Halloween party ideas 2015

By Pu Zarzosang Varte*

Patience, patience, patience... We do have many matchsticks of potentials and capacities but we sure lack a matchbox of enlightenment and wills to light it. Are there anyone out there who can help us light the matchsticks to provide light; one who's willing to compromise for peace but unwilling to compromise for violence; anyone?


Conflict and Peace-The Reality: We are living in troubled times- times when honesty and decency are hard to find and making an attempt to change things for the better for the sake of honesty, decency, patriotism and selflessness can sometimes be like a death wish. There are also times where a person can actually be a catalyst/perpetrator for more confusion, chaos and division while believing or having the impression that he/she is doing the right thing. What is good for one may not be acceptable or right for the others. But then, you cannot make everything right for everybody or make everybody happy. God himself doesn't do that eventhough He definitely can if He wanted to. What God doesn’t want or doesn't do, we, being mere mortals definitely can't. It is therefore like walking on a tight-rope. This is the dilemma faced by every right-thinking members of the society. Due to this very reason, some even went to the extent of saying that "to be patriotic, sincere, honest and be decent is to get killed or if not that, to be stymied and rendered immobile. So, it’s better to leave things as they rather than be dead or be rendered immobile. Self-sacrifices are a thing of the past. Abandon ship! It’s now every man for himself!!!"

Inspite of the whining of those already discouraged and disillusioned, there are still some people who continue to work unceasingly (all the while knowing what the consequences could be if they make even one 'wrong' move) for a better tomorrow- a better tomorrow that will invariably involves both micro-macro de-structuring and restructuring present systems resulting in creating spaces for transformation of both the physical and meta-physical dimensions which is often easier said than done but yes, possible. “Commune periculum concordiam parit - Common danger brings forth harmony” says a Latin proverb and I dare say there is truth in it.

Nevertheless, inspite of determination and wholeheartedness, there are limits to the extent to which a person, acting separately or within a wider ethnic or national community, can be can bear or proceed because that person also have needs that must be satisfied and catered for. It is when these needs are repressed that there comes a situation of violence, apathy or withdrawal tendency to opposition on the part that person who has been most passionate and selfless in his/her efforts to bring peace. This therefore led the person to think that peace cannot be attained through non-violence; that non-violence is past its glory. I have heard such people say “In order to cure a disease, you need to kill the germs causing it. Simply put, you need to be also ruthless in order to bring peace” or “fight fire with fire”. Words like these will come to no good ends. One should not and cannot make evil in order that good may be made from it. Remember the saying "a wise man does not pee into the wind"?

From abstract authenticity to concrete authenticity: Ideas and theories are not always practicable or realistic. Sometimes, the ground reality may be quite a different story. This, therefore, is what we all need to be careful not to ignore. Nevertheless, Man without ideals is like a ship sailing on the high seas but without a compass and oars for he has no directions and no active strength. We need to keep our idealisms and dreams alive for they are the only source of hope and strength for us. Ideals and practice have a 50-50 role to play in dealing with reality All the great men in history were dreamers and idealist first and then practical. Their biggest quality was they knew when to wake up from their dreams and knew how to nurture the ideals born out of dreams into maturity- where maturity becomes the pragmatic. They have had their hopes shattered at least one time in their life but they kept their ideals and dreams intact that enabled them to rebuild their hopes and their strength. So we cannot stop but dream and have ideals for they are our only hope. However, we need to know (1) when to wake up from our dreams (2) knowing what dreams are or can be translated into ideals and (3) knowing how to channel those ideals into inspirations and strength that will help us to deal with the present. Have we really known and tried these?

We all have been shouting ourselves hoarse over the need for unity, peace, honesty, etc etc, but it seems like we still missed something somehow, somewhere because we are still afflicted with the same diseases as we were before, no matter how hard we all have been working. Maybe we are so engrossed with ourselves; so very much in love with the sound of our own voice and ideas that we have actually made the people for whom we are supposed to be working and profess to be working with the "Forgotten People"; maybe we have become dictatorial and forcing down all our hi-fi ideas down the throat of the people and choking them without even being aware of it. Maybe these irresponsible actions of ours have actually led to worsen the conflict scenario.

