Fellow of the Royal Institute, Academy of Moral and Political Sciences
Worldwide experience shows that arriving at or maintaining a culture of peace and non-violence is a major problem that affects a great many societies. A few non-violence and civil disobedience movements have been successful in this in spite of the odds stacked against their success. However, strife, violence and many conflicts or wars persist across or within countries. These adversely affect and even endanger, the lives of people at many levels, ranging from the individual and family to the community or country. Hence its causes need to be recognized and its emergence observed closely so as to address any shortcomings (preferably, by non-violent means) and thereby pre-empting, reducing or resolving conflict.
At the most basic level and the best place for observing, simply measuring and reviewing the absence of abuse and violence between individuals would naturally be within the family. This primary social institution and indispensable pillar of society provides socialization to its younger generations and thus passes on the most crucial social values. On this positive social mores must be encouraged in schools so that a sense of communal solidarity and social cohesion is nurtured within society. In its absence a state of non-violence and peace at the level of society at large cannot be reached or maintained.
Responding to conflict in the South or the political confrontation or indeed restoring Peace and Non-violence in Thai society, will be elusive unless the family, the workplace, and the communities, have all maintained or have a will to reclaim such a state of peace. To achieve this objective the present social divide with political division and social strife pervading society must be addressed. In this context, attention needs also to be paid to associated symptoms such as deficits in lack of civility, respect, cohesion and social solidarity amongst its diverse components. Unless these are addressed wisely yet decisively, and hence this challenge turned into an opportunity, Thai society at large will be hard pressed to (re)gain its stride.
Preconditions of and requirements for achieving and maintaining a violence-free society and thus lasting peace in Thailand are many. Solid foundations with the individual and the most crucial social groups must be laid first. This requires some adjustment and fine-tuning to socialization and curricula offered in school. Special efforts to enhance dialogue across social groups and communal bonding need to be undertaken, then, in tune with a communal spirit, social cohesion and solidarity will grow as will a culture of peace.
Key words: Non-violence, peace, violence, conflict, conflict resolution, Gandhi, King, civil disobedience, Thailand social problems, community action, national dialogue