Categorizing the elements of a dispute

(An excerpt of Volume I)

Categorizing the elements of a dispute

The next thing you need to understand about the PeaceMatrix™, is that while our problems are infinite because the human experience is infinite, we can organize the essence of the elements that cause conflicts, and then improve that refinement process infinitely.

A fundamental theory behind the PeaceMatrix™ is that human conflicts’ elements are not infinite and infinitely diverse, but categorizable. Within these categories of human dispute elements, are hidden the DNA of the dispute. In other words, a dispute with infinite problems and places to look for solutions is turned into a much more narrowed and fixed set of questions; questions and understandings about differing definitions, who a party is, the morals of one’s own party, the cultures involved, differing wants, limited resources, varying political interests, and communications challenges.

With the ability to diagram a dispute and categorize its elements, the infinite becomes finite. For example, the current American political divide of unlimited complexity, which our best minds have been unable to solve, can instead, with a diagram, be limited to:

– a fixed set of questions about ideologies,

– a fixed set of moral questions,

– a fixed set of legal questions,

– a fixed set of questions about goals, and,

– a fixed set of questions about communication challenges.

The PeaceMatrix™ then processes, develops, narrows, or “breaks down” those questions from extremely broad to increased specificity until solutions arise. We find the roots of the problem in each of these categories by asking increasingly better questions. Then, we use the same model to organize ideas and potential solutions using PeaceMatrix™ Solution Chains.

Diagramming and categorization of the elements of a dispute allows us to focus our energies in the proper direction. And when so many of our disputes have the same elements, the long-term process will improve our science of understanding these elements. Categories allow us to organize our thoughts and channel them at the same time. They give us coordinates in an otherwise infinite dispute. It is the proverbial fixed point to stand on, which Archemedes the Greek mathematician, 287 B.C. – 212 B.C. referred to when he said, “Give me a fixed point to stand on, and I shall move the world”. Because otherwise, the dispute is endless, in a directionless cosmic void between infinite numbers of human beings, each with an infinite mind, in a universe of infinite problems and possibilities. So, if the categories and breakdown process encapsulate and continually narrow the universe of possible solutions, they eventually must approach real solutions.


We are arguing over the wrong things

Henry David Thoreau said, “There are 1000 hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

Being a very logical kid, I always tried to understand why people are as they are, obviously not logical. I also quickly learned that people argue for all kinds of stupid reasons. I was fascinated at how intelligent people got into arguments that were completely illogical, and did not like being proven wrong. There is a wise ancient Chinese saying, “correct a fool and he will hate you, but correct a wise man and he will appreciate you.” Perhaps the wise man is one who is not on an illogical, emotional escapade.

Imagine if every time we reach an impasse, we assume we are arguing over the wrong issue, and instead of butting heads, we look for a way around it, and are guided to divert our energy to another possible path forward.

People argue over the wrong issues; the emotional and inflammatory ones, or the politically-motivated ones, or the click-baiting ones, or the trending ones. They often don’t argue over the points they need to be discussing to solve the problem. We cannot focus purely on the inflammatory aspects of the problems, the antagonistic, attention-grabbing issues rich with emotion. They actually take attention away from the quiet paths toward constructive cooperation and peace.

Millions of us are each having similar, similarly separate, similarly shallow, similarly unconstructive discussions. Imagine we had a map to guide us to the most constructive issues.

Philosophers may say that being a peaceful person and getting involved in the biggest conflicts seems counterproductive to one’s spirit. But the Bible says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the sons of God” Matthew 5:9. And if Jesus was alive today, I presume many would expect him to speak to his enemies. So maybe this is a way of all of us having more meaning, pursuing development of our own souls, through a challenge to further our values and bring peace, and make the world better.

Do you know what your unique calling is? Maybe we’ll yet find it in the PeaceMatrix™.


Winning over whataboutism

Our modern discourse is largely arguing about the wrong issues. We’re using the wrong language. We have the wrong context. Or at least lack the right context. Highlighting daily inflammatory incidents or emotionalized micro events does not bring us closer to the cause of a conflict. Nor can the solution be found there. People are often not discussing the underlying causal problems. Emotional triggers prevent seeing a problem correctly.

You’ve had these conversations. One person brings up something outrageous that a politician or party did today. The other person completely sidesteps the point and responds with something else another politician did wrong last year. One person tries to talk about a leader’s specific qualities, and someone responds with a definitional question. Someone tries to explain an ideology, and someone else responds back with a legal argument. Then someone responds to the legal argument with a moral perspective. And just when someone finally tries to identify a positive goal to work towards, someone else shoots that down with ad hominem because of something that happened in history that offends their ability to cooperate with you. How are you supposed to get anywhere?

The PeaceMatrix™ allows people to constructively focus on a subject and minimize “whataboutism” – the regressive art of switching topics, and thus keep focus on the chain, branch, and node of the discussion.

So, if you’re talking about history, let’s discuss history. If you’re talking about definitions, let’s discuss definitions. If we’re comparing cultures or ideologies, let’s stay on that topic. PeaceMatrix™ categories allow everyone to know which particular topic of the broader dispute they are addressing to maintain a constructive perspective. You can switch categories of course, if everyone is aware the switch, and knows exactly where they are on the map.

Something magical happens when you categorize. You are no longer descending down the spiral void to trying to prove the other person’s ignorance or evil to them or resorting to ad hominem attacks. These never work. Instead, you are working towards something more constructive.

