Peace In Our
Shall we begin this
Parish Council meeting? asked Hillary Davis,
Chair of the Council.
Heads nodded around the
First of all,
Hillary began, I would like to introduce
two special guests who have joined us today. The
first is Mr Ban Ki-moon who you will all
doubtless recognise from the media. Mr Ki-moon is,
of course, Secretary-General of the United
Nations. She turned towards him. I
would like to welcome you, Mr Ki-moon, on behalf
of the Parish Council of Little Middleington,
here in the English county of Southshire.
Ban Ki-moon smiled and
nodded his head in recognition of the greeting.
Mr Ki-moon has
brought a colleague with him, Hillary
continued. I understand that for security
reasons, we must refer to his associate as Mr
Smith. Hillary looked at the second man.
Welcome to you too, Mr Smith.
Mr Smith nodded in response.
I would now like to
invite Mr Ki-moon, said Hillary, gesturing
towards the Secretary-General, to explain
the circumstances of their visit.
Thank you for your
welcome, Mrs Davis, said Ban Ki-moon,
graciously, and thank you all for allowing
us to visit your charming village of Little
The reason we are
here follows from an innovative, new approach
that the UN wishes to implement in the promotion
of world peace. As you know, one of the goals of
the UN is to try to avoid, or resolve,
Negotiation and other
political means have led us to a fair measure of
success since our organisation was formed after
World War II to replace the League of Nations.
You have only to inspect the daily news, however,
to note that very many serious conflicts continue
throughout the world, despite our best efforts.
In an attempt to
better understand and address this situation, the
UN undertook research to identify the common
characteristics of conflict zones and also the
common characteristic of areas in which conflict
was at a minimum. Our overall aim is to replace
the cultures and lifestyles that foster conflict,
with cultures and lifestyles that do not.
He paused to note any reaction to his words.
Can you tell us more
about the UN findings? Hillary Davis asked.
Several factors were
identified that corresponded to major unrest,
Ban Ki-moon responded: Political and
economic systems that had developed from tribal
roots were found to be problematic because they
resulted in discrimination or oppression of
members of the non-ruling tribes. In the absence
of a fair, universally respected system, nepotism
becomes rife, corruption becomes
institutionalised and unrest among the
disadvantaged becomes inevitable. It is generally
impossible for people to change from one tribal
grouping to another, and so it is very hard for
such systems to peacefully evolve.
economic systems based on religious principles
appeared, at first glance, to be more promising,
as religions generally have a positive underlying
moral code, and it is generally possible for
people to covert to join the most favourable
group. These systems mostly break down, however,
due to those in power simply following their own
culturally driven prejudices and personal self-interest.
Rulers in such systems also tend to attribute
their own bigotry to God, so leading them to be
even more extreme in their responses to any
Ban Ki-moon paused and
gestured towards Mr Smith. For security
reasons the real identity of Mr Smith must remain
secret, but he is with me as a representative of
a typical warring faction in a conflict zone.
It is my job,
said Mr Smith in a heavy foreign accent, to
compare alternative socio-political frameworks
and consider if they could be implemented to
bring peace to regions such as my own.
This brings me to why
we are here, said Ban Ki-moon. It
appears that middle-class areas of rural,
southern English villages have some of the lowest
known incidences of violent conflict. Little
Middleington has been chosen by the UN as a
typical such example and one on which we hope to
remodel conflict zones.
For that reason,
said Mr Smith, I would like to discover
more about how you achieve your results here in
Little Middleington. For example, he
continued, during our drive into your
village, I noticed that there were no bullet
holes in any of the buildings. Do you not have
any disputes with neighboring villages?
We were a bit put out,
said Harry Roberts, Chair of the village
horticultural society, when Waterford won
the Village in Bloom competition. Our hanging
baskets were a lot better than theirs, and we had
a magnificent display of bedding plants on the
Why did you not plant
a bomb in Waterford? asked Mr Smith, with a
puzzled expression on his face.
I dont think
that would have been considered very good form,
said Harry Bowler. I play for the village
cricket team, and we were due to have a match
against Waterford on the following week. If
wed have blown up their village then there
might have been some pretty harsh words said over
the after-match tea.
Mr Smith looked thoughtful.
