Saturday, December 16, 2006

Partition Colombia

Colombia is living through the oldest violent conflict in the Americas. Over four decades of fighting and ideological struggle; a confrontation between legitimacy and force, spiced up by drug trafficking money. Will it ever stop? To answer this, one must ask several questions to understand the dimensions of the conflict.

Who is profitting from the conflict? It could be that foreign countries are finding in the Colombian government a good customer for weaponry and warfare. So, as long as there's conflict, there's arms trade, which fills up the pockets of warfare industries. This is true for every single violent conflict around the world.

What are the different parties involved? This is not a traditional bipartisan conflict. There are several groups that have legitimate claims in the conflict: the Guerrilla, the Paramilitaries, the Government, the Civil Society, the Government, the Colombians in exile, the drug dealers, etc. Conflict analysis requires a thorough research about all the possible parties of a conflict to include them all in the transformation process.

What are the interests at stake? What does the Government want? Perhaps it is more short-term to opt for political power instead of peace, which doesn't seem so real at present. What does the Guerilla want? Land? Resources? Political power? Peace? War? Money? And so on with all other parties involved.

Where do the parties come from, historically speaking? Meaning, what are the sociological and political origins of the groups involved?

Where do the parties see themselves in the future, say, 40 years down the road, one generation after this one? Do they see themselves still coexisting violently with each other, or do they see themselves in peaceful coexistence with their present adversaries? Perhaps they see themselves with more political autonomy or right to self-determination over a determined territory of what today we know as Colombia?

What is the economic cost for all parties involved to remain in the conflict? How many people die every year? How many resources are spent every year in sustaining the confrontation? How many wealth is not being generated because of lack of opportunity or synergy among the inhabitants of the country? Identifying this cost could make Colombians aware of the enormous expenses that are directed towards the conflict from all sides.

The disection of a conflict most of the times allows to deconstruct its elements, revealing where the true contention lies. In doing so, we might discover, in a case like Colombia, that the answer won't be found in the present paradigm of Colombia as the territorial unit we know, but in a different reality of a Colombian territory separated into two or more different sovereign states, the same way as Pakistan partitioned from India, or Slovakia and Czech Republic separated.

Sunday, November 26, 2006



La experiencia humana y la investigación científica ofrecen conceptos y metodologías para analizar, diagnosticar y resolver conflictos. A esta novedosa rama interdisciplinaria de las ciencias sociales se le denomina “transformación de conflictos”.
Esta disciplina versa sobre la paz como valor social constructivo. Sostiene con convicción que la paz es mejor para todos. La investigación se dedica entonces a descubrir o diseñar nuevas metodologías que puedan asistir en procesos de transformación de conflictos.
Hay cinco conceptos fundamentales para la búsqueda de la paz. Primero, la no violencia. Violencia es la alteración de la armonía física, mental, emocional y espiritual de seres humanos y demás seres vivos. La armonía debe prevalecer para vivir en paz.
Segundo, la empatía. Nos referimos a esto con la expresión “ponerse en los zapatos del otro.” Se trata de imaginarse por unos instantes cómo nos sentiríamos y cómo nos comportaríamos si fuéramos otra persona, especialmente nuestra contraparte en un conflicto.
Tercero, la creatividad. Cuando nos encontramos en una situación de conflicto, tendemos a buscar un máximo de dos soluciones. En algunas ocasiones ni siquiera podemos imaginar una segunda opción de solución. La creatividad lo que busca es la generación abierta de estas opciones. En ese ejercicio podrían surgir opciones que satisfagan más plenamente las necesidades de las partes. Incluso podrían combinarse algunas opciones dadas para crear otras nuevas.
Cuarto, comunicación efectiva. Se habla mucho de diálogo, y lo que significa este término es “a través de la palabra.” Es una iniciativa de paz, porque propone hablar en vez de guerrear. Es un buen comienzo. A esta regla hay que agregarle la escucha activa, que es el aprestamiento para facilitar el proceso de conversación entre las partes. Esto quiere decir que cada parte del conflicto tiene la responsabilidad de hacer silencio y el poder absoluto para tomar la iniciativa de escuchar y formular preguntas que ayuden al otro a expresarse con más claridad.
También requiere la destreza de la asertividad, que significa transmitir un mensaje lo más claramente posible haciendo el menor esfuerzo. Se trata de ser breves resolviendo conflictos, para disponer en el futuro de más tiempo para disfrutar el presente.
Quinto, humildad. No andarse por las ramas, sino poner los pies en la tierra (humildad: humus: tierra) y reconocer lo que no hemos hecho bien, pedir perdón, y pedir otra oportunidad para intentarlo de nuevo. También, recordar que todos tenemos en todo momento el poder para tomar la iniciativa de ofrecer una mano, de bajar la cabeza, de hacer mea culpa, de disculparse y de ser transparente. Sólo así se genera confianza cuando se ha perdido.
En una situación de conflicto el paso del tiempo implica que cada día que pasa ambas partes pierden un poco más, no sólo de lo que ya tienen, sino también considerando la abundancia que podrían generar y que están dejando de ganar, si estuvieran en una relación sinérgica.
Afortunadamente, siempre hay tiempo, porque en cualquier momento, cualquiera de las partes puede proponer una iniciativa de paz que ayude a que se rompa la nociva espiral de la violencia y se inicie el desarrollo sostenible de la paz. Lo antes, mejor.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Axis of Wisdom

