Natural Disasters: Opportunities for Peacemaking

Could natural disasters be opportunities for communities that are adversarial or unfamiliar with each other to cooperate rebuilding lives and renewing the environment?
 
After the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile became international news, and showed an outpouring of humanitarian concern and involvement, there has been little discussion about how to continue bringing nations together to cooperate during the redevelopment process. Countries around the world donated their time, energy, and money into rescuing victims and alleviating suffering in both Haiti and Chile when the disasters struck. But what about the months, and years to come? How will the international community engage demolished areas during the effort to rebuild?
 
Unfortunately, we can rely upon the status quo: the international community will not maximize the opportunity to bring groups of people together strategically to work hand-in-hand through the long term to redevelop areas ravaged by disaster. The reason for this is simple: lack of insight how natural disasters could become catalysts to cultivate coexistence. Yet, the opportunities clearly are there.
 
…cooperation between the international teams [in Haiti], which had arrived from 30 different states, was strengthened by the Sabbath prayer. “We sat with Jordanian security guards, an Israeli team, and people from Qatar and Egypt.
 
Working together to provide crucial services to people who are struggling, while sharing cultures with each other, is an excellent method in which rivals begin to re-evaluate each other as humane, compassionate, and friendly rather than as suspicious, destructive and untrustworthy. This is true not only in times of crisis, but during calm as well. The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile created fertile grounds to bring opponents together, to provide them with economic incentives (e.g. contracts) for rebuilding devastated areas in concert with each other, and to foster new belief in coexistence as they work together to improve the lives of disadvantaged people. Humanitarian response to large-scale emergency situations offers opportunities for adversaries to create tangible results of their cooperation, and gain first-hand insight that “the despised other” is capable of enormous goodness.
 
Nobody sane wishes tragic natural disasters to befall countries. Yet, when they inevitably do, they present new chances to promote peace by bringing adversarial or unfamiliar parties together to cooperate offering hope, healing the environment, and changing ravaged areas into places that thrive. What a great way to celebrate life… together. Thus, not only would rivals heal devastated areas, but they also would recognize each other’s humanity and begin to heal their own conflict too as they do so.
 
The next time natural disaster unfortunately strikes, just a little organization would prevent a lot of hate. 
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