catalyst n. a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction
catalyze v.t. to change by catalysis
The single most powerful justification for skepticism about the possibility of ending wars is a virtually unbroken history of battle after battle. Men who have tried to end this barbaric practice in the past have been thwarted by their own biology. Human males, like many other male primates, are instinctively motivated by a drive for status or dominance. The male social world is saturated with behaviors driven by status seeking. Men jostle with each other daily, if not hourly, to gain as much status as they can and to avoid losing the status they have. Men are not opposed to shaking up or even overturning the social order: changing the social order is what much of their social lives is all about (see Biological Differences between Men and Women With Respect to Aggression and Social Stability).
Women's biology is quite different in some critical respects regarding aggression and status which are related to child bearing (links to Empower Women and Biological Differences Between Men and Women With Respect to Aggression and Social Stability).1 Women prefer a socially stable environment. This is as innate in women as striving for status is innate in men.
It's not that women don't understand power or don't have dominance hierarchies. They do. In an ultimate sense, power is important for women because of their need to acquire resources for their children. But a critical difference is that, in general, social stability is more important to them than power. If given power, women tend to use it differently than men and women's priorities can sometimes be different. Rather than engaging in power struggles to improve their dominance over other individuals, women are, in general, more interested in creating conditions, such as a socially stable environment, in which to raise children. As a consequence, rather than engage in upheaval or conquest to gain status, women use more subtle means to attain power. To resolve conflicts, they prefer means like mediation, compromise, negotiation, and other forms of win/win conflict resolution.1,2,3,4 And as a group compared to men, they are extremely reluctant to engage in war.1
We need to embrace and deploy women's innate, unlearned, evolved, unchangeable proclivity to avoid war.
Our secret ingredient—the essential catalyst for triggering, hastening, and maintaining change to a warless society—is the global empowerment of women.5
When women occupy roughly half* of the seats of power in legislative bodies entrusted to make decisions about war and peace—whether to fight or to compromise, to contain or to conquer—men's innate urges for physically aggressive confrontation will be tempered (see Empower Women). What will not work is token female representation—placing a few women here and there in responsible positions. This will not tip the balance against the majority of men who are too ready to be drawn into physical struggles for domination (see Promote Nonviolent Conflict Resolution). Only when women have a roughly 50/50 partnership* with men in fully mature, liberal democracies** (see Spread Democracy) will the world permanently take its fingers off the trigger. At present (2005), none of the world's democracies, let alone oligarchies or tyrannies, have reached that fully mature point. Our most influential powers (the United States, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Russia), continue to be patriarchal light-years from male/female parity.
Human behavior, however, is profoundly flexible. If we choose, those light-years can be spanned in merely decades (see How Long It Will Take). When fully empowered, educated women are involved in decision-making around the globe, the notion of following a charismatic leader into a program of conquest or terrorism will be unthinkable if not ludicrous.
The female preference for choosing social stability over conflict has a second, critical benefit. Not only can it serve as catalyst that kicks off and energizes swift movement toward a warless society, it will also serve as a stabilizer that makes certain we maintain the goal once we reach it (see Empower Women).
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