Peace Initiatives: A Preventive Approach

Steven Handwerker, Ph.D., D.Div., B.C.E.T.S., F.A.A.E.T.S.

Disharmony has "many faces"-- the range is from war or genocide to community and domestic

violence and includes conflict of any sort. Tie diversity amongst peoples is the nature of humankind.

Reactions to this diversity occur in the form of what we can call "differences," which is anything

perceptual or conceptual which can divide peoples. The movement to embrace a way to survive our

reactions to the diversity dates back to the beginnings of what has been called "civilization."

However, resolving these perceptions of "us and them" has become more and more complicated in

our ever increasing mechanized world. Our ability to survive harmoniously has become more and

more difficult.

The effort to create a world in a culture of peace in the midst of diversity and in the midst of

differences marks the beginning of what has been called "peace psychology." However, the issue is

not within the purview of psychology alone--because the overall and underlying concern is in regard

to humanity as a whole and to the survival of the human race. Peace, therefore, becomes not just the

absence of war, nor even the resolution of conflicts, but the presence of qualities, values, and

approaches in human relationships that build greater harmony. This harmony occurs through the

generation of acceptance and understanding of diversity and understanding ways to share the

resources, both those which are seen (e.g., minerals), and those which are not seen (e.g., values). It

also involves ways of creating more understanding toward the resolution of differences which would

interfere with our abilities to understand our natural diversity.

A preventive approach to disharmony or conflict is essential; that is, any and all differences which

intervene in relation to conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It is this dimension, often hidden from

view, that makes peace on any level possible. This spiritual dimension has been and is essential to all

religions and humanistic endeavors of all forms. It is always compassionate. In addition, it is slowly

being recognized as the only way to survive and thrive into the 21st century.

Caregivers of all kinds, be they medical, psychological, administrative or financial, all over the globe

are beginning to recognize that without a vision--a concern for humanity--the issue of material

survival is not possible. Without this concern, without this orientation, there is no strength to

overcome difficulties. There is no place to give both inside or externally in the world in order to get

beyond the difficulties at hand. Helping people in any way as an "attitude" and as an "action" is a

unifying force globally. Therefore we are all members of a supportive community regardless of our


We, invite all of our colleagues who are concerned and committed to helping others to come forth

and generate a new commitment to this purpose. For further information, please contact: Steve

Handwerker, Ph.D., D.Div., 7300 W. Camino Real, Suite 229, Boca Raton, FL 33433; e-mail:; phone: (561)447-6700.