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Why peace is such a wide word

Overview

Published: 06/18/2012

by Jim Campbell

The CDs the kids are playing in the house are loud. The beeps from the computer games are annoying. “Can I have a little peace in here?” By such words many parents plead for a respite from the noise, for a little bit of quiet.

Peace, when you think about it, is a precious commodity. How nice it is to find it at the lake in the summer – to be “at peace with ourselves” or to have “peace of mind.” Peace comes after a conflict is resolved. Sadly for many, to have peace means guns and bombs will cease. Peace is a wide word that covers a lot of concepts and conditions.

With the “War on Terrorism” in full flight, it is important to think about peace.

From what one can gather from the veterans of the two world wars, peace – for those who served at the front of the conflicts – meant survival, a release from constant tension, and a time of unbelievable silence. Peace was enough; talk of winners
and losers would come much later.

Peace is mostly defined not by what is but by what is not happening: the noise ends, the conflict is resolved, tension and stress go away, guns are silent, the terror and tumult end. So peace is, basically, the absence of things – a negative state of
existence.

And that’s the problem. Those who live in North America had that sort of peace.

Many pundits have been telling us that we were naive to sit back and enjoy the peaceful times we had. Making that claim is the first step along an argument that ends in making us guilty for the acts of terrorism, an argument that implies that the absence of conflict doesn’t always mean peace.

Few generations have spent much time, wealth or effort in waging peace; it’s nothing like the amount dedicated by enjoying the peace, we set to waging wars. That’s why it’s ourselves up for trouble. Thus time to change the game plan.
some say the attacks were jus-We have reason to be a littified.

tle optimistic. Many people The only response worthy and organizations have been of such a notion is, “Gimme a working, some for over 50 break.” We don’t think about years, at building peace on or handle peace differently the earth. International charifrom any other people on this table organizations and UN earth. We are not abnormally agencies, often under-funded weird, selfish or self-centred. and uncertain of the way ahead, have moved beyond emergencies and disasters to help many people to live at peace – through better education, medical systems, roads, drinking water and economic opportunities. By trial and error they learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’re better at war. Yet, some of the accomplishments, like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, are brilliant steps forward.

Every country has its war or defence departments, which plan strategies and use public wealth to ensure “the peace of the
realm.” What we need for the future are peace departments, which plan strategies to foster peace on the earth.

Is that a utopian dream? Not at all. Sooner or later it will happen. The future demands it. When? How? Who? I’ll leave
you to figure that one out. People are people wherever they live. And, all over the world, people understand peace mostly as a passive state, as the absence of conflict and of war.

Have no doubt, to be done with destruction, with killing and persecution, and to be done with the anger and the shouting, are
blessings not to be discounted. Our Canadian army, involved in peacekeeping all over the world, has shown
amazing skill in separating warring factions and creating spaces where peace can take hold. The spaces are important, because a lot of people need time to heal their wounds, to plant their crops, to build and rebuild, to enjoy each day and have the
opportunity to dance, sing and laugh.

Peace is great; we need more of it. That might sound like a silly point to make. But it isn’t. All who live at peace in our world
need to find ways to grow peace. Through history, the ending of a war usually meant that peace was the result. But in these days of economic interdependence, population growth and the globalization of everything. 

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