Search for Peace!

THE SEARCH FOR PEACE

ABSTRACT

Peace is something everyone wants to have. The search for peaces is as old as the history of the human race but in the present times the yearning for peace has become more intense. But can we really hope for Peace in our conflict ridden world? The Essay here gives you some way out in our march for ‘The Search for Peace’. Peace is not just the absence of war or the presence of equality and justice in the society. Today, signs and symbols come in the way of humanity to convey message of Peace. They have become agents for transformation. There are people who come out oftheir way, risk themselves, and choose the hard roads to make the world a better place. They are “Peace Makers and Peace Builders”. Institutions like The United Nation have fought hard to ensure International peace and security. We marvel their contribution. Nothing is impossible if we so really desire and will. Likewise Peace is definitely achievable even though it looks impossible. Every day the message of Peace, Lovers of peace and a Thought of Peace comes in our way yet we fail to realize what they are and what they bring into our lives. It seems to me that while aiming for the moon alone, we have missed the stars. As we start our journey together in “The Search for Peace”, I wish each reader a greeting of good tidings “Shalom”. Let this be my first step in “The Search for Peace”.

THE SEARCH FOR PEACE

“Make Peace the News: Peace is possible if we choose to make Peace something that matters for all people, in all times and all spaces of the world. Together, let us choose Peace for our world”.

                                                                                                         Mattie J.T.Stepanek

Introduction

Human beings desire Peace from the very depths of his being. But Humans are frequently ignorant of the nature of the benefit for which he or she intensely aspires, and the path he or she follows in order to obtain it are not always the ways of every human beings. Much more than other centuries the intense search of true Peace has been intensified in the 21st century. It is undeniable thathumans yearnfor peace. But we live in a world which is marked by hatred, violence, terror and war. Can we really hope for peace amidst this chaotic and painful situation?  And are humancapable of fostering peace at this era of the human history? In spite of knowing all these, Human beings continue to live in indescribablesuffering, degradation, poverty, social injustice and dehumanization. The result of all these can be seen in one form or another in every part of the world, obstructing peace and harmony. We can be sure that Peace begets Peace, a peace which does not differentiate itself from the demands of Justice but oughtto be fostered by personal sacrifice and love. Peace can never be bought neither can it be sold. It can only be won through mutual inter relation and rebuilding of broken relationship.

We live in a world in which there are major inequities within societies and among societies. It is also a world whose future is greatly threatened by many problems. Solutions to the problems may require expert help but implementations of the solutions involve us all. Do we want nature to take its course, a path that is often extremely harsh, or will the world’s population and leadership be willing and able to take the major courageous steps required to preserve the earth and generate a more equitable and human future?[1]

What is Peace?

Peace has often been understood as the absence of war and conflict. Peace means also the creative elimination of the causes of Conflict and Violence and promotion of humandignitythrough selfless love, agape. Peace requires love within a person, love among human beings, love for nature and love for God, ultimate source of love and peace.[2] If we speak of Peace in a personal way and humane way, it would mean the relief of stress and the release of anxiety. It also would mean the absence of fear and a feeling of being forgiven and also being in harmony with nature. When we speak of Peace in a spiritual way, it would mean, following the Divine will, or believing in the Almighty’s power and protection over my life. When we speak of Peace from a societal point, it would mean having an open and cordial relationship with our neighbor. It also can mean living in a diverse society where everyone is equal before the law.[3] And when we speak of Peace form a political perspective, it would mean stable laws and order, establishing democracy throughout the world and above all the absence of the threat of nuclear war. Let me echo once again in the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India: “Peace is not a relationship of Nations. It is acondition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people”.