Pakistan, India and Iraq. These three countries share a lesson or two to be learned. Pakistan and India resolved, a few decades ago, to form two sovereign States. They have been fighting ever since. Iraq was governed by a few decades by one single man's power: Saddam Hussein [KEEP HIM ALIVE IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY!!!]. Since he was ousted (illegitimately) from power, the carnage in Iraq, with the U.S. as "best supporting actor", is breaking up into several pieces. We could count six or seven clear factions (local and foreign) that wouldn't mind a "piece of the pie". And that is OK.

It is about time that India and Pakistan greet each other as siblings -civilized ones- and identify ways in which they can help each other achieve their dreams. It's not so difficult. Try forgiveness, apology, and reconciliation. Try a fair trade agreement (FTA).

Iraq should learn to separate. It shouldn't be as uncivilized as it is today (come on: 3709 violent deaths in October??? Give me a break.), especially not for a people that have been so prolific as civilization since our origin as hominids. Mesopotamia developed mathematics. We owe them much. Let's help them realize their dreams. They are not striving for oil. Perhaps they are the only ones who aren't. They wouldn't mind sharing it if that would buy each other out from the fighting. Mutual purchase by all inhabitants of the country. The division would be a matter of talking. That has never been a problem for humanity.

As of the rest of us, especially those that are ignorant about Islam, we must be culturally sensitive to Islam and to all other religions, nationalities, citizenships, or any other distinct characteristic of a person or group of people. We must start using the idea that "similarities unite; differences enrich" as a tool for peaceful transformation. It can be achieved.

It would be another gigantic lesson of Iraqis, and a very good example of Islam if this is achieved here in Iraq, the sooner the better.

We are all expecting, we are all waiting, and we are all hurting.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Civilization Going in Reverse

That Saddam Hussein, former dictator of Iraq for 34 years, has been sentenced to death by hanging, is a very worrysome symthom that civilization has set the reverse gear and gone back in time, to the time when Human Rights were not a global institution like they are today in most countries.

That the U.S. allows such a circus to take place is an even more worrysome fact, since they are, once again, ignoring the consequences of their behavior in a foreign land that they have invaded illegitimately, against all International Laws.

That Saddam Hussein is being held responsible for crimes against humanity, and that he has to pay with his life, despite a trial so tainted with violations to his defendant's rights, only makes me wonder: who is to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis that have lost their lives after the U.S. invasion? Could we imagine George W. Bush being held responsible (and hanged) for the deaths he has caused? Let us not see that ever.