It has become a kind of trend among us to first bank on a knowledge or technique which is not our own to do things thinking that everything, anything foreign especially from Europe and the West better than ours. Eventhough I admit that some foreign imports are actually very good, I don’t think every of those ‘imports’ are good or applicable for us. It is actually too much of the ‘foreign’ in us that’s creating confusion, chaos and division among our ranks and files. Many of these ‘imports’ also blatantly lack originality. We have our own indigenous-based knowledge much better than many of those so-called foreign imports. Know this- many of the so-called solutions, especially with regards to social issues have been borrowed from cultures and societies like us but artfully modified to suit their own needs. Let us start cultivating faith in our own capabilities and potentials. Let us gear up ourselves to first do it with sincerity and commitments. I do say others will follow suit if we can set up an example. Remember the saying – “God helps those who help themselves”?

The Bible says "Love your neighbours as you love yourself" and the people who we hate are not just our neighbours but sometimes our very kits and kin. And if we all cannot be honest with ourselves regarding this commandment and our very poor practice of IT, we just can't expect others to be honest with us. Can we? The Bible further says "Don't commit unto others what you yourself don't want others to commit unto you". Thus, we must now try to practice what we preach and one cannot do this while we wait for others to first do or have commitments to something. It is an injustice to ask others to do things which we ourselves are not ready to do or to be committed to. But wait, caution is needed here. One thing that needs to be taken into consideration is that we all should never forget the realisticism and practicability of what we preach and try to practice.

Chris Spies, a Conflict Transformation expert once said: "The dilemma with change is that everyone likes to talk about it, but very few have insight into their own willingness to change, let alone their ability to influence change. Those who see the need for change often want others to change first. That applies to adversaries and onlookers, but also to analysts and practitioners. Why is this the case?" These words have been alive within me ever since.

History tells us that many-a-times, people have been led astray by orators, scholars, politicians, humanitarians and religious leaders alike by ideas that have no applicability when it comes to the practical level eventually and unfortunately leading to their total destruction. We need to be really careful in our approaches, methodologies and techniques of how we deal with issues by knowing what we think; be sure of what we really and sincerely believe to be right but at the same time accommodating; cultivating listening skills instead of drowning oneself into one's voice; having the will to listen to others and the will to incorporate others' ideas where and when applicable; the will to compromise one's stand and the will to take one's limitations and shortcomings like a man even when somebody who's considered a 'nobody' points/expose it to us.

Inter alia, we've had our fair share of ups and downs in our life as members of a family, a social being in general and a societal group in particular; our fair share of dilemmas in our roles as one of those responsible members which sometimes almost drove us to the point of madness therefore making one’s task the more daunting. However, inspite of the seemingly daunting task of bringing peace in our society where “peace” is sometimes almost equated with an Utopian ideal, we have the ability to dream and we do dream. The dreams we had became ideals. The ideals we had became hope and poetry. Hope and poetry gave us the strength. Strength gave us the energy and enthusiasm for life. Enthusiasm gave us the needed inspiration and integrity. Inspiration and integrity give us the skills and wisdoms to deal with reality. And these chains of events have led us to where we're now.

Towards a more Technical side on Conflict, Violence and Peace: The fact that there are so many men still alive in the world shows that peace is not based on the force of arms but on the forces of truth and love. Thousands, indeed tens of thousands, depend for their existence on a very active working of these forces. Little quarrels of millions of families in their daily lives disappear before the existence of these forces. Hundreds of nations can live and have lived in peace because of these forces. In his essay published in 1909, Mahatma Gandhi pointed out that a force besides war and violence underlies the human world. However, according to him, these basic forces are not easily apparent to human awareness, and cannot be documented in history. This explains how historical documents seem to focus instead on a succession of wars and conflicts, whereas the real world is sustained through a peace promoting force that seems invisible to the sciences and media. (Sponsel 1994: 18) It is not only history, sciences or media, but it is also US who cannot or tends to overlook/document the workings of the forces of truth and love but tends to register only the workings of the forces of wars, conflicts and hate mostly imprinted on our memories by ourselves. Non-violent or peaceful societies appear to be rare not because they are in truth, rare but because non-violence and peace are rarely considered by our conscious ‘reality’.