Symbols of Peace

Symbols play a significant role to the illiterate group of the society. As we say ‘seeing is believing’. So also peace has been expressednot only in words but also through signs or symbols. Symbols of Peace are expressed through color, plants, animals, signs, South Asian symbols and The United Nation Emblem.[4]

The color Blue and White symbolizes peace. Blue is cited as the color of peace as it symbolize color of the sky while White is commonly cited as a symbol of Peace- because it hides nothing, it is seen as symbolizing purity, innocence and truth. As white flag, in battle was a symbol of truce, peace and goodwill.[5] The Olive Branch, a plant symbol has for thousands of years been used as a sign of Peace and good will. This may partly be due to the fact that in early civilization it took decades to bear fruits for harvest, and it was held that anyone who planted olive groves must be expecting a long and peaceful life and must be looking to posterity. In Ancient Greece, the Olive wreath or crown was also given to winners at theAncient Olympic Games. The Animal symbols Dove is also a universal symbol of peace and innocence. The peace sign or victory salute is made by holding the index and middle finger in the shape of a V. The signwas widely used by Americans Peace Movement in the 1960’s and 70’s as a symbol of victory for Peace and truth.[6] The well knownBan the Bomb symbol was designed in 1958 for the campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). The Rainbow has also come to be seen as a symbol of Peace. The South Asian Symbol of Peace, the Abhaya Mudra symbolizes protection, Peace and the dispelling of Fear.[7] In Hinduism the Lotus flower is a symbol of all that is true, good and beautiful, representing good fortune, peace and enlightenment. But today in this modern era the United Nations emblem stand tall depicting International peace and security. And to the world the United Nation has become an agentof Peace.

Why Search for peace?

The world we live in today is never the same as few centuries ago. Today many of us get up, not sure of what is going to happen to our life. Hailing form a conflict torn area of North East India, I have heard and seen people thinking of the fear of death any day, anytime and at anywhere. They must have felt that each step they take and each moment they live, itself can be their last. The world at large and our society in particular is ablaze with the spirit of fear, doubt, anxiety and anger. At this juncture, the world must search for peace and cry out to humanity the need for reconciliation, dialogue and contract in the pursuit for peace. “Yesterday” is gone but “Today” is in our hand to make a better future for “Tomorrow”.

The 20th century was the bloodiest, costliest century of warfare in human history. Two world wars, a large number of major revolutions, along with significant social, political and economic upheavals made the period from 1901 to 2000 of great importance in a historical and military sense.[8] Some of the major wars are: 1st World War (1914-18), Spanish Civil War (1936-39), Sino- Japanese War (1937-45), 2nd World War (1939-45), Indo-China War1946-54), Korean War (150-53), Vietnam War (1959-75), Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), Gulf War (1990) and Yugoslavian Civil war (1991-95).[9] And the worst fear isthat 21st century is destined for unthinkable war which can erase humanity from the surface of the earth. Instances in this century after the year 2000 are like in the year 2001, when The World Trade Centre (WTC) was destroyed, the world feared that 3rd World War was at its doorway but things came to normalcy for good. In 2003, when the American invaded Iraq there was also a possibility of war from the Middle East countries but it did not happen. The uprisings of Egypt, Gaza, Somalia and tension of South Korea and North Korea also almost took the form of war in their own regions. But in the recent past the immense rise of China as a super power and its advancement in Military, Technology and Invention is seen as a major threat to other super power especially to European powers. We can never doubt the there still exist cold war between different super power nations.

We are searching for peace in an era of illusion- the illusion that platitude and slogans are a substitute for strength and planning- the illusion that personal good will is a substitute for hard, carefully prepared bargaining on concrete issue- the illusion that good intentions and pious principles are a substitute for strong creative leadership.[10] A sensible citizen is a must who have a vision of “Peace Building” at this era of illusion and crisis. Peace makers are admired and hail by the world today. They have won the hearts and set an example for other person to follow in their footsteps. There is no doubt that in the pursuit for peace as a peace maker one has to take risk and risk to the extend even at the cost of their lives.

