Religio-Cultural Contributions to Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding: Inputs From Exodus 23:5

Religio-Cultural Contributions to Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding: Inputs From Exodus 23:5

Gerald E. Umoren (University of Uyo, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2574-6.ch017
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In the face of incessant conflict in today's society, coupled with the recurrent difficulty at attaining the needed peace building, this chapter seeks to examine the impact of a Judeo-Christian culture in conflict resolution. Building on the interpretation of Exodus 23:5, this chapter proposes not only to project the findings of its exegesis as a cultural perspective, but also to weigh how much this religio-cultural perspective has already impacted on, or could currently and hitherto contribute to peace building and conflict resolution. Employing the historical critical method from an analytical point of view, this chapter progresses from a simple exegetical analysis of the text to an evaluation that leaves useful recommendations for the future. The conclusions of the chapter would hold a lot of relevant implications for conflict resolution and peace studies today and beyond.
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Conflict in today’s world is becoming alarming in many quarters. From the family to the small communities; from the State to the entire nation; from the continents to every part of the globe, it is not uncommon to hear of strife and conflict. The background of conflict today is basically the inability of the parties concerned to settle individual differences responsibly and amicably (Avruch, 1998). When it escalates, it moves beyond the initial local disagreement to an organized enmity between families, friends and communities, etc. This has the tendency, not only to generate but also to increase hatred. A typical case study is the recurrent hatred that is welled by retaliation in the boundary communities of Essien Udim and Obot Akara Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State. But, since it is conventionally held that ‘prevention is better than cure’, and if man must retain his nature as ‘homo sapiens’ and maintain a peaceful society, it is necessary, not only to explore solutions towards the restoration of such peace but also there is need for prevention of further strife and genuine peace building whenever conflict occurs.

One important ‘vehicle’ of attitude and human action in human endeavour is ‘culture.’ Given that man is basically a cultural being; his activities are often shaped and defined by culture thereby making culture a determinant factor in social engagement. Also, given that culture reflects the way of life of the people, and since man’s life is expressed in different ways, culture, too, can be seen and understood from different points of views. The presumption would be that, as a rational being, man would bring this reason to bear in his inter-relationships. This explains the reason for current investigation into the impact of culture in man’s endeavours – in this case, the impact of culture in peace building.

The understanding of culture as a ‘vehicle’ of human expression and need for conflict resolution and peace building in today’s world has generated a lot of scholarship. Seen as way of life, many aspects of human behavior have been explored to see if any and how many can meaningfully impact on the desired peace hunt in the world. Many aspects of cultural manifestations have been explored in search of a viable model for peace building and conflict resolution. While scholarship must admit that there has been considerable progress in some quarters, it is also a fact of experience that the progress does not lead to a lasting resolution and above all, current efforts seem to be focused on resolution and leaving – off the more important task of conflict prevention. In the face of these different failed attempts at finding the right model and retaining the desired results, it has become necessary to examine the place, role and impact of other cultural perspectives not just in the context of conflict resolution but more importantly, conflict prevention and genuine peace building.

Believing that a religious culture is key to peace-building, it becomes imperative to examine the religious proposition in Exodus 23: 5 especially as this points to a Judeo-Christian kind of model which promises to be relevant and impactful in conflict resolution or prevention. The advantage that this religious culture has over other cultures that may have been, or may, in future be employed, is that, unlike many other cultures that just prescribe a way of life to be followed, a religious culture makes its provisions binding and leaves it as a ‘duty’ for members of that culture to follow (ChurchPOP Editor, 2016). The main aim of this book chapter, therefore, is to ascertain the relevance/impact or otherwise of such religious (Biblical) culture not just in conflict resolution but more so in conflict prevention and peace-building in order to apply such findings and conclusions for the benefit of current efforts at restoring lasting peace and harmony to communities. In line with the above aim, the specific objectives of this work would include:

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