The Global System: Conditions for Peace, Stability, and Social Justice

Lia Da Giau
Tuesday 6 February 2024

Harman, Willis W. IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine 1, no. 8 (1986): 2–6. https://doi.org/10.1109/maes.1986.5005174. 

Harman discusses the idea that the achievement of peace, stability and social justice requires systemic change of the modern industrial society. The article was written in 1986, and the world in 2023 is taking part in that transformation. Today, we are facing more and more global challenges – from unprecedented environmental changes, to pandemics, migrations and socio-political (violent) conflicts. These challenges emerge naturally, as a consequence of systemic changes. Systemic changes tend to be traumatic transformations, and the challenge explored in this paper is to find ways to attenuate their disruptiveness. Harman proposes the use of peaceful inner imagery as a tool to navigate these crises on an individual and collective level. 

Systemic changes are implemented smoothly when the new paradigm, or scenario, is accepted by an increasing number of people. The new paradigm presented in the paper is centred on the search for wholeness. On a personal and societal level, people are feeling the need to shift away from individualism and cultural globalisation towards community-building and the celebration of one’s intersectional individual identity (e.g., human rights movements, Equity Diversity and Inclusion initiatives). However, change is slowed down by individual and collective limiting beliefs – which are those beliefs about oneself that negatively affect our perceptions and behaviours. Studies included in the paper highlighted how global problems often have psychological origin, as they are the symptoms of a shared mindset in a certain community or society. This leads to one of Harman’s core arguments: if a shared mindset has the power to shape global events, then we can create a more peaceful world by working on constructive and peaceful inner imagery to make people more resilient and supportive of (systemic) changes. Today, the global crisis described in the article is more urgent and complex. As such, it is still relevant and important to engage in research like Harman’s, investigating ways to collectively create the conditions for future peace – for example, through peaceful inner imagery as a form of collective scenario-making. Which other tools/methodologies can we use to create conditions for future peace, and motivate people to support the change?

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