Peace Makers Today

Peace Makers are admired by the world. The fact that there is a Nobel Peace Prize reserved for peace every year is itself an evidence of this. Joseph Cardinal Bernadine- himself a great peace maker once said, people of our contemporary world love peace but very few dare to be peace Makers. This is because to be apeace maker, we have to pay a price, just as theprophets paid a price for what they said and did.[11] M.K.Gandhi, apostle of Non Violence and Father of Indian Independence said “We must be the Change we wish to see in the world”. We always have the feeling that it is the duty of another person or organization or religious leader who are supposed to be the agent of Peace and create peaceful environment for living. Hardly, have we realize that “I am” the first agent of Peace. Never had we known that peace comes from “within” us. Without inner peace it is impossible to have peace in the world. It is an inner gift and self realization. “Peace within the individual” is the basis of peace in the world among individuals, nations and religions. If there is no peace within individuals there cannot be peace in the world. This truth is dawning upon thinking people in a very profound way all over the world today.[12]

Today, peace makers are hailed as champions. People who choose peace as their way of life, radiates it to the world are an asset to the world. They are priceless gift to humanity. On October 10, the Nobel Peace Prize 2014 was shared by two eminent personalities. MalalaYousafzai, a Pakistani girl who advocate the right of girl education in Islamic countries, free from discrimination and fear. The prize was jointly shared with Indian Children right activist KailashSatyarthi, who has built a global movement against child labor and rescued thousand so children form exploitativelabor and trafficking. He was an unsung and unheard hero to the worldand even in India too. Yet the world acknowledges him now for his service. The United Nation two year ago has also declare August 10 as “Malala day” to show to the world the courage and strength she possess to be an agent of peace. If we so really desire to bring about peace, age need not be a barrier. It is the courage and action that matters.Both the Nobel laureates have come from a conflict, war and violence torn country of India and Pakistan, yet it is a message to the world that still in these places too peace lovers and peace makers do live.

John Lennon, Musician, the founder of ‘The Beatles’ once said, “All we are saying is give peace a chance”. Today we all raise our voice together under the banner of humanityand say “Give Peace a Chance” and “We Choose Peace”. In the past we have seen and heard of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Muriel Lester, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II, both political and religious leaders in their life time have given their full for ensuring peace in the world. Their names and peace are synonymous and are like the two sides of the same coin. They are legends of peace.Today, we also have living icon who are still working enormously for ensuring peace in their nations and around the world. Leaders like Aung San SuwKyi of Burma, Dalai Lama of Tibet, Archbishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa, Kofi Annan of Ghana, former United Nation Secretary General and Pope Francis head of the Roman Catholic Church and so many have been working tirelessly as Peace builders in this broken world. They are mending the broken pieces, to bring about peace in the world.At this juncture let me quote the words of His holiness Dalai Lama:

“It is essential to know that to be a happy person, a happy family, a happy society, it is very crucial to have a good heart. World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just the absence of violence but the manifestation of human compassion. Without inner peace, it is impossible to have World Peace”.

The United Nation Role in Peace Building

“Since wars begin in the mind of men, it is the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”

(Constitution of UNESCO, 1945)

The horrid experiences of the World wars, the catastrophe, which befell a great part of humanity, and the calamities, which occurred, had roused the awareness in saner brains to the creation of an institution, which would prevent the scourge of the wars. The consequences, which emanated from their thought, took shape in the formation of a new International Organization, the United Nation, as an association of peace-loving nations, directed against the potential aggressors.[13] In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco to draw up the UN Charter. The Organization officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the charter was signed by member nation. One of the main aim of the United Nation as set forth in the charter is to “Maintain International Peace and Security”. The Universal declaration of Human Right is among the most important document. The United Nation emblem was approved on 7 December, 1946 and today the emblem carry the message of peace with Olive branches surrounding the map.[14]

The United Nation has played remarkable role in bringing peace in disputed nations. The United Nation Peace Keeping Force (UNPKF) ought to be applauded in such type of missions. This are some of the list of successful UN peace keeping mission since the UN was founded in 1945, organized by region, with the dates of development, the name of the related and the name of the UN operation.

In Africa:

·         1960-1964: UN operation in the Congo (UNOUC) – Congo Crisis.

·         1992-1993: UN operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) – Somalia Civil War.

·         2005-2011: UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) – Second Sudanese Civil War.

In Americas:

·         1991-1995: UN observer mission in El Salvador (UNUSAL) – El Salvador Civil War.

·         1993-1996: UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) – Coup and Military Rule in Haiti.

In Asia:

·         1965-1966: UN India-Pak Observation Mission (UNIPOM) – Indo-Pakistani war of 1965

·         2006-2012: UN Integrated mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)- 2006 East Timor Crisis.

