Juichiro Tanabe enunciates what he says are the four models of peace. The first model is grounded on what he considers a universal human agenda. He calls this the basic needs model. In this approach toward conflict resolution, there is that desire to achieve for people their primary physiological and psychological needs, including provisions for basic welfare — sufficient income, food and shelter. Indeed, the people who are oppressed may possess the bold resolve for self-determination, but in the end, what they actually want is for their families to have enough in order to live well. Amina Rasul thinks that the reason people want peace is this: “They want food on their tables, they want jobs, they want justice, they want shelter and health care, and they want a decent life.”
The second model of peace is the structural or social model. In this perspective, there is a need to look into the root of conflict in society. There are inequalities, both obvious and latent, that need to be addressed by the societal structures. Government institutions must be reformed and society should be redesigned in such a way that there is an equitable distribution of resources and opportunities for everyone. This will also require an enhancement of the political culture and a common vision for society amid all the diversity and differences. Deep structural injustice, for instance, embedded since Spain’s colonization, has resulted in the hegemonic divide in Philippine society. This type of antagonism is a consequence of the reality of democratic exclusion of the marginalized. Impoverished Filipinos, for example, have been deprived of the power to
truly become part of the decision-making process in the state.
The third model of peace is what Tanabe calls the epistemic model. In this dialectical view, society considers the people’s frame of mind. As conscious human beings, we have to look into our values, our points of reference, and our fundamental world views. It is often the case that the conflicts people find themselves in are mostly ideological in nature. The clash of cultures is actually a matter of misunderstanding and the lack of tolerance for that difference in identity. The prejudice against Muslims must end. The young Moro in the South is forced to think that he or she has no right to resent the comfortable life enjoyed by other affluent Filipinos. Yet, in making this judgment against the poor in the Bangsamoro, Philippine society gains nothing, and along the way, has lost the transformative strength of meaningful unity.
The fourth model is the spiritual model. In this holistic perspective, people go back into the roots of their humanity and consider what makes us all human. This necessitates, as a matter of principle, the respect for human dignity and an appreciation of the sacred value of human life. By putting oneself into the situation of the other, empathy enables one to have compassion for the other, and, in the words of Tanabe, to feel sorry for the injustice experienced by others. The desire to achieve the common good need not be cruel or violent. In this sense, we just need to believe in the innate goodness of the human being and have confidence in our own humanity.
The reality of conflict, however, forces us to look into the global dimension of violence. For the longest time, societies that are in conflict are actually colonies that have not found that sense of unity so required in order for any nation to attain progress. Mistrust and bias exacerbate the already difficult situation of people. And while their states are weak and their democracies are no more than a nomenclature at best, the dominant and powerful countries in the West that dictate trade policies also affect the lives of people. Leadership at the local level is also important, for if citizens do not believe in their government, then a vision toward peace and development would be impossible to achieve.
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Christopher Ryan Maboloc, PhD, is assistant professor of philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University.