On this premise, one needs to ask a question on “What theoretical approach and perspective needs to be employed to allow such invisible force or the real reality of peace and non-violence kept invisible by the other co-existing realities, be visible?” From the relational side perspective, peace is a mode of relationality to others on the various levels. Relational peace is not restricted to the international or inter-state relationship. State authorities play just one part. (Horishi 2007: 5) As in the model of John Paul Lederach (1997), social, cultural, religious and economic activities of non-state actors, local or civil society actors can substantatively contribute to the process of relational peace.

Social conflict, whether manifesting itself through violent or non-violent means, occurs as a result of competing agendas, often as a result of misunderstanding due to lack of proper communication or lack of the will to negotiate and compromise, among groups. Conflict and violence are taken almost as something synonymous to each other. It is the understanding of many that conflicts invariably involve violence. In her ethnography of Mozambique, ‘A Different Kind of War Story’, anthropologist Carolyn Nordstrom asks “Exactly what is violence? Is it an act, a drive, an emotion, a sensation, a relationship, an intent to harm; A thing, an event, a concept, a process, an interaction; An intangible threat, a tangible force; Something physically felt, something emotionally registered, something conceptually recognized; Something that is over with the end of the act, or something that reconfigures reality in its very occurrence, making the concept of ‘over’ meaningless?” (Nordstrom, 1997:16). Nordstrom asks us, in short, to consider the widely varying forms in which violence can be understood and undergone.

Eventhough Conflicts and Violence are taken as synonymous and that conflicts are understood as predominantly negative, there is the need to understand that all conflicts are not regressive and that all conflicts doesn’t always involve violence. Lack of this understanding often leads to misconception of conflicts and an inaccuracy in one’s analysis of our own situation. To guard ourselves against such folly, we will take the following points as constructive conflicts sans violence:

1. People, relationships, and worldviews are allowed to change.
2. People learn from conflict.
3. People feel empowered and have better self-esteem.
4. People want to pursue positive relationships with others.
5. People express empathy & concern for others.
6. People act cooperatively in equal relationships.

Now coming towards the regressive conflicts, we have situations where:

1. People resist change.
2. People seek to protect themselves & hurt others.
3. People are defined by the conflict.
4. People seek to destroy the other person.
5. People look out only for their own interests.
6. People act competitively in relationships marked by domination & demeaning communication.

With regards to dimension of conflicts, we have:

1. Material Resources: conflict over land, money, water, power, etc.
2. Social Relationships: conflict over the ways people treat each other, communication between people, etc.
3. Perceptions: conflict over different values, worldviews and different ways people understand societies or the world.

Keeping in view the above points, we therefore need to tackle three main areas:

(a) What are the issues (indicators) that underpin and drive the conflict?
(b) What are the factors (indicators) that put a brake on conflict and serve as the basis for peace?
(c) Who are the main stakeholders in the conflict?
(d) What are the main peace factors, synergies, and peace-building gaps we see?
(e) What strategic choices have to be made by the responding institution(s)?

Conflict indicators can be identified at various levels (manifestations, proximate and root causes of conflict). Similarly, peace indicators can be identified at various levels (ongoing peace efforts, structures, and processes in place, and peace-building gaps). Stakeholder dynamics can be understood by reviewing actions, agendas/needs, and alliances.

When going over all of these steps, it is easy to fall into the "hammer seeing every problem as a nail" trap. Hence, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, in order to encourage each other to think more broadly beyond our own respective concepts and stop being bull-headed, the answer lies in knowing our own capabilities, abilities, commitments and limitations while at the same time creating openings for the basic ingredients to sustainable peace and societal prosperity like unity, understanding, accommodating, caring, sharing and most important of all- LOVE to grow. We, especially students who are the future, need to inculcate some necessary skills in us if we really want to make our society better. We need to learn from the mistake of others in order to instill in us-

*Self-reflection skills
*Active listening skills
*Diplomatic and assertive speaking skills
*Appreciative inquiry skills
*Creative problem-solving skills
*Dialogue skills
*Negotiation skills
*Mediation skills

At the same time, we must always remember to ask the Strategic ‘What’, ‘Who’, ‘When’, ‘Where’ and ‘How’ of any situations so as to be able to understand the context and us help design a realistic approaches to our problems.

