Today the International Women's Congress for a Culture of Peace opens in Oran. One month after the assassination of Hervé Gourdel, this event, placed under high security, intends to testify that there is more news than the spiral of fear. Organized by the Djanatu Al-Arif Foundation (Paradise of the Knowing) and the international NGO AISA and led by Sufi Sheikh Khaled Bentounes, this week of intercultural exchanges focuses on "the feminine energy (of women as well as men), bearer of peace in essence. This commitment to cohabitation that is no longer suffered but fruitful in order to support a "better living together" intends to promote multiple initiatives against identity-based withdrawal.
Witness and actor of this movement, Patrick Busquet is posted in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) for the Fondation Hirondelle (www.hirondelle.org). An expert on mission to the UN and former major reporter, he urges us to move away from the prevailing egocentricity, from brain-coding to violence, and suggests that we focus on shared human values and constructive issues.
Do you think the media can contribute to a culture of peace?
Patrick Busquet : Ten years ago, when I was leading a team in Paris for the creation of an information agency dedicated to social and societal innovations, we carried out a study to evaluate the positive part of the content disseminated by the French media. The result was less than 1%!
This 1% included beautiful individual stories with no collective interest (for example: a parachutist jumps out of a plane having forgotten his parachute, another rushes in, catches him and allows him to touch down without damage); personal development themes, many of which, although interesting and useful, are more self-centred than of general interest; and constructive information on subjects of general interest, oriented towards improving life (for example : Barefoot College, the training centre set up by Bunker Roy in India, which turns illiterate women into solar engineers).
99% of the content produced at the time by the French media was focused on disasters, wars, tensions and conflicts of all kinds, business, news events, entertainment and distraction, gossip, stars, debate and polemics, commentary, commentary of commentary, etc. This is a brain encoding of violence (including that which is not expressed through conflict), the violence of tragedies but also the violence of illusory and artificial realities.
Why not enjoy unlimited reading of UP'? Subscribe from €1.90 per week.
This encoding acts through fragmentation speech (just as there are fragmentation bombs): the contents produced by this speech, in the media or in our everyday exchanges, reduce life to a pulverization of stories. This narration of the world is far, very far from telling life, even though the media, especially the mass media, claim to do so.
What shape do we give to the world?
PB : Through technology, about 4 billion people have become... powerful media. As of 2012, we produce and distribute more content than any other media in the world. It is, massively, content that is almost never verified, often rumour, falsehood, futility; the latter mostly express opinions, narcissistic expressions in a search for profit, immediate enjoyment... A minority of this content brings accurate and original insights, shares useful experiences, is enlightened by human genius.
Thus, the media and audiences are driven by negativity (spirit of division, competition and conflict between people, between cultural representations, between organizations, between nations). Of course, they can mobilize for beauty or generosity, but these logics have only a residual place today.
These negative views were not created by the media. We are their origin. We pass them on to our children at conception, in the women's pool, in our families, in our private environments, in the systems we create. Thus our messages, whether in the media or in conversation, keep the world in the worst (disenchantment, irresponsibility, collective despair...).
In this way, we are building the vision by which our children will, in turn, shape the world. But do we have to talk to our children the way the media talk to us? Why not make the effort to seek, beneath the layers of appearances, the young shoots of true liberation? Why not open a conversation with the media?
The responsibility of the media and individuals is intimately merged. The media can only be criticized within the limits of our influence over them. Because they only disseminate content that we validate. Through the media, we impose the forms of society we desire. In other words, the 99% of negative content that I mentioned are related to our shadowy part. Therefore, the current situation, catastrophic for the psychic health of humanity, can change, through the work of a choice that depends... on us.
Has speech become toxic?
PB What if the human can't talk? What if war was born out of human aphasia? To get out of its civil war, shouldn't humans give a common language to the diversity of their family?
As you know, Fondation Hirondelle was created by Swiss journalists following the massacres between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Congo. For 20 years, it has been setting up media in crisis zones. Its priority is to set up radio stations, which are the least intrusive media. The voice accompanies, while reading forces one to mobilize and the image often diverts its subject for its own benefit.
To fight against disinformation and to favour analyses that decipher the news, join the circle of UP' subscribers.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fondation Hirondelle works with 90 community radio stations out of 400 in the country. Thirteen years ago, it also created Radio Okapi for the UN peace mission, Monusco. It is the most important radio station in the country. When tragic acts occur, listeners report crimes to Radio Okapi long before turning to the police or judicial authorities.
Some journalists, such as Caddy Adzuba, who last week was awarded the Concorde Prize by the Prince of Asturias Foundation in Oviedo (Spain) for her work in the peaceful struggle against violence against women (there are on average 36 rapes a day in the DRC), poverty and discrimination, are heroes and heroes as admirable as they are ordinary.
You're pronouncing a shift in attention...
PB : We know how to be magnificent in misfortune and urgency. We can be magnificent in everyday life. We can treat our negative intoxication, seriously advanced, by giving less mental space to events, by repositioning our gaze on the adventThe aim of the conference was to discuss the issues at stake in building the future and the proposed responses. This means encouraging a new architecture of active speech that identifies an issue, a context, a response, an effect, and that puts our experiences into conversation, in order to pool them. To sublimate the difficulties, and thus enter into a conversation no longer of ideas alone, but of actions: this conversation of experiences will gradually establish our universality, it will lift us into this humanity of which we hold the promise, while destroying it through the negativity that we have accumulated over generations and behavioural confinement. The conversation of experiences will balance the conversation of ideas that often leads us to ideologies and war.
The culture of peace will take root in the world if we nurture initiatives in this direction, and if we develop a "Language of experiences". To facilitate the transformation of the world, we must change our representations. Do you think that we will help a culture of peace to emerge if we continue to confuse, through our media and our conversations, the Islamic/Persian/Arab/Chechen/Afghan/Asian or suburban worlds of rich countries, etc. with violent organizations that take Islam hostage? Similarly, we often mix religious beliefs with moral and social dictatorships, be they sexual, dress, customary, etc.?
If we made the effort to speak more about Jewish-Palestinian villages living in peace, educating for peace, hospital or educational experiences in the same spirit, do you think that these words would not produce a positive effect? Do you think that a peaceful word from women, among themselves, with their spouses, with their children, with their environment, would not gradually dry up the barbarities?
Interview by Dorothée Browaeys, Deputy Editor-in-Chief UP' Magazine