In Europe:

·         1992-1995: UN Protection Force (UNIPOM)- Yugoslav war.

·         1993-2009: UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) – Abkazian war

·         1996-2002: UN Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) – Prevlaka Territorial dispute.

In Africa:

·         1958: UN Observation Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL) – Lebanon Crisis of 1958.

·         1991-2003: UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) – Gulf War

·         2012: UN Supervision Mission in Syria(UNSMIS) – Syrian Civil War.[15]

The UN as an organization has done remarkable achievement in bringing about world peace. Yet it has home works to do in order to bring about change in our world. Chinese proverb says “If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation,If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world”.

Is Peace Achievable and Possible Today?

Today every thinking person feels an intense yearning for harmony and peace in every corner of the globe. The world is threatened by various forms of violence such as nuclear war, chemical and biological warfare, Terrorism etc. Recent world events have created tremendous anxiety, fear and unrest in the midst of turmoil.[16] Peace cannot be obtained on earth unless the welfare of man is safeguarded and people freely and trustingly share with one another the riches of their minds and talents. A firm determination to respect the dignity of other man and other peoples along with the deliberate practice of fraternal love are absolutely necessary for the achievement of peace. Accordingly, Peace is also the fruit of love for it goes beyond what Justice can ensure.[17]

To achieve Peace, we need firstly forget our differences and work for our common interests. Without changing one’s self, without peace in one’s self world peace is not possible. Though we have different appearances, different dresses, different colors etc. we are all the same. Inside different people is the same brain, the same mind and the same emotions. We all experience compassion, a sense of concern for others, and a sense of community. The onenessof the whole world, and the oneness of humanity is important. This alone can bring about Peace and Harmony.[18]

Jesus Christ is a perfect model for Peace. He is hailed as the “Prince of Peace”. His birth brought good tidings of great joy and peace into the world. His birth changed the history of humanity and with that a new era of human history developed, a future of hope and peace. Developing a “Just Peace” culture and rejecting the “Just war” justification for violence, and teaching peace and non violence as part of the gospel message is a remedy and a step forward to International peace. We should also work to abolish the growing International arm trade in the world.[19] We must never doubt the great power of nonviolence, which is the power of love in action. But we must also remember that with great power comes great responsibility. We, men and women throughout our world, have a responsibility to unite and raise our voices against the forces of war, violence, injustice and abuse of human and civil liberties. I believe that all of us must carry in our hearts a vision of peace that remains clear through times of spiraling violence and political uncertainty. A hundred years from now, I would like my great grandchildren to enjoy a world in which each government is democratically elected and is able to fulfill its people’s basic needs. Every country will remain at peace with both its neighbors and its internal oppositions, and will use the tools of economics and science to the benefit of its citizens.[20]

Conclusion

The human family is at a cross road. We mustchoose between violence and non violence, death and life, despair and hope. Let us choose hope and have the wisdom to put our common humanity above everything that divides us. We can build a non violent world together, we are not afraid.[21]It is true we aspire, pray and work for peace but until and unless foundations of peace are rested on very strong urge, desire, active participation and struggle for justice, there is no way to bring about peace in the world. The American Catholic Bishops said in their Pastoral letter, The Harvest of Justice is sown in Peace (1994): that Peace-making is not the vocation of a chosen few, but every human being is called to be a peace maker. Mother Teresa once said “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other”.

Building Peace is a continuousprocess and we can never achieve it over night and can’t be achieved once and for all. Peace is like a chain when it is broken somewhere it affects the entire humanity. Yes, Change we can! to bring about Peace but with a hard fought journey. The way the world is moving about it looks like Global Peace is unimaginable. But it doesn’t mean it is unachievable. We speak of peace in International Conferences, seminars and bang every corner in search of Peace, but we do fail to realize that peace lies “within” every one of us. What the world did not succeed is that we fail to “share”. Let every person vow to oneself and to the entire humanity that I will be a channel of Peace and that determination itself can be the first step in our march for peace. Let me conclude my essay with the words of Madame Curie, a Nobel Laureate in Physic and Chemistry:

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must and, at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity…”


Bro. Joseph Thohrii
2nd Yr. Theology



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