In this essay, I would like to discuss the research article Conflict Resolution among Peaceful Societies, written by Bruce Bonta. The work is helpful to the extent that it describes the major elements of peacemaking, and most importantly, the author tries to show the difference in perception of the conflict by people belonging to different cultures. The major argument, which the scholar advances, is that there are the so-called “peaceful societies” that take a drastically different approach to settling the problems, especially in comparison with European or American communities (Bonta, 1996, p. 403). In particular, he maintains that people in some regions are less aggressive than we are, and they usually try to avert collisions sometimes even at their own expense, which is not typical of Western counties. Naturally, this is just a hypothesis that can be either refuted or substantiated; however, this version should be taken into account.
Prior to analyzing this article, we should first give the definition of conflict. Overall, it can be interpreted as a state of opposition between interests and ideas (Schellenberg, 1996). It can have a wide range of consequences, depending upon the degree or severity of the problem. There is a widely-held opinion among many sociologists and psychologists that conflict is an inherent part of any community, and there is virtually no way to eradicate this phenomenon. Furthermore, many scholars believe that also contributes to the development and progress, in other words, a society, which is devoid of any controversies or disagreements, does not evolve and remains primitive (Myers, 2006). To some extent, this theory is quite grounded because very often the relationships between people stagnate and only collision can revive them. Moreover, under some circumstances, it is almost inevitable mostly due to the socio-economic or educational disparities.
In his turn, Bruce Bonta describes the mechanism of conflict resolution in a peaceful society. This notion does not necessarily mean that there are no controversies between people, and one should no presume that they are living in earthly paradise (Bonta, 1996). In fact, the author points out that they are usually semi sedentary or nomadic people, namely he mentions the Semai, who live in Malay Peninsula, or the Chewong in Malaysia. From traditional point of view, this people belong to the third world, and as a rule, they are often regarded as primitive, uneducated, and so forth. However, we should way pay extra attention to they way, they resolve various conflicts in the course of interaction with one another. First, Bruce Bonta says that they make everything possible to avoid punishment as means of resolution. Even if one side of the argument is clearly wrong, the “bechara” (the tribe council) would restore parity, but there will be no retaliation (Bonta, 1996, p. 404). In the overwhelming majority of cases, the council resorts to obstructionism or boycott. In the scholars view, the major difference between Americans and these nations lies in the following: in the United States, people are more intent on “fulfilling justice” rather than looking for a consensus (404). Naturally, the author does not advocate the belief that such life is better than in the US, however, some of its elements may prove to be helpful for us.
As regards the mechanism of handling the disputes, in his work, the researcher explores various nations, and he does not state that there is some universal approach or panacea. First, he states that the major elements are not very unusual, namely, he speaks about the identification of the conflict, clarifying the needs of the participants, the generation of possible options, evaluation of the decision and the development of the action plan (Bonta, 1996). However, the major peculiarity consists in the methods of handling and the principles to which these people adhere to. For example, Bruce Bonta marks out such strategies as separation, self-restraint, the intervention of the third party, humor, meeting etc. One cannot say that they are not employed in Western societies, certainly, they can be observed, but for us the higher authority is the third party or the state, while the Semai attempt to avoid intervention. We usually perceive conflict as something intrinsic to us, while they believe that it is not normal for human being to fight or struggle with one another; according to them, it leads only to destruction and chaos. The author argues that people, living in the civilized world, should take a closer look at the peaceful nations as they prove that the community without wars can actually exist. Still, it has to be admitted that this society is virtually static because disagreement or controversy not only destroy but they may help people to develop.
To conclude, in this work, Bruce Bonta describes the difference between peaceful and conflict societies. It mostly lies in the approach that members of the community take to settling the problem: we are more likely to pursue our own interests, while they are more peace-oriented and the preservation of peace is of crucial importance for them. This study can be further continued by narrowing down the scope of the research. On the whole, the findings indicate that the idea of conflict-free society is not altogether unrealistic.
- Bonta B (1996). Conflict Resolution among Peaceful Societies: The Culture of Peacefulness. Journal of Peace Research, vol 33, (4), pp 403 -420.
- Myers. D (2006). Social Psychology. McGraw-Hill.
- Schellenberg. J (1996). Conflict resolution: theory, research, and practice. SUNY Press.