Building high-trust cultures for peace in the South of Thailand

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Bangkok : Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
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17 pages
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Understanding Conflict and Approaching Peace in Southern Thailand
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Lack of trust is one of the most fundamental problems in the three provinces in the South of Thailand. There is no trust among civilian people, insurgents, news reporters and government officials. If we do not trust people, we will never be able to cooperate with them and empower them. Yet all actual entities are subject to change. In this sense, we cannot trust any person or any actual thing at all. We cannot trust even our own hearts. Today we may fall in love with one person, but tomorrow we may experience a change of heart and fall in love with another. If every (actual) thing is impermanent, then should we live our lives without trust? Should we live our lives in despair? No, not at all. In fact, in our daily lives, we use trust in response to impermanence and change. If we do not trust a bridge, how can we use it to cross over? If we do not trust food and beverages, how can we eat and drink them? If we do not trust friends, colleagues and people around us, how can we live with them peacefully? How do we trust that tomorrow the sun will rise in the east? The answer is obvious: because we trust the laws of nature. Natural law is believed to be permanent and never subject to change. Why do we trust people around us? The answer is also obvious. Because we have faith that those people possess certain principles and values like love, justice, integrity, respect, and equality, which provide stability in the face of change. Trust inspires participation and empowerment, and participation and empowerment lead to peace. Therefore, to build a culture of peace requires the creation of trust, through the cultivation of stable principles and values.
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A non-violent solution in the South is both logically and factually possible of and only if we care for a politics of recognition. As Habermas says, "Multicultural societies require a 'politics of recognition' because the identity of each individual citizen is woven together with collective identities, and must be stabilized in a network of mutual recognition. The individual's existential dependence on intersubjectively shared traditions and identity-forming communities explains why the integrity of the legal person cannot be secured without equal cultural rights in culturally differentiated societies."
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