Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Essay on Peace – Not Merely the Absence of War, But the Presence of a Better Life

Peace – Not Merely the Absence of War, But the Presence of a Better Life

"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."
-Albert Einstein
History is a testimony of wars, and peace is still a dream yet to be achieved. Countries talk about world peace but they prepare for war by inventing newer weapons in the name of defense budget. World Wars have now subsided to give way to smaller ones which are still uglier. The world wars continued for years, however, these small wars may last for even longer.

Mankind or human race has been surviving on planet earth for over fifty thousand years or perhaps much longer and during this period, man's 'evolution' he still hasn't found peace. He's since been living in conflict, not only with his neighbor, community, family, society but with himself as well. He's been struggling and fighting against other men.

Humanity's concern for peace is apparent from the fact that around the world all religions and their scriptures and ceremonies preach the practice of peace and the need for elimination of war. The Hindus recite Shanti Path, Christians follow the verses of Bible and the sermons of Pope, Muslims follow the holy Quran and all other communities globally have a sacred commitment to peace. There have been many talks such as 'peace on earth' and goodwill among men; however, it has not truly come around.

It makes one question 'Why man kills another human being?' either in the name of god or religion or some ideology or maybe for their country. After living on this beautiful planet Earth since centuries now, why it is that man cannot live peacefully. For over two millenniums, the dominant paradigm of the most influential civilizations has been lead by the desire of possession or avariciousness, conquest, voracity, militarism, violence, inequality, injustice resulting in war.

It really makes us wonder, whether we as human beings, individuals or a family or a community can live peacefully with one another. There are many organizations working towards the goal of ‘world peace’ but they may never succeed as human beings are in conflict – individually, collectively and nationally. And these organizations cannot possibly bring peace, as each individual is different with a different set of beliefs, which no one is ready bend. Because a lot of people do not respect each other, it will require a great deal of strength to bring about peace in this world.

It was only after a disaster that he international community learned the prime importance of virtue of peace against the evil of war, when we suffered the cataclysm of most ill-fated and highly lethal two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Humanity bled a great deal with its pieces lying around hundreds of battle grounds, especially on the lands of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People cried only for peace; peace on earth

After the World War concluded, the military industrial complex began their work to achieve some outstanding technological breakthroughs. Across the globe, nations were engaged in a competition to produce the best technologies and people saw the inventions of man-portable missiles, spy satellites, and a plethora of other gadgets that are still used in today's combat operations. Even today, undesirable qualities such as distrust, greed and ego are apparent, leading to even more chances of unnecessary disasters. This is precisely why world peace plays an important role in maintaining a harmonious relationship among people.

Following the havoc caused by World War II, the United Nations was set up in 1945 with core mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. Since then, the UN has been tremendously working towards preventing and resolving conflict among member nations and thus creating peaceful conditions. The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security.

Pope Francis recently sent a message to Elaine Whyte Gomez, president of the UN Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, held at UN headquarters in New York on March 27-31, 2017. The Pope questioned the UN meeting on nuclear arms saying "How sustainable is stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples. Today's threats to global peace and security must be countered through dialogue and development, not nuclear weapons.

However, many nations, several of which already posses nuclear weapons boycotted the discussions for banning such weapons. The United States, France, The United Kingdom and approximately 40 other nations were included in this. However, some nations persisted on supporting the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapon technology.

One tool to assess the current peace scenario is the Global Peace Index (GPI). It is an attempt to measure the relative position of nations' and regions' peacefulness. It is used as a benchmark for global peace using three broad factors: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarization. Both internal and external factors are viewed. Internal factors such as levels of violence and crime within the country and external such as military expenditure and wars.

The 2017 GPI indicates Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, and Denmark to be the most peaceful countries and Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen to be the least peaceful. It also stated that the world slightly improved in peace last year but has become less peaceful over the last decade. There has been a decline in militarization over the past three decades and globally, the economic impact of violence on the economy is enormous.

Though findings from GPI look assuring, the ongoing wars across the world speak something else. The war in Syria continued for more than six years and has claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people. The fight for one person being in power has caused havoc and made millions escape from their home in search of a new home, a 'safe' place. The images from any major Syrian city in 2017 reflect the typical intensity of damage in modern warfare. Destruction is evident not only in private houses and businesses but crucial infrastructure including electricity, water supply, telecommunications, schools and health facilities, everything turned to rubble.

Another example of a country in dire need of peace is Africa. Africa is faced with rampant conflicts in some of its countries with consequent negative effects to the economic, political and social lives of their citizens and neighboring countries. A study by Africa action, an activism website for Africa, states “It is important to note that most of Africa is not at war. However, where conflicts do exist; they affect not only the stability of the countries involved, but also their neighbors and the entire sub-region".

Today we see a lot of people who have been uprooted in many parts of Africa. It has the highest population of refugees and orphans. Since decades, many people have not experienced normal life. During the seventies, regimes in Africa were seen promoting strife and conflict, creating massive upheavals in the life of the people, creating huge numbers of misplaced persons who are moving around with no place to go. And the infrastructure, because of this ongoing conflict in Africa, has destroyed many of the communities, destroyed our mission stations. Many of our economies in Africa are dysfunctional because of this ongoing regional conflict. Furthermore, the number of people living with AIDS has increased with no care provided by governments. The problem of AIDS has been so devastating that the potential labor force is being destroyed. So we face a crisis, a deep crisis, in many parts of Africa today.

Another static, long-distance trench war is ongoing in Europe along the 250 miles of front lines in eastern Ukraine with tanks, artillery, machine guns, snipers, land mines, and trenches gives a $ tremor down your spine. Ukrainian servicemen are fighting pro-Russian separatists in Avdiivka, F Donetsk region. Furthermore, the recent terror attacks of London Bridge; outside Ariana Grande - concert in Manchester, England; Saint Petersburg bombing and Champs Elysees attack in Paris, all highlight the importance of nations to work harmoniously and fight out terrorism to achieve global peace.

Thus, the popular thought that absence of war is peace is myopic and defective. It is similar to thinking that absence of disease is health. Health is a positive state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease, or infirmity. Similarly, peace is a positive state where exists social justice and brotherhood in an enabling environment and not merely absence of war.


Peace is the mother of progress. Without peace a nation cannot make any progress. So, peace is ever desirable. For all those who inhabit the earth, face this choice - whether peace is to be achieved only after the unimaginable happenings as a result of human's stubborn behavior or it is to be adopted now as an act of consultative will.

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