Moral imagination is a concept that is based on people’s ability to imagine something that does not exist. Notably, the term moral does not refer to morality or ethics, but it refers to people’s mind and capacity to contemplate.
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According to Lederach, moral imagination is the minds’ capacity to create something which has not existed yet. The concept presupposes three basic characteristics: perception of the reality and capacity to understand the ties, creativity and ability to transcend the reality.
The concept of moral imagination is important in terms of conflict management as it helps peacemakers envision particular ways to reach agreement. Thus, each peacemaker’s capacity to imagine possible ways out contributes to the process of peacemaking.
Lederach’s concept reveals people’s ability to find solutions which are acceptable for the parties involved in the conflict. People are capable of seeing ties which can help unite a society.
For instance, the conflict in Northern Ireland can be regarded as an example of the effective use of the concept. Thus, people in the region had certain imagination to create the reality without a conflict.
The conflict led to lots of causalities and it was hard to think of a peaceful solution of the problem. Nonetheless, peacemakers were capable of creating something that had not existed.
Notably, ordinary people also contributed greatly to the process of peacemaking as they also envisioned possible ways out.
Such examples of the civil society in Northern Ireland as response to Omagh bombing, mural painting clip, peace walls suggest that people envisioned different ways to resolve the conflict, i.e. they saw many things which had not existed.
For example, the response to Omagh bombing was really suggestive. People were united by the idea of non-violent methods. Citizens believed that violence could not be a way out as it was painful for both parties and it was absolutely unacceptable.
Murals can be regarded as some of the most conspicuous examples of moral imagination as they are graphic reflections of people’s vision, i.e. manifestation of moral imagination.
In his book, Lederach also provides the pyramid theory. The theory presupposes division of the stakeholders into three major layers: top leadership, middle leadership and grassroots leadership. The process of peacemaking can be horizontal or vertical in nature.
According to Lederach’s theory, the peacemaking process can take place within the major layers, or it can also involve representatives of all layers.
More so, according to this theory, the process can be top-down or bottom-up. In the former case, the incentive comes from the top leadership, whereas in the latter case, the grassroots leadership is the initiating power.
Another theory is the web theory. According to this concept, the process is based on the development of ties. Peacemakers start at the core of the problem. They identify central issues to be addressed.
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Once the core issues are discovered, peacemakers start creating centric circles. Importantly, the central hub is constantly being reinforced as it is the basis of the peacemaking process.
Thus, peacemakers try to find some mutual interests, common values, shared views to make people resolve the conflict.
Admittedly, regions where several ethnical groups live are vulnerable to a variety of conflicts. Cyprus is one of such places. Historically, this region was divided into two camps. The first Greek settlers in the region came to Cyprus in the 3 century BC.
This was the start of Hellenization of the island. The region adopted customs and traditions of Ancient Greece. Ottomans invaded Cyprus in the late sixteenth century. The rule of the Ottoman Empire lasted for almost three centuries. Of course, this rule resulted in new settlers in the region.
Since then, there have been lots of conflicts between the two largest groups in Cyprus, i.e. Greeks and Turkish people. Admittedly, the two opposing parties have different views on the past, present and the future of the region.
Greeks claim that they were the first to come and, therefore, the island should be seen as Greek. Greek Cypriots long for the union with Greece. They want Cyprus to become a part of Greece in the future.
At the same time, Turkish people argue that the invasion of the Ottoman Empire changed the island’s demographics. They stress that Turkish people also have their right to self-determine as the island became there home, too.
Turkish inhabitants of the island state that now they have their right to affect the decisions made by the leaders of Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots long for independence and want Cyprus to be an independent state in the future.
It is necessary to note that the population of ethnic Turks was about 20% in the second part of the twentieth century. There are many examples when different ethnical groups effectively co-exist and even collaborate, but this was not the case for Cyprus.
Culture plays vital role in the escalation of the conflict. Greeks were traditionally Christians while Turks were Muslims and religion was one of the most serious issues which often led to conflicts.
