Books

The Art of InterGroup Peace

by George C. Halvorson

There are more than 200 intergroup conflicts going on in various sites around the world today. People in a wide range of sites face intergroup tension, discrimination, anger, and division.

Our basic instincts to divide the world into us and them, and then act in tribal ways both for and against other people shape our thoughts and our behaviors in a wide range of settings. Those instincts affect how we think and they affect what we do in every intergroup setting. Left to their own devices, those instincts can cause us to behave in very ugly and even evil ways against one another.

We do not need to allow those instincts to do as much damage as they far too often do. We can make the enlightened intellectual choice to recognize those instincts for what they are and we can choose to act, instead, in ways that reduce or eliminate our worst patterns of behavior.

At the core of the Intergroup Peace strategy, we need to be skilled and good at creating a legitimate sense of “us” in each setting — and we need to avoid having people in any setting where we aspire to create Peace being perceived by other people in that setting to be “Them.”

The Art of InterGroup Peace also involves identifying the fact that us/them intergroup instincts and behaviors are activated in any setting. The book helps explain the various ways we can defuse those instincts and keep them from doing damage when they exist and are activated.

The Art of InterGroup Peace has an array of eight approaches that can be used to steer and channel intergroup interactions — ranging from a truce or ceasefire at one end of the continuum to a full merger and complete intergroup assimilation at the other end of the continuum.

The alignment approach answers that will be most useful most of the time in most settings for creating and maintaining intergroup Peace fall between those two extremes. Treaties, alliances, confederations, and various levels of intentional integration can all be the right answer for achieving Peace in a particular setting.

The Art of InterGroup Peace explains that continuum. It also explains the triggers we can use to get people in a setting to choose alignment and to feel aligned. Those  extremely useful triggers range from a sense of real danger at one end of that continuum to having a shared mission, purpose, vision or highly motivating leader at the other end of the continuum.

Having common enemies, functioning as teams, sharing a group identity, and achieving collective gain or mutual benefit are all also very good instinct-linked tools for bringing people together. Loyalty to a common leader can also create levels of both group and intergroup alignment.

As we make decisions today about how to make Peace happen and how to make Peace work in any given setting, it can be very useful to know what the alignment triggers are and what the alignment options might be that are best suited to that setting.

Our cultures tend to serve as tools of our instincts to help our instincts achieve their goals. Our turf instincts, for example, tend to manifest themselves in cultural rules and guidelines about territory and turf.

To create Peace, we need to understand how to use our cultures as tools for Peace. We need to make enlightened and ethical choices to achieve Peace, and then we need to steer our instincts and shape our cultures in ways that will make Peace in each setting a reality.

The Art of InterGroup Peace teaches all of those approaches. Use it to do the right things in the right ways for the right reasons.