The Rules for Making Peace

A paper I wrote in 2005: Peacemaking Among Primates – JB Peterson

Imagine two groups of people. Group A has their territory, and the rules that govern it. Group B has their territory, and the rules that govern it. One day, the groups come into contact. Now they have a problem. Neither now knows how to simultaneously

  1. maintain their rules and structures
  2. interact with the other group

Neither wants their societies to collapse and dissolve. Neither of them want war. Neither can pretend that the other does not exist.

So what are they to do?

Make peace.

There is a place in between the two groups, where peace must be made. The place is no-man’s-land. There are rules for operating in no-man’s-land, but they are not the same rules that operating in either group’s defined territory.

The person who wishes to make peace must know how to operate in no-man’s-land.

That’s what this paper is about.

  • Thomas Reynolds

    Jordan, I’d be interested to hear or read your thoughts on Kanye West being institutionalized. The psych ward is protective imprisonment, and then, protection from what? We always knew Ye was, as 4chan puts it, Ultra Autistic, and this sudden decision that he needs to be in therapy despite not posing a danger to himself or others smacks of political detention. As I see it, it’s part of the secondary, totally unaccountable justice system governing acceptable thoughts and I strongly suspect that the psych ward generally is used for this purpose.

  • Richard Elliott II

    This essay puts one in the sphere of “core values” and what to do with these values i.e. how to live, what to revere, what, in anything, to hold sacred. One of my “core values” is forgiveness. This, to me, is not a feeling so much as a decision. Once understanding of forgiveness is reached the feelings can change for the forgiver and forgiven. Forgiveness is beyond the victor/victim dance. Forgiveness can encompass both the perpetrator and victim. This much I know: Even though forgiving someone will free you of resentment and revenge, it is not a free-pass to continue bad behavior. I hope to be able sometime to offer a comment of some kind to the “Peacemaking” essay. If I can it will be sourced in this core value, especially as it relates to “no-man’s land”.

    • Richard Elliott II

      Well . . . I’m beginning to think “Forgiveness” will have to stay in “no-man’s land”. Does anybody really want peace or coexistence? ISIS sure doesn’t. Is forgiveness a trait agreeable naïve fantasy? I wish I could reach that fella ( or fell-her) in no-man’s land. Merry Christmas.

  • role of philosophy/ers

  • Brenda

    Peace ultimately entails compromise on both sides…the question is how to define the parameters of the compromises to be made. It is a measure of the character of each side to determine how well (or even if it is possible) for these negotiations to take place and then be implemented. In my experience, the side with the higher level of maturity and character usually ends up conceding some ground, as an act of grace and sacrifice to the greater whole. Leaving us to consider, does the other side then achieve the victory or the status they sought, in the sense of it being a true victory, or will those around them always wonder if they have not perhaps been given more concessions given their lack of manners, emotional skill, or immaturity? The current times are full of turmoil and bitter opposition in so many areas, giving rise to much speculation if many of these conflicts can be resolved at all. In any settlement of dispute, look to the one who has acted with wisdom, courage and graciousness, and you will find the person whose integrity you might want to throw your weight and trust behind.

  • John Carter

    1. Find a common language and establish that you wish peace. These have to be done simulataneously.
    2. Then the two parties can negogiate how to divide or share no man’s land. They will need to find what the other’s customs are, what their reputations are for keeping their word, and their ability to do whatever they want in the new land and anyway. They even have to consider the possiblity the other group might want to takeover their own group and land. If that is a possibility, then one would have to impress upon the other group that it would be to their benefit to have them remain co-beneficial neighbors with differences.

  • Collin

    What would happen should the two groups find themselves occupying the same territory, the same identity almost as split personalities?

    They cannot establish borders and maintain them because both groups are diffused and co-mingle as one people, but think very differently from one another?

    There is no no man’s land.

    What if neither side wants to give, because both have a legitimate claim on the group identity and division of the group is tearing it apart at it’s fundamental level?

    What if one side becomes increasingly belligerent set in the view that the other is evil incarnate and thus there is no value to talking?

    Neither side wants war, but they want victory, because they see the other as a existential threat to the values the group was built upon and the group will not exist without those values.

    Without reconciliation and deescalation war will happen, civil war, a civil war of annihilation.

    The only historically symbolic figure I can think of to diffuse the situation is a bride, given from one group to another to bring them together and lessen the chance of conflict as a result, but how can that occur within a group where all blood is freely accepted and so will do no good to mend and bring the two closer at a primal, relational level?

    Reading the paper:

    How can a man make peace for others if he himself has not found peace within himself?

    Too much, and I have personal experience with it, we seek to help others before ourselves and it is to avoid making peace within us.

    Well, that’s echoed here:
    “The man with a disharmonious household cannot serve as a peacemaker”

    I’d add that it helps having experienced a disharmonious household, it allows one to understand and empathize with the plight others, and through it gain their trust while being a symbol that that harmony can be brought to it. A man that has always known harmony has no insight into what suffering is taking place. Such people can become effectively sociopaths of circumstance. “Snap out of it” is their go to answer for everything they themselves have not suffered from.

    • Richard Elliott II

      Hello Collin, I don’t know, but it seems to me that your questions are putting you on the right trail. I am beginning to wonder if anybody can access “no man’s land”. I mean, can a person’s household ever be harmonious or is it just Under Control? And for how long? People aren’t really tested until something really unexpected occurs. Like a comet!

  • Occam’s disposable razors

    I don’t know about primates but evolved western culture invented Robertson’s rules to ease the more base reflexes of a dialectic interaction. Considering that Parliamentary systems are essentially tribal confrontational institutions, Robertson’s has kept the blood shed to a minimum. 😉

    • JohnPedant

      Robertson’s or Robert’s?

  • If two people are arguing and each side is arguing false facts but they differ and the peace-maker tells them that the facts he holds are the actual facts and tells them this as there argument is essentially invalid. Would the two arguers not now get frustrated and now draw in the ‘peacemaker’