Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Metaphors for Peace

I am intrigued by all the metaphors for peace used by friends and colleagues in the peacebuilding field. John Paul Lederach in his book Moral Imagination uses spider webs to help give shape to how things come together for conflict transformation. In the Philippines, a network of organizations call themselves the Mindanao Peace Weavers to denote their efforts at weaving a tapestry of healthy, violence free society. Jay Rothman developed the ARIA framework which uses the harmony of voice and orchestra to describe an identity based conflict engagement. In our conflict analysis models we use icebergs, pyramids and egg shaped paradigms to describe the dynamics involved in war. People take what they know and apply solutions, frameworks and descriptors for addressing the conflict around them. It would make a fascinating study to collate the various metaphors that have informed our peacebuilding thinking.

I know electronics and it recently it dawned on me that my ability to read schematics would be a helpful metaphor in mapping conflict actors and interactions. While I never thought that the world of electricity could help shape my thinking about solutions to violence there is no reason why it should not. In writing the Mindanao Reflecting on Peace Practice document I used the phrase “theories of change schematics.”

A schematic, according to Wiktionary, is “a drawing or sketch showing how a system works.” In electronics a schematic is a pictorial representation of how some simple or sophisticated set of parts interacts to perform some function. Each part has a unique symbol denoting its role and value. The engineer designing a system knows the characteristics of each small part.

A schematic for peace would take into account how adding components with specific characteristics/values, will interact within the whole. I hope to develop this concept in the coming months. Maybe we will soon see electronics technicians adding their unique metaphorical understanding to the development of peace programs!

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