The need for peace research and the elimination of violence-debt

There are occasions where the elimination of debt arises, foregoing the normative marriage of morality and capital, such as the fluid instances of bankruptcy or the celebrated Jubilee year as tokens of hallowed affection towards the masses. What should be most noted is that Jubilee is not just an action taken by a Creator towards Her or His subjects, but it is enforced through a togetherness. We are to forgive each other. The action of the erasure of debt is an action we commit to each other. Why should such goodness only arise every 70 years? What goodness is there to burden each other and ourselves with the punishment of need? 

It is taken as a subconscious cultural anecdote that “goodness” is pejorative. It is not required for our daily negotiations of distilled values. It is not woven into our self-projection onto the world, the Earth, or our shared customs. Only in storyform is it most revered; a token of appraisal for lesson learning and retributive auxiliary anecdotes. In Iris Murdoch’s beautiful work, The Sovereignty of Goodness, she considers the relationship between attachment and self with the proscription of goodness, stating,

Can good itself be in any sense ‘an object of attention’? And how does this problem relate to ‘love of the real’? Is there, as it were, a substitute for prayer, that most profound and effective of religious techniques? If the energy and violence of will, exerted on occasions of choice, seems less important  than the quality of attention which determines our real attachment, how do we alter and purify that attention and make it more realistic? Is the via negativa of the will, its occasional ability to stop a bad move, the only or most considerable conscious power we can exert? (1971, 67)

Can we – by will – eliminate one another’s debt? Or does such an action enforce a concession to a substitute for prayer. I have touched upon the topic of violence-restitution, not as a payment to remedy an act of violence, but as a self-feeding obligation we find ourselves ensnared in as a method of re-living and retrieving former acts of violence that we feel we must enforce. Whether Freudian or a more dream-like waiver from the post-Freudian Ernest Becker, there is the repetition of violence that repatriates itself to our senses with a fresh shower glow as though we are thankful; as though we feel unworthy for such a gift. 

What can substitute the magnanimity of prayer in such a way to be transcended as a persuasion of social order? Peace research can broaden this speculation among larger societies into a vacuum of prosperity. There are many of those more spiritually inclined that substitute the quest for peace as a meditation on the holy. It is a meditation. Peace is a tranquility of sound among a noisy harbor of self-defeating war faring ships coming to tide. Johan Galtung explicated non-violence thinking to summarize a major aspect of conflict resolution as transcendence. Stating in Peace by Peaceful Means, “[t]ypically this was an approach Gandhi used when working in a direct conflict between others, but also when working as the first party in a structural conflict. The conflict is transcended; what looks incompatible becomes compatible in a new structure. The horizontal caste systems, trusteeship, Britons staying on in India but not as colonizers, a (British) Commonwealth of equal and sovereign nations – these are examples” (1996, 116). Galtung finds no error or sustained trouble marrying prayer-forms with progressions towards social substitutions for problem solving and learning towards the end of oppressive structural forms. These techniques are not so much instances of forceful and aggressive will, but divergent thinking. 

Through divergent thinking of and about transcendence we can move to a simultaneously stationary and fluid place of debt forgiveness. This is by no means an artistic work or re-seasoning of will, but let’s consider the artistic trait. In the book, Violence: Humans in Dark Times, artist Jake Chapman posits in an interview,

The artist is supposed to be preoccupied by a sense of inner personal rigor, and yet the work is made with a presumption of the eventual viewer. The artists can’t fully experience the effect of their work on others, and in this sense cannot make finite claims over its meaning. Rather than providing general autobiographical reason for a work, it would seem more pertinent to consider the work devoid of the artist and as an object amongst a history of objects. (2018, 241)

Chapman’s relinquishing of imposing meaning on the viewer from the artist’s point of view is a form of transcendence, not just of ego, but also of possession. There is a healthy detachment in Chapman’s reasoning that “artists can’t fully experience the effect of their work on others.” This reasoning is not unlike an imposed marriage of respect between the creator and the viewer (or, the Creator and the subject). Allowing, permitting, reasoning a space between participants is just how forgiveness comes into harmony among those forgiving the violence of debt and those receiving that forgiveness. This is not a substitute for the stoic scepticism of goodness, but a practical applied transcended goodness that does not require the temperament of the artist to employ. 

What is the elimination of debt, but the elimination of violence? The elimination of imposing fractures? The de-possession of will? Social negotiation of will is not abstract, not limited to an artistic temperament. It is a hollow endeavor that is constantly surveying for its opportunity to dominate and oppress. The violence of will attaches itself to behaviors that evolve and share traits, mate, and spawn new factories of endorsement, but the negotiation of self and observer towards a forgiveness of debt bends mercurial will to an abatement of self-conscious appraisal and lends new roads for maps of horizontal forgiveness and that is a trait of transcendent conflict resolution. 

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