So, let us not see, ever, Saddam Hussein being hanged. Shame on us if we are all exposed to that ridiculizing and gruesome death.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Kalamazoo Revolution


All human beings share the fundamental intimate needs for attention and affection;

All human beings are political beings, engaging others by persuading them through their ideas;

The values that compose peace, like effective communication, creativity, empathy, nonviolence, love, and cooperation, are already present in all societies of the world;

Peaceful engagement is immune to violence;

Conflict Transformation is a dynamic process that requires sufficient time to be completed;

The creation of a positive social epidemic demands ordinary efforts of ordinary people in a common direction;

A revolution is a faster-pace evolution;

Transparency generates trust, and trust fosters virtue;

That in presence of good, there is no further need to dichotomize good and evil;

A critical mass of inhabitants of the United States of America have reached a Tipping Point of spillover in their level of tolerance for the way their political elite has been governing their country and relating with other countries of the world, and that this energy needs to be channeled in a constructive manner;

A critical mass of inhabitants of the United States of America are willing to make the sacrifice epitomized in the endeavor to generate positive change and to contribute with their individual and collective efforts;

The peoples of the United States of America deserve to be engaged in peace by all other peoples of the world;

The global leadership that the United States of America has had during the last half century, entitles this great nation to appreciation on behalf of all of those people, individuals and groups, that have been aided or benefited by American cooperation, including, especially, the millions of culturally diverse immigrants that have found a safe home in American territory;

That whatever wounds the United States of America, through its foreign policy, might have inflicted on individuals and groups around the world, may only be forgiven through the sole initiative of its victims;

That the reconciliation process between the world and the United States of America, and between the American Civil Society and the American Government, will begin the moment the American Government recognizes its wrongdoings, acknowledges the basic needs that have been violated, and expresses its apology for the harms done;

That the degree of success of peaceful revolutions in comparison with violent ones confirms the mandate that this Revolution be a peaceful one, through creative solutions, an attitude of empathy, and most important of all, nonviolent interaction and behavior;

Now therefore,

The Kalamazoo Revolution is hereby launched as a Declaration of Peace from the people, by the people, and for the people of the United States of America;

It shall be based on the principle of unidentifiable leadership, to avoid mistakes in the past committed by revolutionary leaders like Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and other prominent revolutionaries whose endeavors were interrupted violently by those in fear of addressing the truth;

The values promoted by this Revolution are those related to peace and democracy, keeping in mind that the Institutions of the United States of America have been pillars of social justice for all;

The principle of networking, deeply embedded in American cosmology, is the principle to gain adepts to the movement, all of which are already agents of change in their communities, contributors to a better world and promoters of ever-greater peaceful coexistence;

The first change that shall be promoted by all endorsers of this Revolution is an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America to move Election Day to the Sunday immediately after the constitutionally appointed date, allowing a greater majority of citizens to freely exercise their right to vote.

Kalamazoo, Michigan
October 31, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Letter to the Professionals of the World

This letter is addressed to all experts in their own fields, aiming at uniting together to make a better world. I do not address every single field of expertise directly. It would be nonsense to even try it. I share some professions or experts as an illustration. I encourage each one of you to analyze what your contribution to a better world is or could be, and to motivate yourself to do a little effort every day in the direction of the kind of coexistence you wish to have for yourself or for those coming after us.

To all lawyers of the world, who understand that laws are rules that promote peaceful coexistence, therefore civilization; who, also, undersand the importance of having just laws, and ethical behavior in absence of laws;

To all psychologists of the world, very good at difusing powerful concepts like self-esteem, the origin of fear and ways to overcome it, and to help get in touch with reality;

To all architects of the world, to take the opportunity and the prvilege to design a sustainable habitat, good enough for future generations to enjoy the same ecosystem we have today;

To all economists of the world, to separate the concepts that are used to make economic predictions from those that are used to measure economic results, the pre- and the post- of the market phenomenon, where it is much easier, much more accurate and much more responsible the latter than the former;

