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Connection: the foundation of peace

If you have three minutes, I recommend watching this video. I think about this clip all the time.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBJ7mBxi8LM]

Though Bobby McFerrin’s demonstration is cool, what really gets me is his offhanded remark at the end. He says, “Regardless of where I am, anywhere, every audience gets that.”

That’s a significant statement, McFerrin, the musician behind the somewhat charming and somewhat annoying song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, tours the world. That means he’s seen and worked with a wide range of different people.

Society does a good job of convincing us that we are unique individuals. I know that I fall victim to this mind set quite frequently (amusingly, the time I felt the most unique was in high school when I wore Abercrombie and listened to the Dropkick Murphys – just like every other guy at my school). But what McFerrin is hinting at, is that we aren’t so unique, in fact, all around the world, we are just like one another. A core of human elements binds us. As I have already blogged about this topic, I wont spend time discussing it here.

Instead, what interests me now is the application of this knowledge – I believe that it can be used as to build the foundations of peace on our planet (that is assuming that you believe peace is even possible…).

Think about it: if a soldier, whether he or she is in a rebel army, a terrorist group, or a national military, viewed their targets as human and connected to them, could they still kill? I think the answer is no. In fact, I know I’m not alone in this sentiment; soldiers of all kinds are brainwashed to perceive their enemy as fundamentally different than they are. The two clips below are from the documentary “Anyone’s Son Will Do” which is on how the Marine’s successfully turn their recruits into obedient killers. This documentary, which is currently available on youtube really is fascinating. It is worth noting that soldiers of all types undergo similar forms of training and brainwashing.

Jump to 1:58 to see footage of a Marine Drill Instructor indoctrinating their recruits (and the recruits loving it).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfLE8FLszzU&feature=PlayList&p=A0B9C01B109B3351&index=4]

Jump to 8:32 to hear a Marine Drill Instructor admit that they use “brainwashing a little bit” during the Marine’s training.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DShDaJXK5qo&feature=PlayList&p=A0B9C01B109B3351&index=0]

If we could achieve a paradigm shift, and help people understand that what we share with our neighbors (both next door and across the planet) is far greater than what don’t, then I think would be building the foundations of a peaceful planet.

I know it’s not popular to say this, but we don’t seem to care much about people in cultures different than ours; just as a brain washed soldier views his enemies as “different”, I think we view people in other cultures as “different”. If people in your town were being hacked to death by militia with machetes, I imagine that you would do everything in your power to stop it. You would alert the media, call the police, and tell anyone who would listen to run for their life. You may even fight the militia. But what would you do if you learned that people in the Congo were being hacked to death? Would you do anything? Well, this is exactly what’s happening in the Congo, and the only things that really separate the Congolese from the North Americans are different cultures and the man-made borders between countries. Beyond that we are the same. The question is, what are we doing to stop this? The unfortunate answer for most of us is: next to nothing

If we can somehow shed light on the elements that connect us, instead of the ones that separate us I believe we would be building the foundations of peace. I doubt that you would not want to see someone just like you enduring extreme suffering. And though a peaceful planet has been an unprecedented concept since the dawn of recorded history, we may just be at the right point in time to make it happen.

If we use social media, high-speed communication, and inexpensive transportation to highlight our global similarities, we would be beginning the long process of creating peace.

The task that we are faced with is learning how to use these tools (facebook, email, youtube, global tourism, world-wide media, etc) to illustrate how truly similar we all are. As we begin to do this, we will be striding down the path towards understanding our connection to one another, and eventually to peace.

PS If you have 8 minutes and want to watch another video that is constantly on my mind, and makes an even more powerful argument for just how connected we are, check this out. (You can ignore everything after the 7:38 mark – it’s just an advertisement.)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0pwKzTRG5E]

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