Transform for Peace

This week, I engaged with CNN’s State of the Union, which aired on October 13th. The topics addressed regarding President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. Special Forces from Syria, as well as the Biden family's potential conflict of interest, which took place in the past. I also listened to the On the Media Podcast titled “Sticks and Stones.” Brooke Gladstone spoke with Andrew Marantz about free speech absolutism and what life will be like after the Trump administration. These two episodes drove home how leadership and inner transformation work together to create a peaceful society.

One point, which stood out to me in State of the Union was the debate about the president’s decision to withdraw troops from Northern Syria. The United States upholds its reputation as a leader. However, both Pete Buttigieg and Kevin Cramer make comments indicating the United States is not fulfilling this role. Buttigieg claims how there is a “total lack of leadership from the White House,” which is “undermining the idea that America has a leadership role [or] an exceptional position to shape outcomes around the world” (“State of the Union”). Cramer furthers this idea when he wants to look upon our European allies and asks when “they are going to step up” (“State of the Union”). I understand their view of wanting others to take the lead, but to fulfill our global position as a leader, we should do more to inspire others to want to contribute to achieving a better outcome. This reminds me of the economics Hawk Dove game theory in which both allies want to avoid a war, but each country is waiting for the other to make the first move.

The On the Media podcast reinforced this idea about leadership and change. Andrew Marantz mentioned the myth of a “divine hand of providence” that would guide us to some utopian destiny (“Sticks and Stones”). Society wants to assume the destined path it is on will eventually end in progress and success. It is easier to allow external factors to sway people and make problems seem too big to overcome in their lifetime. However, creating this ideal future is something we are capable of manifesting in the present because “we actually have to look at trends and do the work of getting to where we want to go instead of waiting for it to happen automatically” (“Sticks and Stones”). As I mentioned before, instead of waiting for Europe to take action, as a leader, what actions can we take to progress? Marantz points out how “we take for granted that [regulations] can’t possibly change” up until the point where it does (“Sticks and Stones”). There is a fear of radical change, but with incremental changes in the mind of individuals, eventually, they will become something society normalizes.

Everything is interconnected. For example, there are “psychological harms form the brain’s perspective, [which] are almost indistinguishable from what we think of as physical harms” (“Sticks and Stones”). Just as systems within the body work together, an individual body is not separate from the environment they live in. When one makes an inner change, one’s environment will change to support them. In other words, to create a harmonious society, “shifting norms rather than shifting laws,” (“Sticks and Stones”) is an effective way to “put an end to endless wars” (“State of the Union”). This shift in norms, on a fundamental level, is a change of the heart to respect the dignity of each life. By doing so, it strengthens an individual community, so when it unites with others with the same resolve, it amounts to lawmakers creating legislation to reflect society’s changing attitudes.

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