To all medical doctors of the world, to comply with the ethical principle to help without discrimination, to promote health as a recoverable and sustainable good at reach for every single human being, and to make more efforts in prevention rather than on intervention;

To all engineers of the world, par excellence, visionary transformers of conflicts, able to visualize and create what is missing to satisfy a human need;

To all journalists of the world, to contribute with their ethical feedback to all governments with the intention to help them improve their performance;

To all educators of the world, to understand two ideas: first, that to govern is to educate, therefore educators are the ideal platform to promote better governments and better leaders and better citizens on the long-term future; and second, that most likely they will make it on the list of "highly influential people" in the lives of each one of their students or disciples or followers;

To all artists of the world, to project the positive and to propose changes to what can be improved in our cultures, but to do it freely, as art should be;

To all parents, to understand that education starts at home, which means that good governance also starts at home;

To all mothers of the world, and to all women in general, to comprehend that societies are founded and developed through the active role of women, a primary role in importance but secondary in recognition and praises, which has overcome all religions, all geographies, all climates, all ideologiees, all markets and all monies, and that women are the pillars of the future of civilization as in the past it was for the present we enjoy today; to comprehend and commit to their already assigned roles as lawyers, economists, psycologists, medical doctors and nurses, educators, leaders, architects, conflict transformation facilitators, parents, and to form good future citizens, to inculcate on today's children the values we want to have tomorrow.

So be it.

One Love

Ever heard Bob Marley's "One Love"?

It says: "One love, one heart, let's get together and feel alright."

Maybe that's what we need: more oneness, more togetherness, more good feelings, more resonance among us all.

Interreligious Dialogue

1. Religions, cultures, ethnic groups
2. The good news about September 11
3. Long-term view about the Other in me
4. Creating resonance at a political level
5. "Similarities unite; differences enrich"
6. Violence is anything that alters harmony
7. We are all extremists and always 100% wrong

I have just finished moderating a panel in interfaith dialogue, and I wanted to write some thoughts that I collected from it.

1. Interfaith DOES NOT refer only to dialogue between the three Abrahamic religions (namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in order of appearance...) I wonder about dialogue between other religions of the world, big or small, like Hinduism, Sikhism, Baha'iism, Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism, and all other indigenous social methods to access the Divine through faith.

Also, the communication between people from different religions can be extracted from and adapted to the communication between different groups of people around the world that are excluive, meaning that they exclude others from their congregations. Think about different citizenships, nationalities, ethnic groups, political parties, sports fans. All those groups are based on the belief that the acceptance to the group also implies belonging. There is no other way to be a member.

2. September 11 brought us out of the cocoon we used to live in, said Mushtaq Luqmani, a Pakistani-American at the panel. It made me think that if September 11 had had at least one good, positive, constructive contribution to the world we live in, is that it brought us closer together. Perhaps conflict is not the way we want to come closer to others. Nevertheless, the opportunity posed to human civilization with this event is remarkable: it has forced us all to think why someone would have such ideas and such energy to execute them. The simple question is a challenge regardless of the answer. Conflicts are a bond between the parties at conflict.

3. In 25 years from now, how will the world look like? Will I become closer to the Other, or will the Other become closer to me? If my world is one, and I am here with all Others, it means that in 25 years I will have to share the same world with Them, as much as I do now. The difference is that today I am aware of so much, and most likely in 25 years I will be aware of so much more about the Other that it will be extremely difficult to draw the line where I start and Others end. Engagement of the Other is an attitude more than a methodology, and it is more a lifetime endeavor rather than the theme for a three-day conference.

4. Why do politicians fail to understand the way to peace? Why so much ignorance in those who are leading the way for all of us passengers of this 6-billion-person boat? Could it be that diplomats and politicians already had their time? I am not asking for an opportunity to lead. Never. It's already difficult enough to govern my own life sustainably to take onto the responsibility to govern other people's lives as well. I propose we let women govern civilization for some 25 years. I'm curious to see what would happen then.

