“Blessed are the peacemakers.” We value peacemakers. We may even aspire to be among them. But often we have no firm conception of what it means to “make peace.” Does it mean to cause the cessation of conflict, by whatever means? Or does it refer only to non-violent efforts to mediate disputes, or to bring non-military pressures to bear? And what does it mean to succeed? Is it enough that the conflict stops? Or is it necessary to repair the damage done? As it turns out, what we think of as the “right” answers to these questions depends in part on our cultural assumptions regarding the basic role of the individual in society – the distinction between an individualistic society and a collectivist one. These differing approaches have implications in both large and small disputes.
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