There is also no evidence of armed police
or militia, he said. How do you maintain
Theres not that
much trouble here, said Mavis Peters.
I caught some lads taking apples from the
orchard last week, but thats the first
incident I can remember for a while.
observed Mr Smith. That would be a
dishonour to their families. Did their relatives
have them flogged and then disown them?
replied Mavis. Kids will be kids,
after all. Mind you, I gave them a piece of my
mind. They wont do that again in a hurry.
Some of the ideas
from the village have already been trialled in
the Middle-East, interrupted Ban Ki-moon.
A chain of garden centres has been opened
in one conflict zone, and it has already been
noticed that violence significantly decreases on
Sunday afternoons when everyone goes to the
centres for a look round and a cup of tea. Tea
shop owners, of course, have received training in
how to make a proper cup of tea
including warming the pot and putting the milk
first into the cup.
That regime also
gained considerably more popular support,
added Mr Smith, when the ruler provided
everyone with two-for-the-price-of-one vouchers
for cream teas.
Those around the table
nodded, immediately grasping the effect such
moves would have in taking armed gangs off the
However, there are
many things about your village life that I do not
understand, admitted Mr Smith. For
example, religion has been shown to be one of the
factors in generating unrest, and yet your Church
is one of the cornerstones of village life.
Were Church of
England, though, explained Janice Hopkins.
Thats not like a real
I do not understand,
said Mr Smith.
Well, we decorate the
church with flowers and so forth for festivals,
and we organise coffee mornings and bring-and-buy
sales, Janice listed. We also arrange
the village fete and do our little bits of
charity work. We dont do too much thinking
about God, though, she concluded.
Thats the vicars job.
Mr Smith nodded as he
further took in aspects of this alien culture.
What other village
ideas are being tried in conflict zones?
Hillary Davis asked Ban Ki-moon.
We have been trying
to encourage people to have dogs as pets and take
them for walks, rather than just shooting or
eating them, or both, Ban Ki-moon replied.
Success with that project has been limited,
however. I think we may be missing something.
How far do they have
to walk with their dogs to the pubs? Harry
What pubs? Ban
I think that may be
your problem, Harry suggested. Dog
walking wont take off unless there are pubs
to walk to. Thats the whole reason for
having a dog: Whether you want to have a pint on
a sunny day, or just want to get away from your
partner for a bit, a dog is always there to give
you a guilt free excuse to go out.
Ban Ki-moon removed a
notebook from his pocket and wrote in it.
Thank you, Mr Roberts, he said.
Youll need some
English brewers too, added Sam Harris,
landlord of the Dog and Duck. Ive
never understood why foreigners are totally
incapable of brewing a decent pint, he
continued, but the fact is they cant,
so if you are going to build pubs in your war
zones then youre going to have to have
proper real ale to put in them.
Ban Ki-moon removed the
notebook once more from his pocket and added a
further entry. The pubs with real ale can
certainly be added to the list of essential
buildings, he said, together with the
fish and chip shops; Chinese restaurants; Indian
restaurants and DIY superstores. I hope there is
not more opposition to them being built, he
Do some people object
to building developments, then? questioned
areas have already wholeheartedly adopted the
southern English, rural middle-class lifestyle
and so have formed NIMBY groups that routinely
object to any new proposal.
People are resistant
to change, added Mr Smith. Many ideas
have to be introduced gradually. For example, we
have recently instigated branches of the
Womens Institute in my country to maintain
supplies of cakes and jams for fetes and charity
sales. For the moment, however, we thought it
might be too controversial for them to start
expressing political opinions on everything, like
they do here.
It crossed Harrys
mind that Little Middleington WI, as chaired by
his wife, could benefit from that policy, but he
thought it prudent not to comment. However, he
wondered how easily this new UN policy could be
implemented in every location. I can see
how this all works in principle, he said,
but arent some people going to resist
the abandonment of cultures that may have
developed over hundreds of years?
concluded Mr Smith, I, my fellow countrymen
and millions throughout the world are tired of
violence and conflict. We just want to get on
with our lives in peace. None of us would choose
to emulate the southern English, rural middle-classes
but, if that is the price of peace, then that is
a price we will have to pay. I say, chaps,
he added, looking at his watch. Its
nearly four oclock. Isnt it about
time for afternoon tea?