Thus, the discussion and analysis are forced in a certain direction, down a topic funnel, towards the open-ended goal of together solving the presented question, and ultimately the Starting Question. The key Starting Question categories are perfectly broad, and perfectly narrow. They are the locations in the universe of human interaction where the human conflict experience happens.

As their scope narrows with subsequent level questions derived from the former, parties stay on topic, channeling developments, ideas, and eventually solutions.

The 26 PeaceMatrix™ categories are the areas that need to be synchronize for peace, and that you can’t have peace without.

Examples of the 26 PeaceMatrix™ categories include:

  1. Definitions and parties” What is the best understanding of the terminology for peace?

To see and understand each others’ definitions of key terms in a dispute greatly enhances peace.

For example:

What is the best understanding of the key definitional terms for peace?

What is the best understanding of who the parties are for peace?

What is the best definition of democracy for peace?

What is the best definition of fascism for peace?

What is the best definition of Democrat/Republican for peace?

What is the best definition of aggression/defense for peace?

  1. History and Current Situation” What is the best understanding of the relevant history for peace?

To see each others’ perspectives of history, even if just to explain how and why you disagree, furthers full peace. Same with being able to see the current situation through the same facts.

For example:

What is the best understanding of the history of one side for peace?

What is the best understanding of the history of the other side for peace?

  1. Wants” What is the best understanding of what each side wants for peace?

To have peace, you must understand how each party sees their wants, and the other side’s.

For example:

What is the best understanding of the parties’ wants for peace?

What does your side think my side wants?

What does my side think my side wants?

What are all the different wants of your side?

What are all the different wants of my side?

What is most important about the political dynamics behind those wants?

How can we align the compatible wants on both sides?

  1. Ideologies” What is the best understanding of the parties’ cultures for peace?

To have peace, you must understand your ideologies, as well as the other Parties’ ideologies.

For example:

What is the best understanding of the parties’ ideologies for peace?

What is the best understanding of one side’s culture for peace?

What is the best understanding of the other side’s culture for peace?

  1. Moral perspectives” What is the best understanding of the parties’ subjective moral perspectives for peace?

To have peace, you must understand your moral perspectives, as well as the other Parties’ moral perspectives.

For example:

What is the best understanding of the parties’ subjective moralities for peace?

Why does Party A think X is the moral result?

Why does Party B think Y is the moral result?

What elements of the parties’ moral perspectives can be aligned to build a new moral framework acceptable to both?

  1. Leadership” What is the best understanding of the party’s leadership for peace?

To have peace, you must understand your leadership, as well as the other Parties’ leaderships.

  1. Why not resolve” In whose interest is it that the conflict continue?
  1. Past successes” What has been tried before and elsewhere?
  1. Solution chain” What are all the possible solution ideas and scenarios?

And so on…There is a much more comprehensive list with sample sub-questions in Appendix A.

The PeaceMatrix™ takes the problem, and potential solutions, from being anywhere in the infinite cosmic universe, and narrows them to 26 categories, and then down to the DNA until solutions present themselves.

If we could successfully work out the key problems in these 26 key areas; the ideological differences, definitional differences, subjective moral perspectives, authorities in power, differences between what the parties want (also versus their own leadership), their human natures, their brain chemistries, the communication challenges, etc., …then you would solve the conflict. 100%. Guaranteed. Definitely. There’s no other place a conflict element can reside than these 26 categories. There’s no other place a solution can hide.

In other words, there is no single Chain for the “cause” of the conflict, because the cause is already in these other chains. Always. Every conflict. If we develop the Starting Categories properly.

If you can find the best questions to answer these questions…then you’ll find the solution(s) to the conflict. And the more you develop them, the more involvement and detail in those solutions.

While these broad categories sound basic, they are different than how society currently approaches a topic, and thus “meta”, intending to combine all models and analysis under one umbrella.

The system is about being bigger than any one person’s brainpower. I can ask 100 experts how to address a conflict and they will all give me their analysis from their viewpoint and background. Each purport to explain to every other expert why their frame of reference is the correct one.

The PeaceMatrix™ answers the question, “How can we get intellectuals of every field to be able to work together, without any of their field’s limitations dominating and limiting the analysis?

It’s a mechanical way to harness and channel mass intellect towards an organized set of increasingly specific goals.

People are experts in psychology, biology, philosophy, science, business, technology, diplomacy, law, anthropology, history, communications, etc. The Starting Question categories combine all fields of study, for the specific goals and tasks of figuring out our peace problems’ elements; the definitions, wants, cultural obstacles, communication challenges, etc. And every category’s goal is… “for peace”, so we know what we are aiming for.

The PeaceMatrix™ is not just interdisciplinary in applying solutions from different approaches and fields of expertise. It is extra-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary. It breaks down disciplinal boundaries and limitations,  and extracts and combines elements of every other field to create new goal-oriented fields of study for the PeaceMatrix™’s categories.

Best definitions for peace become the field of study. Best moral perspective becomes the field of study. Best cultural, best communication system…becomes the field of study.

By making the field of study the goal of the chain, and with the development process which maintains and narrows its focus, all fields of expertise are deployed and balanced in pursuit of the defined objectives.

Elon Musk said people do better when they know what the goal is and why. Every conversation on earth about any potential or actual conflict now can have one or more constructive categories, goals, and constructive questions to try to answer. This is far better than just having the goals of the separate parties having the conversation; like winning, looking smart, proving the other person wrong, getting the candidate elected, etc.


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