A Chaos to Communities Global Initiative
Change, Conflict, and Hostile Conflict Prevention
Change is inevitable, and with change comes conflict. Conflict exists at all levels—intra-personal, inter-personal, intra-group, inter-group, and inter-national—thus conflict is an unavoidable factor of life. It is a natural phenomenon that is simultaneously a result of change, an indicator of the need for change, and a mechanism through which change can occur. Despite much misconception, conflict in and of itself is not negative. Indeed, it is how we manage conflict that determines the natural phenomenon of change and conflict. Managed nonviolently, conflict can propagate creativity and positive change/progress. While world history and the history of wars are ripe with examples of violence, indicating that violence prevention is not an easy task, historical narrative also alludes to the fact that hostile conflict is not inevitable. The Indian independence movement, the US Civil Rights movement, the recent events in Egypt that successfully avoided mass violent outbreaks are just a few examples of where nonviolence has been successful at heralding in positive change. These examples also suggest the ability of nonviolence to prevent hostile conflict.
Communities Without Boundaries International’s Chaos to Community global initiative has developed an exciting program titled Preventing Chaos. This program identifies vulnerable communities, and promotes attitudinal change and mutual respect among disparate identity groups, while increasing tolerance and accepting diversity. Preventing Chaos addresses conflict before it manifests itself in a violent form, promoting understanding of one another’s groups through meaningful and sustained interaction between disparate identity groups, and by creating a space within which rival groups can interact, communicate, and collaborate. Such meaningful and sustained contact can shift the attitudes and perceptions groups have toward one another, transforming hardened identity positions into more malleable, inclusive and non-threatening ones, thereby preventing violence.
Avoiding violent expression of conflict without suppressing the root causes completely is a challenging task. One that very few disciplines have been successful at achieving. However the history of nonviolent social movements, and nonviolence as a tool for positive change indicate that the philosophy and tactics of nonviolence are simultaneously an ideal philosophical/theoretical and practical framework for change. The Preventing Chaos Program is based on the understanding that violence does not erupt unexpectedly. It is a manifestation of individual and community grievances, often accumulated over a period of time. Such grievances can be addressed through nonviolent means, preventing the outbreak of hostile and violent conflict. Nonviolence can:
- Intervene prior to the emergence of violent conflict and identify non-violent means of resolving the tensions;
- Stop ongoing conflicts from spreading, and;
- Deter the re-emergence of violence.
Vision: To prevent violent conflict by promoting attitudinal change and mutual dignity among disparate identity groups, while increasing tolerance and accepting diversity.
Goals: Toprevent violence by promoting understanding of one another’s groups by:
- Fostering meaningful and sustained interaction between disparate identity groups;
- Creating a space within which disparate groups can interact, communicate, and collaborate;
- Developing sustainable community building and community development initiatives to be carried out by multi-ethnic and multi-religious teams.