Conclusion: I do believe people may call me a theorist and a first-class idealist whose life is based on abstraction. Even if this may be so, then let be it for I dare say that it is from abstraction that the concrete came into existence and existence lies in one’s proximity with one’s abstraction. Therefore, I personally feel that even if the scenario is as bleak as it appear; I be the only man standing, I will still happily hunt for a means to peace through the non-violent way for, I'm sure and fully convinced that the much-hankered DAWN is somewhere and we only need to know where and how to look for it or grope around in the dark trying to find the door that will show us the way. In our fast-paced world of today, everyone is so busy that we have very little time to think. This is where the main fault line lies. Great things are discovered, invented and accomplished only when one allows himself time to think. So, let’s start thinking. We've done enough without thinking. Let’s start doing things alongwith thinking. But yes, with right thinking and right doing.

In culmination, I would like to add “Man makes mistakes not always because of carelessness but because of being human. But to knowingly allow or commit the same mistakes to happen again and again will amount to sheer carelessness or sheer stupidity”. Thus, learning from past experiences, isn’t it time that we, the new generations prevent history repeating itself again and again and instead start having the consciousness to start leading in order to serve, not in order to rule? Mortui Vivos Docent- "(Let the) dead teach the living".


1. Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand. 1909 (Reprinted 1997). Hind Swaraj and other writings. Parel, Anthony J. (ed.). Cambridge University Press.

2. ODA, Horishi. 2007. Peacebuilding from Below. In: Journal of the Graduate School of Nature, Hokkaido University, Vol-2, March 2007.

3. Lederach, John Paul. 1997. Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies. United States Institute of Peace Press.

4. Nordstrom, Carolyn. 1997. A Different Kind of War Story. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

5. Sponsel, Leslie E. and Gregor, Thomas (eds). 1994. The Anthropology of Peace and Non-violence. Lynne Rienner Publishers.


1. Anderson, Mary B. 1999. Do No Harm: How Aid Can Support Peace Or War. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner.

2.Escobar, Arturo. 1995. Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

3. Ferguson, James. 1994. The Anti-Politics Machine: ‘Development’, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

4. Jackson, Stephen. 2001. Our Riches are Being Looted!. War Economies and Rumours of Crime in the Kivus, D.R. Congo. Politique Africaine.

5. Morse, Ted. 2001. How Do We Change the Way We Use Foreign Assistance to Help Prevent Deadly Conflicts?. Paper given at the conference ‘The Role of Foreign Assistance in Conflict Prevention’, USAID and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C.

6. Moore, Jonathan. 2001. International Constraints and Indigenous Strengths in Preventive Development. Paper given at the conference ‘The Role of Foreign Assistance in Conflict Prevention’, USAID and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C.

7. OECD / DAC. 2001. Helping Prevent Violent Conflict: Orientations for External Partners. Supplement to the DAC Guidelines on Conflict, Peace and Development Co-operation on the Threshold of the 21st Century. Paris: OECD.

8. Uvin, Peter. 1998. Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda. West Hartford, Connecticut: Kumarian Press.

9. Uvin, Peter. 1999. The Influence of Aid in Situations of Violent Conflict: A synthesis and a commentary on the lessons learned from case studies on the limits and scope for the use of development assistance incentives and disincentives for influencing conflict situations. Paris: OECD / DAC Informal Task Force On Conflict, Peace and Development Co-Operation.

*The writer Mr. Immanuel Zarzosang Varte is a Research Scholar in the Department of Anthropology, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong. An ex- President, HSA Shillong Jt. Hqrs. and presently an Executive Committee Member of the HSA, General Headquarters, his specialty lies in the study of socio-cultural dynamisms and is also actively involved in Social work, especially on conflict and peace and an ardent proponent of a non-violent solution to conflict situations.

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