May 20, 2010, 5:24 AM |

Wired for War or Poised for Peace?

How we situate images of war affects how our brains wire to support or reject it. Replace words such as war on terror with expressions that grow stronger communities, and our brains shift from expectations of violence to proposals for peace across differences. Imagine a place of prosperity where no brain is left behind, and you have the plan.

Peaceful interventions rarely follow rhetoric for battles, and often come in brain based bits. Why suffer through our country’s growing addiction to this fix-it-with-violence trend, when the brain brings its own equipment for peaceful solutions?  War’s opposite to holding out a mental olive branch, yet some insist peace is mere fantasy and myth, while bullies often benefit.

Others though say peace a natural escape from our broken world. I say it not only rewires brains,  but can block communication for unity. What do you say?

Here are a few facts about war and peace as they germinate in the human brain:

1. Visuals matter: Images of violence or caring change your brain’s plasticity to engage in more. Have you noticed that violent responses are far more popular than highly intelligent peace plans to heal our nation?  Recent research shows that repeated media violence diminishes the brain’s response for solutions.

2. Nations can change mentally: It’s possible to rewire our collective brains, as Ireland’s leaders discovered when they made a conscious decision to increase the country’s prosperity through peaceful means. It took a radical risk for leaders to promote peace in exchange for violence that Irish people had grown accustomed to. What would it take in our nation?

3. Enemy or amity zaps morale: Increasingly people claim to dislike their workplaces, and indication is everywhere that people see more cortisol hormones being spread at work, than serotonin or the mental chemicals for well being. The National Institute of Mental Health reported well over 58 million people suffer from anxiety disorders.  Have you noticed growing anxiety in your circles?

4. Brains are hardwired for challenge: The mind can adapt to peaceful plans past differences through actions that engage opposing views on controversial topics. People who learn the art and science of disagreement tend to ask, “What if…?” and engage tools such as brainstorming, listening, admitting mistakes, trying out other people’s ideas, and evaluating alternative solutions that remove guns from the equation. Act vulnerably or compassionately and serotonin becomes the brain’s fuel to find common ground together.

5. Flame wars create stress: Harmful chemicals such as cortisol surge with flame wars where people fail to step back and consider value from an opposing view.  Good tone, on the other  hand, enables people to communicate understanding and prosperity across differences. Consider the wide mix of intelligences that benefit groups who create a peaceful climate to challenge  high-impact minds.

Since human brains rewire for war or peace depending on what we do daily – how might you and your circle reflect peace that trumps battle plans of the past?

Your turn….