5. There are many things that you and I have in common, and many others that are different from each other. Those things we have in common bring us together, like the language we speak, the basic human needs that we seek to satisfy on a daily basis (not only physiological ones, but also emotional ones, like the need for affection, the need for attention, and the need to feel productive), the hope for a better tomorrow. The things we have different, the work we do, the place we live in, the dreams we have about the future, are differences we share, and these differences enrich us mutually. So, similarities unite us, and differences enrich us. I propose we start teaching this at kindergarden level. I propose politicians and leaders all around the world understand this and implement it. It's a very small twist in our attitude, and it produces a quite profound transformation towards a more peaceful coexistence.

6. The most profound and holistic definition of violence I have heard is "anything that alters harmony." In that sense, there are so many expressions of violence around us that it is almost overwhelming to think about it. Good news: this also means we are empowered 100% to take absolute initiative to make this change from the inside. What is our harmony? What is our greatest state of wellbeing? Anything that alters that high quality of your life can be taken away. In fact, only you can do it. Peace is more at hand than you thought it was. For example: when the U.S. decided to invade Iraq, I decided I didn't want to be corrupted at a spiritual level with all the mass media information that is produced in a war scenario. I decided not to watch TV or read the news or engage in conversations about the topic, unless strictly necessary (at the time I was still studying Peace and Conflict Transformation). So, for the last three years I haven't gotten emotionally involved in the conflict, which means, among other benefits, that I haven't developed an irrational hatred towards the U.S. (even though I completely disagree with their blatant violation of International Law). Unless we manage to eradicate this irrational hatred against the U.S., we won't manage to help the boat float stable. It is constantly tilting radically one way or the other, and we don't know how long it will last before it breaks or capsizes.

7. Maureen O'Hara, on her keynote speech at the Conference last night introduced a fact that left me dumbfounded: she says that at any given time, every single human being has access to only one trillionth of the whole information that is available in the world. One trillionth! This means that if we convert this number to a percentage and we round it to the nearest millionth of a percent, each one of us is 100% wrong all the time! Or you think you are the lucky one that bumped into the "right" trillionth of information to "win" an argument? Gotcha!!!

Additionally, this fact allows me to say that we are ALL extremists: if we base our thoughts and our beliefs on one trillionth of the available information, it means that we are basing our perceptions and ideas and beliefs on the hint of the tip of the iceberg, if at all. We could be wrong. All the time. So we should try to avoid judgment about others. This will bring us one step closer to global harmony (and I don't think we are too far away).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Johan Galtung's "Decline of the U.S. Empire"

I promised some comments about Johan Galtung's "14 reasons for the Decline of the U.S. Empire", after a lecture he gave at the Social Science Faculty Auditorium of Universitetet i Tromsø [University of Tromsoe] in Northern Norway, in September, 2004.

I had planned to exhumate my class notes to bring back to life such a masterful explanation of his prognosis about why the United States will collapse as a geopolitical empire.

Instead, I found this essay, which refers to much, much more than what I knew about it, I humbly acknowledge: I have learned a lot after reading the essay. Plus, it leaves my unpredictable ideological profile quite unpredictable still.

"Decline of U.S. Empire"

Monday, October 16, 2006

Engaging The Other: The Power of Compassion

International Conference on "Engaging The Other". ETO. Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. October 26-29, 2006.


Global Networking Strategy

Friends: I am launching a global networking strategy to "sell" the idea of the Consensus of Costa Rica. An idea to believe in. Stay tuned...

"My greatest professional blessing to date was to start seeing the world as a conflict."
AACM (This is me, by the way: Álvaro Antonio Cedeño-Molinari, a.k.a. Alvaro in any of its 750 versions of it I have heard around the world;)

I have to thank my father for that professional blessing. He's the Master of Problem-Solving. I've been his student as long as I can remember, and probably way before too.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

"Nukelear" War

Is the U.N. in the process of declaring war to North Korea?

