Joseph Cramer, M.D.: A thought experiment to envision peace

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  • Andalia Beach City, TX
    April 9, 2013 10:51 p.m.

    Lagomorph: Your dream of sending hope instead of hurt is a wonderful one. But, we actually don't have to only conjecture about if this would happen because good has happened, many times already, and is happening now as many wonderful soldiers provide aid and food instead of bullets in Afghanistan. And think of the Good Samaritan; I think altruism has always been, but is seldom reported. The possible response of the "enemy" leader to a proffered hand really makes me wonder though. Think about it this way...hasn't the North Korean government refused our advances to send help, doctors, supplies..why? Perhaps a very real, and very sad paranoia is behind their rejection of aid? For the life of me I cannot figure out what would motivate Kim Jong-un to let his people starve, and to threaten superpowers that not only want to help, but who could easily overpower his nation. What has he to gain? If he truly believes he will succeed, then perhaps he knows something I don't, but I think that he is fueled by a disturbed mind worthy to be pitied. What historical examples can you share on the subject?

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    April 9, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    What a lovely exercise. The key element that differentiates it from reality is that no person is aware of his or her own identity (like the skullcap-wearing prisoners in logic puzzles). Someone might be tempted to group others together ("Hey, why don't you join this other Hutu over there?") only for them to notice that he is a Tutsi. So there is little incentive to organize others because they might turn around and bite you. Do the rules of the experiment allow for self-discovery? Can participants ask others to read the labels on their backs? That would seem to lead to fighting and chaos. As long as you are ignorant of your self-identity, everyone else is potentially you.

    Andalia: "What if we shot food instead of bullets? How would the 'enemy' react?"
    I had a fantasy before the Iraq invasion of amassing thousands of doctors, nurses, and engineers on the border and having them sweep across Iraq healing the sick and fixing broken infrastructure. How could Saddam react? Even a tyrant would understand that a violent response wouldn't sell in the global market. Somehow "Shock and Awe" was more appealing stateside, though.

  • Andalia Beach City, TX
    April 9, 2013 1:36 a.m.

    As a recent graduate of BYU - Hawaii, your description of a large room of diverse people rings very true for what campus was for us. With dozens of cultures and subcultures represented and in close confines with one another, stereotyping could have caused great conflict--and it sometimes did-- but it was having the opportunities to serve one another that seemed to fan the light of goodness in each person, regardless of their faith or case against a different culture. It wasn't being stuck on an island together that made us realize we might as well get along, but it was making the individual and personal choice to take food to a sick, hostile, and isolated roommate that struck us with what serving others could do for our hearts, minds, and hardened convictions. Getting to that point is not impossible, convincing a nation to turn to peace happens one person at a time. What if we shot food instead of bullets? How would the "enemy" react?