Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Spirituality of Finnish peacekeepers

Timo Ryhänen

Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology, Department of Practical Theology.

The previous academic research on Finnish peacekeeping has clarified the operative and historical aspects of Finnish peacekeeping lacking the view of an individual who does the actual peacekeeping work. This research is based on the underlying theoretical assumption of human beings possessing different kinds of talents and intelligences creating a holistic entity. In this broad perspective spirituality was explored as an umbrella concept, as a holistic ability or talent, that can be explored as the deepest aspect of defining what it means to be human.

The theoretical framework incorporated the concept of an intelligence, which is defined in Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences as the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings (Gardner, 1993, x). The viability of this theory was studied in the sample of Finnish peacekeepers.

Spirituality in the theoretical and conceptual horizon was viewed as an extension of Gardner's theory of intelligences as one potential Gardnerian intelligence candidate. In addition to Gardner's theory, spirituality was explored as sensitivity which includes capacities such as sensing awareness, sensing mystery and sensing value (Hay, 1998). Also the practical aspects of spirituality were taken in account as shown in our everyday lives giving us the direction and influencing our social responsibilities and concerns (Bradford, 1995). Spirituality was explored also involving the element of the peacekeepers' community, the element of personal moral orientations and in the domain of religion and coping.

The purpose of this research aimed in two dimensions. First, the aim was to outline the intelligence profile and the spiritual sensitivity profile of peacekeepers. Second, the aim was to understand qualitatively the nature of peacekeepers' spirituality

The research interests were studied with different kinds of peacekeepers. Applying the mixed methods approach the research was conducted in two phases: first the former SFOR peacekeepers (N=6) were interviewed and the data was analysed. Inspired by the primary findings of these interviews, the data for the case-study of one peacekeeper was collected in co-operation with one former SFOR peacekeeper (N=1). In the second phase the data was collected from KFOR peacekeepers through the quantitative MI-Survey and the spiritual sensitivity survey (N=195).

The quantitative method was used to outline the intelligence profile and the spiritual sensitivity profile of peacekeepers (N=195). In the mixed methods approach this method highlighted the general overview of intelligence traits and spiritual sensitivity of peacekeepers. In the mixed methods approach the qualitative method including interviews (N=6) and a case-study of one peacekeeper (N=1) increased subjective, qualitative information of spirituality of peacekeepers.

The intelligence profile of peacekeepers highlighted the bodily-kinesthetic and interpersonal dimensions as the practical and social aspects of peacekeepers. Strong inter-item dependencies in the intrapersonal intelligence profile meant that peacekeepers possess a self-reflection and self-knowledge component and they reflect on deep psychological and philosophical issues.

Regarding the spiritual sensitivity, peacekeepers found awareness-sensing, mystery-sensing, value-sensing and community-sensing important. The community-sensing emphasised a strong will to advance peace and to help people who are in need: things that are close to the heart of the peacekeepers. These results depicted practicality, being socially capable, and reflecting one's inner world as essential to peacekeepers. Moreover, spirituality as peacekeepers' moral endeavour became clearer because the sub-model of their community-sensing described morally charged destinations: advancing peace and helping people in need.

In the qualitative findings peacekeepers articulated justice orientation and rule-following characterising the nature of peacekeepers' moral attitude and moral call (Kohlberg, 1969). An ethic of care (Gilligan, 1982) describes mainly female moral orientation, but the findings revealed that an ethic of care is also an important agent supporting strongly male peacekeepers in their aim to carry out qualitatively good peacekeeping work. The moral endeavour was voiced, when the role of religion in coping meant the assessment of the a way of life, a way of conduct, a way of being truthful to one's own values in confusing surroundings. The practical level of spiritual and religious contemplation was voiced as morally charged inner motivation to fulfil one's duties and at the same time to cope with various peacekeeping challenges.

The results of different data sets were combined and interpreted as the moral endeavour, which characterises peacekeepers' spirituality. As the combining result, the perspective of peacekeepers' spirituality is considered moral or at least morally charged.

The title page of the publication

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Last updated 16.10.2006

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