Communicating Peace and Social Justice through Families Worldwide
Jerome, Norge W., The World and I
Norge W. Jerome is professor emerita of preventive medicine University of Kansas School of Medicine. As founder of the Committee (now Council) of Nutritional Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association in the early seventies, Jerome launched numerous cross-cultural studies on hunger and malnutrition.
Ruth Sivard begins the 1996 edition of her renowned World Military and Social Expenditures Report, by proclaiming that the twentieth century already stands out as "the most productive and destructive century on record." She continues: "No other [century] comes close to it in terms of social progress in the education, health, and wealth it has provided for the population. Yet it is also evident that no other century on record equals the twentieth in uncivilized civil violence, in the number of confiicts waged, the hordes of refugees created, the millions of people killed in wars, and the vast expenditures in 'defense.' There have been six times as many deaths in the twentieth century as in the nineteenth!"1
The above scenario paints a troubling picture of the "defense" expenditures and carnage hosted by the twentieth century, while leaving no assurance of fewer war casualties in the twenty-first century. Will the statistics change for the better in the twenty-first century? What factors are likely to induce change? If, as the UNESCO Constitution2 states, "that since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed," is it possible to use modern communications strategies to achieve the defenses of peace? Is it also possible to enlist families--society's building blocks and socializing units--to utilize the modern media, another powerful socializing force, to transmit and communicate world peace and social justice as family values?
This article explores and examines possibilities for world peace using the family and the modern media as focal points. It recognizes the pivotal roles families play in communicating values during the socialization process. The article also acknowledges the far-reaching implications of the media and the decisive roles information and communications play in creating the conditions for peace, disarmament, human dignity and justice. It postulates that since families and the modern media play similar roles in the socialization process, great benefits can be achieved for world peace and social justice through conscious efforts to combine these resources. The article is not concerned with communications technology. Instead, it is concerned with the processes and probable outcomes of communicating via the modern media for world peace.
Influences on family communication
Cultural beliefs and customs are shared primarily through the family communication environment. According to Austin et al,3 parents directly affect children's opinions about matters "close to home" such as topics on which the family would be a logical and frequent source of information. In addition, direct parental influence tends to be greater for issues that are salient, highly visible or concrete and thus more likely to be discussed by the family.4 By contrast, the impact of family on abstract and distant opinions such as abstract political issues is indirect and is achieved through the interpretation process rather than on the specific content. Discussions on world peace and advocacy for peace and social justice fall in the realm of indirect influence thus requiring interpretation as part of the communication process. For example, discussions of world peace and social justice require expansive dialogue and concrete examples for effective communication.
The socialization process is influenced by the interaction of media sources and intrafamilial communication patterns.5 Mediation also contributes to the socialization process. Other contributions are communication between principals such as between a parent and a child about endorsement and/or condemnations of media content that can help the individual interpret the content. …