We in the West have become so used to dualistic (reductionist) thinking that it is sometimes difficult for us to perceive how to put more holistic viewpoints into practice. As Parker J. Palmer states in his book The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life, “We have not been well prepared to understand our lives in terms of paradox. Instead, we have been taught to see and think in dualisms …. “
A holistic spirituality would be one which perceives how the need for unity applies on every level of our lives and interactions. It is an attempt to look beyond notions of duality and see the underlying wholeness and interrelatedness of all things. (Anne Wilson: Holistic Spirituality
Sonia Mansour Robaey:
The politics of war and dialogue
Your Middle East, April 20, 2013
Dialogue in Syria is possible between Syrians and its absence is due to the hijacking of the Syrian opposition’s agenda by external state actors who have been conducting foreign policies through intimidation and humiliation to justify wars of intervention and who have no stakes in dialogue.
Humiliation, Submission, War
In every conflict a time comes when warring parties feel the need for dialogue. When the cost of war becomes high and/or victory uncertain, and when both parties have common stakes and interests as well as concerns about the hardships endured by the people and the destruction of the country. …
The absence of dialogue in the Syrian crisis has been the most difficult issue for Syrians to bear. The reasons for this are the opposition’s compliance with the approach, which the West has been systematically applying to justify interventions in conflicts, namely the refusal of genuine dialogue as an alternative to war.
Western military interventions since the Iraq war are mostly based on the principle of the responsibility to protect (R2P), but they are always preceded by a regime of sanctions with increasing severity, which amount to subjecting the country in question and its people to submission, humiliation, and/or war.
Polarizing (dualistic) approach
This polarizing approach excludes genuine dialogue because any compromise from the sanctioned party becomes an admission of weakness and bears with it the consequent humiliation.
In fact, any compromise outside dialogue is always an admission of weakness and submission. Dialogue takes place only when both sides accept and respect each other and are ready to move from their original positions. Excluding dialogue alienates the parties from each other and pushes them to violence, which brings with it a moral justification for war.
Create a hell to give yourself
the image of a ‘good savior’
Indeed, applying the R2P principle (‘I will be the savior’) after multiple rounds of sanctions, reaching each time different levels of government and society, and alienating the whole country, is what contemporary western ‘diplomacy’ is all about.
It is a diplomacy of humiliation and submission, an imperialist diplomacy. And, as the violence increases wars of intervention become easier to justify on moral grounds despite their horrendous human cost. This is known in ethics as the double effect doctrine.
‘My intentions are good,
so my God can be the Devil’
Double effect doctrine: The principle states that, as long as the intended effect of an action is good, in this case saving lives and preventing atrocities, then its unintended ones are justified (e.g. the death of hundred of thousands or millions from sanctions and war).
This kind of moral justification takes into account the intention behind the action and considers the action as a means toward a goal.
Philosopher, and anti-war activist, G.E.M. Anscombe is concerned by the ‘abuse’ of the doctrine to justify war. She sees some actions as absolutely forbidden and the justification of the doctrine valid only if the bad effects are “not used as a means to achieving one’s goals.”
the ‘big family’-philosophy
Syria is in a situation where dialogue is being denied to the Syrian people by outside actors. And while many argue that the Syrian government does not want dialogue, they are confusing dialogue between the Syrian people with the one between Syria and outside actors, including state actors.
Interestingly, in a recent interview with Syrian TV channel al-Ikhbariya in which he criticises the opposition’s statements about dialogue, Assad makes a distinction between hiwar (dialogue) and mufawada (negotiation). Hiwar, Assad says, takes place between the Syrian people and their government as one family, while mufawada takes place between state actors.
With this semantic distinction, Assad was, once again, inviting the opposition to join dialogue in the spirit of one family that is Syria without taking its diktats from outside state actors.
You have to admit that you are ‘bad’
you have, and will not have, any legal rights
so you have to eliminate yourself
By asking Assad to leave before any conversation takes place, external actors are seeking subjugation, not dialogue. …
In the current circumstances, political pressure without dialogue goes hand in hand with a military solution. Clearly, external state actors are preventing dialogue in Syria by stating their own conditions in what should be a hiwar between the members of one family…
Dinah Washington: It’s a mean old man’s world
Sonia Mansour Robaey (assistant professor at Saint Paul University) has a PHD in life and health sciences from Université Paris VII and a PHD in Philosophy with a focus on the Philosophy of mind from Université du Québec À Montréal .
She is currently assistant professor at the faculty of Philosophy and secretary to the faculty. She has been teaching at the Ethics baccalaureate and the Public Ethics programs at St Paul as a regular professor since 2009. Her research explores the relations between Ethics and politics in the management of health care. Her other interests include relations between science and society as well as forms of knowledge, minds and cultures. (St.Paul Info)