The “controversial issue” of hope was at the forefront of West Point graduate and Iraq War Veteran Paul Chappell’s discussion on why world peace is not only possible, but realistic.
Chappell addressed students and community members in his talk “Why World Peace is Possible” on Monday, Sept. 12 in Bayley Auditorium. The event was co-sponsored by the political science, religion, and psychology departments, as well as the Wittenberg Student Peace Alliance and the Faculty Endowment Fund Board.
Chappell engaged audiences and highlighted his main points by inviting attendees to step into the past. He facilitated role playing to demonstrate paradigm shifts found throughout history, asking the audience to imagine they were women in the 1800s fighting for suffrage, and several other examples.
“He overall cited concrete examples of how society has become more equal and fair over time,” said Arek Barkaszi, junior environmental science and sociology major.
The idea that women can’t vote or that humans would hold slaves seems preposterous now, according to Chappell. In the future, he stated, the concept of war will seem just as absurd.
“Have you ever wondered why you think the way you think or why you believe what you believe?” Chappell asked.
Chappell stated that the paradigm shift will come when humans come to accept that the basic needs of humans are not physical needs, but the need to have purpose, meaning, self-worth and a sense of belonging.
“How do you offer people a sense of purpose and meaning?” Chappell asked the audience. “From a global perspective, how do we find that common sense of purpose?”
According to Chappell, this common sense of purpose can be established through conveying respect by listening to others with empathy, not only to their words, but to their humanity. Chappell stated that the majority of conflict in the world is caused by people feeling disrespected. When humans learn to respect one another, his goal of world peace will be met.
“In all of human history,” Chappell stated, “there has never been an instance reported of a human becoming traumatized by receiving or inflicting an act of kindness.”
According to Chappell, kindness is human nature, not violence or war. If humans act according to their nature, Chappell believes the world will be at peace.
While Chappell’s talk was aimed to bring hope by providing solutions which would lead to world peace, some students such as senior sociology and business major Laura Jansing left feeling uncertain.
Jansing reflected Chappell’s opening statement that hope is controversial: “He said that we would we feel more hopeful after the speech, and I’m not sure I did,” Jansing said. “I believe that world peace is realistic, however, he didn’t give very many solutions to make it a reality, besides everyone being more understanding.”
Barkazsi echoed her thoughts of uncertainty. Stating that, while he felt that world peace was realistic, the time frame proposed by Chappel was not.
“I don’t think it is possible in the time frame he proposed, due to human’s inability to change mass ideology that quickly,” he stated.