What does peace have to do with editing or PEG?

I’ve been a member of PEG for seven years and have always enjoyed learning about many things. Because I strive to live a peaceful life, I was instantly interested in a free online short course advertised on Facebook by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The course comprised five modules and gave me new insight into the world. The most important lesson I learnt from it – truth streamlines peace into all aspects of life, whether in societal behaviour, economics or any other sphere that makes a country, organisation or family a whole. I reflected upon how to use this new lesson in my life. Then the thought of PEG as an organisation entered my mind.

Institute for Economics and Peace

The concept ‘peace organisation’ stems from a theory of sociologist Johan Galtung and is based on Ghandi’s vision of Satyagraha (the firm search for truth for peacefulness). Kenneth Boulding used this to develop a systems theory to measure the level of peace in countries. This led to Steve Kelika’s development of the Institute for Economics and Peace and the Global Peace Index (GPI).

Negative peace and positive peace

According to the GPI, which captures research findings and statistics from 163 countries (99,7% of the world’s population), there are two types of peace: negative peace (the absence of conflict) and positive peace (a stable state of peacefulness). These findings showed no constant reasons for some countries being more peaceful than others, even though findings proved that, for example, religion and terrorism did not, as commonly believed, have an impact on the level of peace. In New Zealand, ranked within the top ten peaceful countries, and in Afghanistan, ranked within the ten least peaceful countries, the same level of atheism was observed.

Eight pillars of peace

After holistic and empirical studies, Boulding constructed a system that identifies eight pillars of peace in any type of system:

  • Well-functioning governance
  • Sound business index (gross domestic product)
  • Low levels of corruption
  • High levels of human capital
  • Free flow of information
  • Good relations with neighbours
  • Equitable distribution of resources
  • Acceptance of rights of others

A system based on these pillars functions as a whole and is self-regulating. It is maintained through inputs and outputs, and any deviation or change will be integrated to maintain homeostasis or balance. It is self-modifying and searches for a new pattern, which it incorporates to maintain the peacefulness in the system. In relation to PEG, there are several portfolios or systems and Exco encourages all types of input from members which are, in most cases, acted upon to streamline the day-to-day running and to keep the values of the group intact.

Post-pandemic findings on peace

A study of post-pandemic recovery done by the World Trade Organisation supported GPI findings. The countries with low levels of debt, low levels of unemployment and a low level of tax burden recovered better than countries with high levels of debt, unemployment, and tax burdens. One can adapt this system to a micro-system, such as a family or organisation, to ensure a stable and peaceful environment.

Is PEG an organisation of peace?

As a member of PEG and now with the understanding from this course, I incorporated the pillars of peace into the running of the Guild as part of my rumination on my learning. Here are my thoughts:

Regarding the governance of PEG:  In the past, decisions were made without member involvement. Although this has shifted slightly in recent years, the consequences of those top-down decisions are still playing out in what is expected of members, for instance, for CPD or accreditation. Members feel confused and are worried about the changes, and their input could have made it a more satisfactory experience. The financial statements are shared with members transparently, which rules out corruption. The levels of intellectual or administrative human capital are as high as the members’ responses to offer their time and skill voluntarily. There is a free flow of information from PEG to its members, but I have witnessed psychological barriers (members who lack the confidence to take part in discussions as a group, or respond to one another privately). PEG seems to have sound relationships with other organisations (neighbours). I cannot comment on the equitable distribution of all the Guild’s resources, but a step-by-step guide on how or which members can market their businesses to the membership and the rules that guide this would be useful. PEG is committed overtly to diversity and inclusion and holds members accountable to a code of conduct that supports the rights of all members.

A final assessment

In my opinion, any organisation could strive for a peaceful environment with these eight pillars of peace. In an organisation such as PEG, referring to these pillars of peace as tools to guide the running of the organisation could maintain membership stability and membership growth. Since most of these pillars of peace are used to manage our organisation, one could consider it a stable group. I plan to remain a lifelong member, because it is one of the best learning and supportive environments for a wordsmith, like myself.


Feature picture: Freepik/vecstock

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of PEG.

About Bernadette Kiewiet

Bernadette Kiewiet matriculated in November 1979, and completed certificate courses in Bookkeeping, Creative Writing and Copy-editing/Proofreading at UCT-Getsmarter. She continuously does free online classes, which include a Google Marketing certificate course. She is an associate member of the Professional Editors Guild, member of the National South African Writers Association and the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors Association of South Africa.

Her published works are Life’s Soiled Red Earth (March 2023) and The Crash (September 2019), a short story selected for the Write My City Anthology. In addition, two of her short stories were selected by Reedsy.com. She is currently writing the sequel to Life’s Soiled Red Earth, entitled Beyond Bitter Waters, and is attempting to add more to the eight short stories she has completed over the past few years, with a view to an anthology.

Currently, she markets her latest book at public venues and on social media, but makes time for her family duties, Kundalini yoga sessions and gardening.

About PEG

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) is a non-profit company (NPC) in South Africa. Since moving to online activities in March 2020, PEG has been able to offer members across South Africa, and internationally, access to an extensive online webinar programme. Continuing professional development remains a key offering and the first PEG Accreditation Test was administered in August 2020 to benchmark excellence in the field of editing.