Use of Moral Influence to Combat Divisiveness

(This is a current extract from the Patterns of Power Repository.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition02/4473.htm)

Group influence (4.3.2) is a potent force for driving people’s behaviour in the Moral Dimension and, although it can be used to divisive effect (, it can also be used positively – to encourage people to behave acceptably.  Peer-group pressure can help to prevent divisive behaviour if people speak out against behaviour which is not socially acceptable. 

Moderate religious leaders can use their influence in defusing ethnic tension.  If charismatic leaders make themselves heard with a constructive message they can provide a counterbalance to those who are trying to inflame tensions; they can help to resolve apparent contradictions (4.4.4) rather than try to exploit them.

Although the law and government can contribute by creating a propitious framework, as will be discussed in the next two chapters, personal behaviour is the most powerful way of ensuring peaceful coexistence. 

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