Millennium Post
Opinion

Peace is the way

At a time when the world is marred by conflicts, rallying up for peace — at individual and institutional levels — has become urgent

Peace is the way
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People everywhere appear to be wearied with the way things are in the world today. Present-day society is experiencing a profound breakdown and the minds of people are in a state of utter confusion. From Black Sea to Korean peninsula to the Middle East to China Seas, and from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean, our planet is manifesting the signs of an "angry beast". There is so much of violence and destruction everywhere. Age-old institutions are collapsing, traditional ways are being forgotten. We are trapped within a matrix of our own creation, living in a world of anthropocentric fantasies and ignoring ecological realities. From polar vortex to la nina and el nino of the Pacific; earthquakes, floods, heatwaves, excessive rainfall and droughts — all are the evidence of Mother Earth's chastisement and fury!

Sadly, no real lessons have been learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic that the destinies of all who share the globe are intertwined. Let us be hopeful as we recently celebrated the International Day of Peace. Let all the member-states of the United Nations take stock of the planet and make fresh commitments to build peace. Humanity has the choice of reaching peace after unimaginable catastrophes or achieving it by an act of willingness. This would require "a complete reconceptualization of the relationships that sustain society. The deepening environmental crisis, driven by a system that condones the pillage of natural resources to satisfy an insatiable thirst for more, suggests how entirely inadequate is the present conception of humanity's relationship with nature; the deterioration of the home environment, with the accompanying rise in the systematic exploitation of women and children worldwide, makes clear how pervasive are the misbegotten notions that define relations within the family unit; the persistence of despotism, on the one hand, and the increasing disregard for authority, on the other, reveal how unsatisfactory to a maturing humanity is the current relationship between the individual and the institutions of society; the concentration of material wealth in the hands of a minority of the world's population gives an indication of how fundamentally ill-conceived are relationships among the many sectors of what is now an emerging global community."

Let us give peace a chance, let us project the peace within — birthright of every woman, man, youth and child — on to the world and facilitate the genuine participation of those traditionally excluded from conflict-resolution processes, whose voices are drowned by the din of war rhetoric and bomb explosions. Let us move away from old ways of exercising power and authority to new forms of collective leadership, where even the last person in the social hierarchy would have an effective voice, where there would be no room for racism, casteism, communalism, terrorism and everyone would strive to exemplify the true spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family); where the fruits of science and technology would complement the spiritual truths enshrined in the religious systems for the benefit of the whole world.

Nations that develop such an ethos will prove to be the pillars of a world civilization — a civilization which will be the logical culmination of humanity's society-building efforts over vast stretches of time and geography. Surely, every person has both the right and the responsibility to contribute to this historic and far-reaching, collective enterprise whose goal is nothing less than lasting peace, universal prosperity, and unity of humankind. In endorsement of such aspirations, let us reflect on the message of UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres: "Peace is a noble and necessary pursuit, and the only practical pathway to a better, fairer world for all people. Yet in too many places, in too many contexts, we are failing the cause of peace. The theme … 'End Racism. Build Peace,' reminds us of the many ways racism poisons people's hearts and minds and erodes the peace we all seek. Racism robs people of their rights and dignity. It inflames inequalities and mistrust….We should tear down structures that sustain racism, and lift up human rights movements everywhere. And we should drown out the vicious voices of hate speech with a united and sustained cry for truth, understanding and mutual respect. On this important day, a time to observe 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire, we renew our call for all people to do more than lay down their weapons. We call on them to re-affirm the bonds of solidarity we share as human beings and get down to the business of building a better, more peaceful world."

What are some other helpful measures that we might undertake to foster peaceful living? Let us become peacemakers, use peaceful language, speak softly and gently. Look for the good in others. If something they do hurts or annoys us, forgive them right away. Appreciate differences instead of making them a cause for prejudice or fighting. Affirmative actions could include a conscious effort to feel and stay peaceful regardless of one's circumstances. It means practicing calmness, being grateful, cultivating a habit of prayer and meditation, doing Yoga. Sending peaceful vibrations would mean facing your fears and letting them go away; feeling the power of love, practicing justice, trusting that peaceful solutions exist.

Avoiding junk food, alcohol and drugs, violent movies, and other vices, would strengthen our resolve for promoting peace. In an age where everyone, most of the times, have to fend for themselves and are consumed by self-interest, when social media and frivolous pursuits so easily sway the children and youth in the miasma of aggressive materialism, the parents and teachers have a tremendous responsibility of assisting these youngsters to channelize their energies for peaceful purposes. When grown-ups practice peacefulness, starting with peace in their homes and schools and workplaces, a profound change in society is inevitable. Peacefulness allows us to remain free of violence, free from prejudice and safe from injustice. When we are peaceful, all those who come in contact with us are loved, respected, and treated fairly. Differences are viewed as benefits rather than as a cause for conflict. The peace in our lives leads to peace in the world. Whenever a thought of hatred comes it would be overcome by a thought of love; when thoughts of war occur these would be overcome by stronger thoughts of peace. World peace is not simply the responsibility of governments. Every inhabitant on the planet has a responsibility. No one ever really wins a war; peace is the way!

The writer is a social worker and independent researcher based in New Delhi. Views expressed are personal

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