Building peace, whether online or offline, begins with ‘envisioning’ the nature of peace. Building peace begins in our minds, with how we think about the world, our value and purpose, our relationships with others and ourselves. When we envision peace, we are laying the essential foundation for building peace.
The following four observations are made in the unit on “envisioning” peace:
- Peace is hard to define: Peace is both a necessary condition for and one of the highest aspirations of an open and free Internet. Yet, digital peace is hardly ever mentioned or explored with respect to the online environment. We do, however, talk a lot about different types of online conflict: cyber-bullying, online hate speech, trolling, online harassment or shaming, to name just a few.
- Defining peace in a continuum: One way to organize our thinking on the meaning of peace is to place our definitions on a continuum: at one end is cold peace—characterized by a cessation of violence or separation of conflicting parties, while at the other end is hot peace—characterized by patterns of cooperation and integration. This continuum provides a way of analyzing different conflict resolution strategies and the kind of peace that they will create.
- Peace is an indivisible and holistic concept: In a sense, this is another continuum. Online peace cannot be dissociated from other forms of peace such as intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup or international peace. All these forms cannot be separated from each other in our thinking, choices, or actions. One story that illustrates the interconnection between the different forms of peace is the story about the creation of the World Wide Web, as told in the video “ForEveryone.net.”
- Understanding the dimensions of conflict: conflicts—whether large or small, online or offline—always involve a set of particulars, the contexts in which they arise, and the worldviews of those involved. One example of how these three dimensions play out in a conflict situation is a recent viral controversy surrounding Halloween costumes at Yale University.