A Climate for Peace
Even as we prepare to deal with the threat of war and conflict, we need to focus on the equally critical issue of the impact this has on people’s hearts and minds. The signal failure of military action to produce a clear prospect for peace has left many feeling suffocated with illusions of powerlessness and dread.
The impasse could be broken through military force or other forms of “hard power”. At best, however, such action only responds to the symptoms of conflict. To the extent it plants further seeds of hatred in regions already torn by strife, it deepens and entrenches antagonisms.
Those who possess and wield tools of hard power need to practise restraint and cultivate the spirit of self-mastery. This is essential if the exercise of such power is to bring about a result other than to deepen the cycles of hatred and revenge. Simultaneously, I urge a united response by the international community — one that centrally includes the use of soft power.
No efforts will gain people’s wholehearted support or succeed in bringing about lasting stability and peace without a spirit of self-mastery based on an acute awareness of the humanity of others — something that I consider to be the very essence of civilisation. It is vital that all reflect on past failings and find a renewed commitment to constructive dialogue. All should join in the search for an approach that constitutes not just symptomatic treatment but fundamental cure. Those in authority need to embody the kind of soft power that can persuade, “co-opt rather than coerce”.