The Institute for Economics and Peace is a non-partisan, non-profit think-tank based in Sydney, Australia. In one of their 2019 reports on the state of peacefulness in the world, they rank states according to their peacefulness. Overall, although an equal number of countries showed deterioration and improvement in peacefulness, the deterioration was larger than improvement. Things are indeed getting worse! In two of the three domains of the Global Peacefulness Index (GPI) -ongoing conflict and safety and security – globally we are doing worse than in 2008. Terrorism, intensification of conflicts, mainly in the Middle East, regional tensions in Eastern Europe and political polarization in the USA and Europe, have been major contributors to the decrease in peacefulness in the world, concludes the report.
Most countries studied have seen increased terrorist activity over the past decade. While it’s logical to link measures of peacefulness to terrorist activity, one should also reflect on the underlying causes of this increased terrorism and conflict at this time of our history. What are the deeper drivers of this increased violence? GentleWays for OurPlanet does not have the capacity to conduct root cause analysis of this trend. The intent is to raise awareness of this worrying fact and to provoke thinking about possible solutions. Nonetheless, the report does mention the links between climate change and violence. Climate Change is seen as indirectly affecting the increase in violence and conflict through its effects on resources and migration.
The GPI report gives glimmers of hope about the state of global peacefulness in some areas: Many people in more countries than before reported improved openness to ethnic and religious minorities! This may be the outcome of increased focus through programs and legislation in many countries on diversity and minority rights. “However, daily feelings of sadness, worry, and stress have also increased over the same time period.”
The worry and anxiety that many of us feel is not “in our head” it is founded and based on real worrying facts. The question is what we are going to do about those facts…
Larger spaces for diversity have been created over the past few years in the world. For the next while, a most important competency will be making this increased diversity work smoothly. Creating linkages and meaning through facilitation, mediation, connecting and synthesizing are some of the skills that we need to develop further to use diversity creatively and sustainably.