A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao Tzu (ancient Chinese philosopher)
DEEP took its first step at the end of 2014 in its mission to foster a peaceful and ecologically regenerative world. We are now a long way from our starting point. Journeying along this often bumpy and meandering road, peppered with potholes, has not been effortless, but it has been instructive, invigorating, and inspiring. Along the way many from around the world have joined us. Sharing the DEEP vision and values, they come with a diversity of skills and talents. Occasionally, I am asked why I coined the name DEEP for our network and were the words that made up the acronym randomly chosen. The words—Dialogue, Empathic Engagement and Peacebuilding—express what we do, foster, facilitate, promote, and advocate. It was, however, fortuitous that the word ‘deep’ resonated deeply with my philosophy and pedagogy. My ecology is inspired by Deep Ecology, among others including ecofeminism, political ecology, and peace ecology. In my teaching of introductory anthropology for twenty-five years at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, I implored students to begin with the premise that ‘Things are not what they seem’ to forge an anthropological imagination. To achieve a fuller and more accurate understanding of the world, I advised delving beneath the surface of social phenomena and engage in ‘deeper’ analyses. Also, the word ‘deep’ which means a small lamp or light in Sanskrit (and in several Indian languages) resonates with our quest to illuminate the darkness around us.
In 2014, after almost four decades as a university academic, I decided to dedicate my time and effort to setting up the DEEP Network, collaborating with several of my colleagues and former students. I served as the Director of the Centre for Dialogue (CfD) at La Trobe University for two years until its closure at the end of 2014. With Dr Michalis Michael (the former CfD Deputy Director), Dr Jennifer Murphy (a colleague at Universitat Jaume 1), Dr Elizabeth Chapman (a former doctoral student), we agreed to form DEEP, building on the fine work and accomplishments of the CfD. Dr Gloria Abarca hosted the first DEEP workshop in Mexico in October 2014. In almost no time the network expanded rapidly and now there are DEEP circles in 20 countries with many more in the process of formation.
For a good part of my life I have professed and philosophized in classrooms and at forums about the impact of structural violence. I have always been guided by Karl Marx’s Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it”. As an anthropologist, I studied the culture of the Malaysian Aborigines (Forest-dependent Indigenous peoples). From them, I learned to appreciate the nexus between ecological regeneration and peace, and the value of respect for fellow humans and nature. They taught me about generosity and reciprocity, about living within one’s means, and in short, about buen vivir (the philosophy and practice of good living as expounded by Indigenous communities in South America and elsewhere). Sadly, their lives have been wrecked by the juggernaut of capitalism, ushering in its wake structural violence, ecological degradation, discontentment, and despair.
DEEP believes that we have much to gain from the rich lessons from such communities in dealing with the myriad global problems, be it ecological degradation, violent conflict, racism, inequality, and alienation. We believe that peace is the norm in human life and the violence taking place in several parts of the world is an aberration. We also believe that conflict is a natural aspect of human interactions as people do not always see ‘eye to eye’ but we are committed to transforming potentially negative conflict before it spirals into an ‘eye for an eye’ violence. Most of all, we strive to build a nonviolent and ecologically regenerative world where people everywhere can live a good life (buen vivir) in peace.
We are an inclusive and collaborative network which relies solely on the generosity of its members and supporters in carrying out our diverse range of projects across the globe. We welcome new members who share our vision, aspirations, and values. If you wish to become a DEEP Network member, please type “Join DEEP” in the subject box on the contact form (click “Contact” above) and we shall email you an online form. If you wish to support us or make a donation, we would love to hear from you.
Dr Alberto Gomes
DEEP Global Director
[Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University & Adjunct Professor, Universitat Jaume 1, Spain]