Seven obstacles to peace

What stands in the way of peace? Here are seven obstacles. Actually there should be one more, let’s give it number zero.

0) “If you want peace, prepare for war” (Si vis pacem, para bellum, no less idiotic for being said in Latin). And if you want war, prepare for war (!?).

Seems we are always preparing for war. How on Earth is that going to give us peace? We get to eat the food we prepare, in the same way we get (often in the neck) the war we prepare for.

Now the seven obstacles.

1) We don’t know what peace is.

2) The word is empty, or negative, or filled with explosives.

3) We are blind to the seeds of war and inspiration to war all around us.

4) We don’t desire it enough.

5) We don’t really believe that peace is possible.

6) We think that we peace-lovers are a weak minority.

7) We turn to the wrong people for peace.

1) We don’t know what peace is.

Even a small child can tell you, in a simple, basic sense, what war is. Most everybody understands war.

Ask even intelligent grownups to define peace, and they will have problems. Can you define it?

If we don’t really know what peace means, how then can we work for it, find it, make it manifest?

2) The word is empty, or negative, or filled with explosives.

The word “peace” is either a nicely wrapped Christmas present that turns out to be empty, devoid of clear meaning.

Or it is mainly defined negatively, as absence. “We have peace when we don’t have war.” This could be logical if you live in a country at war, but not if you live in a country not at war.

Finally, some people talk about “balance of power” as an aspect of, or means to, peace. If every party has enough (same amount) nuclear weapons then we will have balance = peace.

Such weapon-based or war-based peace doesn’t sound particularly peaceful to us.

3) We are blind to the seeds of war and the inspiration to war all around us.

We think that only soldiers and politician are making war. At the same time we ourselves are busy doing microwar and protowar. How? Where? In our quarrels, debates (battere = hit, beat), discussions (dis= apart), war of words, “flame wars” on the Net. (All of these manifestations are a kind of ritualized “battles”.)

Mass media inspires us in this same direction, with all these competitions and contests based on elimination, reporting political debates as if they were boxing matches. Of course we see life and society as mainly a win-lose affair, however much we mouth the cliche of win-win.

4) We don’t desire it enough.

There are so many more interesting things than peace. Adventure movies, computer games, sports, Facebook, sex, hot gadgets and cool apps, Pokemon go…

Besides, it is quite logical NOT to give our energy to something that we don’t really grasp and cannot define. If peace at least had some of the excitement of sports, or politics, or even opera… But it seems to be a static, sterile phenomenon. Yes, sure, fine and high and lofty, but somehow still unable to catch our actual interest.

5) We don’t really believe that peace is possible.

Fatalism is major disease with mankind. Our scientists have not only dethroned God (and made themselves our new gods) but also informed us that we are “mere specks of dust in the Universe”. Hardly pep talk for taking our, and mankind’s, destiny into our hands.

The forces working in the opposite direction (war) seem overwhelmingly strong, our mass media constantly shows us examples of war (their logic is “good news is no news”), hordes of people around us say that voting is meaningless, “you cannot really change anything”.

Is it any wonder that one turns fatalist?

6) We think that we peace-lovers are a weak minority.

Actually we are a majority but the “hawks” and the winners of war (those who profit by it) are strong, well organized, well financed, and armed to the teeth. They project a scary image — and we let ourselves be scared.

Some like to say that man is evil, but behind war and strife stand only a small evil minority. Why don’t we send these guys and gals off to a small planet where they can act out their war games, without dragging the rest of humanity along with them?

However, for this we also need better citizens. Being a “voter” who votes every other year, maybe follows politics on TV and complains about political decisions that don’t please him is not enough. Enough to sustain status quo, and war, yes, but not enough for creating peace.

7) We turn to the wrong people for peace.

Peace work needs to be separated from politics. Peace is apolitical, utopian, win-win. Politics is win-lose, separatist, based on elimination.

Think about it. The repeatedly demonstrated talents of politicians and presidents is 1) rhetoric (including dishonesty and downright lying), 2) putting part-, party-, partisan interest (or just ego) above the common good, 3) more or less common corruption and even criminality, and 4) war (direct and indirect).

Hoping that somehow peace will flower from such a mold, such a questionable domain, is like entrusting a village of picturesque wooden houses to a pyromaniac. Wrong tool, wrong person for the job.

So who is right for it? A peace pilot, a Jedi of peace, someone who understands harmony, found in abundant measure in music.

(All this will be more fully explained in a later text. This is just a first sketch, but it is at least a step in a new, fresh direction.)


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