is it just me, or are there a whole lot more war dramas and programmes on tv than their used to be? i've avoided pretty much all of them, i think.
it's not that i don't like war stuff per se - i watched stuff like the manchurian candidate (denzel washington version), enemy at the gates and other stuff i'm sure, that i thought were good. but what concerns me is that there are so many more stories being told about war than there are stories about peace.
i'm also concerned that many of the war stories are told in a way that don't glamorise war as such, but glamorise aspects of it. i'm finding it difficult to word this the right way. it's not a bad thing thing to show stories of courage under fire, and of people committing noble acts in absolutely awful situations. but unless those stories also show the horror and suffering of war, the impact on civilians not just from loss of life but also loss of infrastructure, and the severe trauma on combat personnel, i'm afraid that those stories tend to make war sound a little bit like a good thing, a noble thing even.
tie this in with the increasingly jingoistic nature of anzac day, and it becomes a development that i'm a little uncomfortable with. i've often said that if we spent as much on peace as we do on war, then the world would be an infinitely better place. but it would also be helpful if we could have more stories about peace, and if we could celebrate those stories a lot more. i'm thinking about stories that show tense situations solved by negotiation and compromise. i'm pretty sure those can be pretty intense and interesting viewing - i'm thinking for example of those hostage-type dramas where a kick-ass negotiating team saves the day.
the thing is that unless we have a greater focus on peace and celebrate peace, we're less likely to achieve it. in order for that to happen, peace making needs to become a part of our popular culture. it needs to be a greater part of our public discourse. it should be part of a public holiday where we spend time sharing stories about and commemorating peace and peace-keeping initiatives.
fortunately, there are other people in the country who think like i do, and who have been actively doing something about it. the aotearoa nz peace & conflict studies centre trust (yes, quite a mouthful) have successful in setting up the national peace & conflict centre at otago university. their july 2010 newsletter isn't online yet, but you can read previous newsletters here. they're currently looking for "an experienced fundraiser to help us generate
more support from individuals, businesses, and charitable trusts". another initiative is:
... a workshop on Peace Education in New Zealand early childhood, primary and secondary schools on the 29th and 30th October in Dunedin. The aim is to bring together teachers, providers, and the Ministry of Education to discuss what has happened in the field of Peace Education in NZ, what is happening now, and what needs to happen.
all good stuff. i'd also love to see nz on air and the film commission providing specified funding for film and programme makers to develop peace-related material - documentary or fiction. and wouldn't it be nice if we actually had a ministry of peace with funding equal to that of the ministry of defence. ah well, dreams are free.