Posted by Francis Tusubira on Feb 05, 2019
I have been thinking (yes, again!): anyway one looks at what we do as Rotarians, it reduces to one single word – Peace, that intangible state of being that is defined in many different ways. The commonest definition is the absence of war, maybe because war is the most dehumanising activity human beings engage in – the rationalised destruction of lives using all manner of pretexts that I will not dwell on here. And yet war is a really a symptom of the more deep-seated maladies that afflict our society: it is not the disease. All the peace agreements in the world will never stop war until the deeper causes are addressed.
You see, we are all brought up with a lot of perceptions that are social constructs, and they start very innocently: our family is different from other families; our clan is different from other clans; our tribe is different from other tribes; our race is different from other races; our country is different from other countries; our religion is different from other religions; our political party is different from other political parties. Now, this all sounds very innocent, and yet it is the foundation that leads to the noisy wars.
From saying that we are different in many ways, we escalate the social constructs to a sense of superiority: our family is entitled and it is our right; our clan, tribe, race, nation is superior to the others; our religion is the true path and the rest are false; our political party is the only one that can lead the country because all the others are incompetent. The next stage is rationalisation of inhuman attitudes and actions: Those people are poor because they are stupid and lazy, they deserve to remain as they are; We can cleanse the earth and guarantee happiness for all by getting rid of inferior races; It is our religious duty to eliminate all those who do not belong to our religion; The other political parties will destroy our country and we must keep them out of power by any means, even if that is imprisonment or death – it is for the good of our country.
In our rationalisation we accept the poverty, the hunger, the disease, the maternal deaths, the general suffering of people around us as a given. We try to isolate ourselves from those inferior people with our walls (private property or national) and airconditioned cars. We cannot take our children to “their schools” or “their hospitals” because they are below our standard: we set up our own. Tensions build up. The stage is set. The war starts: petty thefts and robberies escalate to violent crime; political violence escalates to civil wars and regional conflicts; tribal, racial, and religious differences escalate to genocide.
The problem we face is not the social explosion: it is the fact that we make the social explosives. Peace and Conflict Resolution: yes, we must address the resolution of conflict because our countries and the world, whether we see it or not, are in a state of war at different levels. And yet we need to invest ourselves a lot more in dealing with the real maladies before the social explosives are ready to go off by creating Peace, looked at as the absence of need in the personal and social space of each individual.
Access to a decent education, real health services, opportunities for self-improvement; addressing food security; clean water and a sanitary environment: in short Peace of Mind for each individual because where Peace of Mind is a common state, violence and war cannot happen. We must also start deconstructing the dangerous social constructs, starting with those closest to us, family, friends, and communities. Just like we train ourselves and communities in “health seeking behaviour”, we must also train ourselves and our communities in “peace seeking behaviour”.

By Rtn. Francis Tusibira “Tusu”

Past District Governor 2006/2007