Does "means to an end" mean anything when it comes to eliminating a nuclear power ASAP?

If Nortk Korea needs to be "cleared" of nukes, isn't this the best time to do it, if "nuclear war" is out of the question for the U.S.?

What if "nuclear war" is part of the scenarios the U.S. is considering?

Should the rest of the world have a say? is the U.N. still politically strong enough to stand fast and not allow North Korea to develop any further as a nuclear power?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nuclear Korea

Which one was the last country to confirm nuclear destruction potential before North Korea did last Sunday, October 8th?

What happened to the Non-Proliferation Treaty about preventing more countries to obtain nuclear destuction potential?

Where is the International Atomic Energy Agency? What was the Nobel Peace Prize for the IAEA all about then?

What will happen when Iran makes a similar claim?

When will disarmament really begin for the world?

Is it time to think, as a global community, about rules that will help us achieve sustainable progress, therefore peace?

Have you understood the Consensus of Costa Rica?

The Noble Price of Peace

Muhammad Yunus has been awarded this Friday, October 13th with the Nobel Peace Price in hands of Dr. Ole D. Mjøs, Chairman for the Nobel Peace Price Commission in Oslo, Norway.

Mr. Yunus has proven that there is a price that a capitalist system is willing and able to pay in order to achieve a far better degree of quality of life for millions of inhabitants, in his particular case from his home, Bangladesh.

An Economist receiving the highest international peace prize is a quite distinct phenomenon, because it means that Economic thinking on how society works has brought progress, therefore peace.

Johan Galtung's definition of peace is: "The capacity to transform conflicts creatively, empathically, and nonviolently." In other words, the sustainable social skill of progress. This means that the possibility to launch a virtuous spiral towards peace can come either from Top to Bottom, from decision-makers, leaders, governments and going down, or from below, from the grassroot level, from the individual's inside, from his or her motivation to progress.

Mr. Yunus came up with an idea, one so good that transformed the lives of millions. But not one single life would have been transformed if neither one of those people would not have wanted to. It's a tandem between incentives and motivation, where incentives are external forces that move us in the direction of progress, and where motivation is the strength that each one of us generates from the inside out. It is the drive that keeps us going, waking up every day, and taking the necessary steps to be able to answer "better, better, better" when we ask ourselves "how am I doing?"

The world has a fabulous learning opportunity to reflect upon the learnings of this Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Yunus has proven that having four or five clearly articulated concepts about how the Market Economy works, and how Capitalism can be Socialist enough to help those that are most in need.

It is the noble price of peace.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"The Axis of Evil"

The "Axis of Evil" is a term that was coined by President George W. Bush in his State of the Nation address in January, 2002. Before that, Iraq, Iran and North Korea were three more States of the world.

Today, Iraq is a violent mess that will take some 20 years to recover (best-case scenario), Iran is determined to obtain nuclear weaponry, and North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon this week.

How to solve this potentially devastating global scenario?

I once heard, by a US antropologist (I wish I remembered his name) that the US always needed to create an enemy to justify its military beligerance.

It is an educational problem: if you have been raised and educated to believe that military might is the way to make friends and be loved around the world, there is something terribly wrong there.

If you have never heard about Johan Galtung's 14 reasons to justify the fall of the US Empire, I promise to post them here soon.

Consensus of Costa Rica

Have you heard about the Consensus of Costa Rica? It is a peace-oriented idea proposed by Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica (1986-1990; 2006-2010), aiming at the promotion of international cooperation and foreign aid to those developing countries that reduce their military spending, hoping to emulate Costa Rica in its non-military structure and its broad and high-quality public education system.

Take 7 minutes to read this link, where Arias proposes the idea to the United Nations General Assembly gathered in New York, September 19, 2006. Consensus of Costa Rica

Sunday, October 08, 2006


This blog intends to promote innovative, holistic ideas towards the transformation or resolution of conflicts. Please feel free to post those conflicts that seem to have no solution to work them out together.