Cultural differences made Cypriots divide into two opposing camps. Historically, Muslims pursued Christians and vice versa.
However, there is a possibility to resolve the conflict. Cosmopolitan way to resolve the conflict in Cyprus can be effective. Cyprus is no longer a place where people of two ethnicities try to co-exist.
At present, there are newcomers and there are second and third generations of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. These new generations can form another mindset.
They can adopt cosmopolitan views. These generations can come to the conclusion that such notions as humanity, humanness and cooperation for the good of all are much more important than such notions as identity and individuality.
This can be the best way to resolve the conflict as the contemporary society is very different from the society of the twentieth century. The contemporary globalized world is based on cosmopolitan principles, i.e. people are ready to cooperate.
New generations are ready to adopt (and have already adopted) new ways as there is no room for separatism in the modern globalized world. Admittedly, there are groups that try to pursue certain individualistic goals.
However, many countries and regions in the world try to focus on more serious issues, e.g. environment, technological development, etc.
Civil societies played quite an important role in the resolution of the conflict in Cyprus and in Northern Ireland. Quite different methods are used in the two regions. However, there were some similar efforts. For instance, there were peace walls in both cases.
The walls have become the symbols of the peace and the former conflict. The walls have become a reminder of the turmoil. There were also attempts to reconcile opposing groups by introducing some changes into the educational curriculum.
The people of Northern Ireland and Cyprus have tried to bring up new generations, i.e. young people who longed for living in peace with each other.
In Northern Ireland, school children came to school together, which was a symbol of reconciliation. Cypriots created websites and launched a variety of programs to promote ideas of collaboration.
These efforts were somewhat different from those used in another state. Thus, Iranian civil societies did not focus on promotion of ideas only. They also created a specific financial basis for the development of the new society.
They launched numerous charity campaigns. Of course, there were also activities aimed at promoting peace. The use of media was also remarkable in this process.
It is necessary to note that all these civil societies’ efforts have advantages and drawbacks. One of the most effective methods is promotion of ideas of peace and cooperation. Investing into development of the new generation can be beneficial in the long run.
Admittedly, this method is time-consuming, but it is still very effective as the very mindset of people is being affected. New generations do not think of the goals their parents and grandparents were trying to achieve.
As for such activities as revealing friendship between representatives of the two camps, it is also quite effective. However, such methods are symbolic in nature and they tend to remain only reminders.
These methods also have quite short-lived results. In other words, people get inspired by the sight of children from the opposing camps walking together, but this vision is soon replaced by long-lasting aspirations. Building walls also had favorable effects.
However, the walls did not resolve the conflict, but were temporary remedy. Walls only reduced the number of conflict situations though the major conflict persisted.
It is unlikely that one of these methods can be the necessary solution. Each of these methods has played certain role in the process of peacemaking. More so, the combination of these methods resulted in resolution of the conflict situation.
Thus, it is important to focus on the development of new educational curriculum and promotion of ideas of peace and collaboration. It is crucial to bring up new generations. However, it is inappropriate to ignore such methods as charity and development of financial basis.
Admittedly, the state with weak economy is vulnerable to some turmoil. At the same time, financial collaboration between people of different cultural backgrounds can strengthen the society.
There are also cases when construction of walls is inevitable. Thus, to prevent people from escalating the conflict, it is effective to build a wall in the places where unrest is common.
Amb. Mousavian highlighted a lot of aspects of the relations between Iran and the US in 1979. Thus, Iranian officials did not want to comply with the regulations posed by the international organizations. More so, every concession was regarded as a step back and failure for Iran.
At the same time, Iranian leaders anticipated financial support on behalf of the international organizations. Citizen democracy can have positive impact on the development of such situations. Admittedly, leaders can pursue certain goals.
However, citizens should take their stand to ensure their own safety. People should make their voices heard to live in peace and prosperity.