nurture reconciliation and goodwill.


Mike Ghouse
Mitigating conflicts and nurturing good will.

dear soul,blessings
how cammunal war controle in our area &universe tell me easy method we are accepting all valuable opinion it is more help full for universal peace activity
yours truely - shree c k p swami




Thanks for taking this initiative, it is a need of the day in the state of Karnataka for that matter, India and every place in the world.

First Analyze the conflict - whether it is Budangiri, vandalizing public property in protest of Prophet Muhammad's cartoons, bashing the girls in bars in Managalore or or vandalizing at the Valentine day's party, throwing rocks at a diety or buring a Quraan, monopolizing God's name exclusively, torching the church, destroying the mosque, desecrating a temple or writing swastika on a Synagogue or any such event that disturbs peace in the community. We have to determine the source and motivation for such conflict.

Was the conflict real or imaginary?

REAL CONFLICTS : Real conflicts involves affecting any one or all of the three elements; 1) one's space 2) one's sustenance [food and water] and 3) nurturance (loved ones who give us reason to live).

IMAGINARY CONFLICTS: Let's make it ridiculous, let's say we work together in an office, you are a Muslim and go to the bathroom and I am a Hindu and I go to the bathroom, when we meet back in hallway, do we talk about the bathroom experience? Does it bring conflict? That was a private matter between you and the commode.

Like wise, when you pray in a corner and I pray in the other, how does it affect either one of us? If both of us are women and you wear a Hijab and I wear a blouse with big time cleavage, how does it matter to either one of us?

A dilogue is necessary.

You have got to get the parties to sit down face to face and have a heart to heart talk.... its amazing what you find out in a majority of the cases. It usually is based on imaginary fears and phobias.

Our role, the role of religous people is to bring peace to humanity, it is achieved through mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. We have to have the guts, to speak the truth and lead the people in the right direction - and not succumb to people who fund us or those few who scream at us.

Best wishes, I will be happy to talk with you about the process in a particular situation

Mike Ghouse


Great insights Mike!
Blessings - Doug
Rev. Doug Walker



I am following with interest the discussion regarding the conflict in Karnataka and appreciate Mike Ghouse's analysis of the situation. He points to three dimensions of potential conflict: space, material resources, and social nurturance. All other reasons for conflict, Mike suggests, is imaginary--as if the imaginary is not to be taken seriously. It is true, that often conflict is based on unreal (as opposed to imaginary) thoughts or feelings.

There is, however, another important dimension --the symbolic -- that plays an important part in inter-religious and other kinds of conflict. Symbols are valuable to communities, in that they structure the order of the community and give meaning to its members. Conflict is sometimes stirred when believers of different faiths challenge, ridicule, or commit sacrilege against symbols of faith. Symbols are "real" in that they form an integral part of a community's structure of reality. To attack a church, synagogue or mosque, to require or not require a woman to wear a birkha, to force one to work on the sabbath, to eat certain kinds of foods, to mock the eucharist, to disparage another's scriptures, etc. are examples of largely symbolic violence--real, not imaginary. (Of course, a burned-down synagogue is also a material and social loss.)

I do not think inter-religious conflict can be resolved unless there is respect for the symbols of another's faith. To say it positively, we need to have a model of conflict resolution that includes the power of symbols, and understand that much of inter-religious conflict is over the meaning and value of such symbols for the social health of a community. (To read more on religion as a symbol system, I refer to the work of Clifford Geertz in The Interpretation of Cultures.)

I hope this note is helpful to readers here.... please give us examples from your communities of faith and also post your stories of inter-religious conflict and resolution to the Parliament Media page.

Love, joy, peace

Graeme Sharrock
Parliament Media Group



Dear Graeme,

I appreciate your notes focusing on conflict resolution. This site is very productive and am glad to see every one genuinely adding and enhancing to bring peace within their communities.

Indeed, symbols are real and a comprehensive understanding must be developed from a co-existence point of view. Every example you have given must be addressed.

One cog in the wheel of solutions was differentiating between real and imaginary conflicts; as they say reduce it to the ridiculous to convey a message. All of us tune into WFIM Radio (what’ in for me).

Let’s look at this example to understand the difference in a real stories;

Four individuals working together in an office have become friendly over a period of time, and one day they decide to go for lunch. The food is ordered and they are chattering away the things that are common to them; football.

The food arrives on the table; every one is grim looking at each others plate. The Jain friend says shakes his head with frustration, “you guys don’t care about my sensitivity, you know I am a strict vegetarian, and despite that you have the dead animal on your plate, it is simply disgusting,” to this grim scene the Muslim/Jew fellow adds, “you know John, I don’t eat pork, how can you order this pig? “ And on and on… every one is concerned about his/her own feeling and sentiments and goes back to the office brooding over the insensitivity of the friends”.

This was an example of conflict resulting in tension.

On the other hand, look at the same scenario on the next table. The Muslim girl says to her Christian co-worker, “You have been talking about the pork chops for a while, I hope this gives you the pleasure you are looking for” and the Hindu chap looks at the Jewish girl and says, “I am glad you were able to order what you wanted to eat, I hope you enjoy that beef steak”. And the Christian turns to the Jain, and say, hey, hope this food is as good as your mom’s”.

What is the difference? It simply is an attitude! An attitude of respecting the otherness of other and accepting that his taste, clothes, worship is divine to him/her as mine is to me. An attitude that recognizes that what goes in your stomach is your business and should not bother me.

It is from this point of view I suggested that we tune into WFIM Radio and see if the conflict is real or imaginary. We have to incorporate recognizing and appreciating the symbolism of others as well.

I hope this adds to the idea of differentiating between real and imaginary conflicts.

Mike Ghouse
A goodwill nurturer and a conflict mitigator

continued on face book: http://www.facebook.com/MikeGhouse#/notes/mike-ghouse/india-communal-conflicts-and-solutions/308694532773


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