Is Peace the Absence of War?

n-a Smriti Joshi , 12th August,2020

“Everybody wants peace. That's a truism. There is no point in accomplishing through war what you can accomplish through peace.” 

There is no doubt that peace has always ranked as the highest value among humankind. But there were struggles and wars from the time of the evolution. Darwin even claimed that there was a continual ‘struggle for existence’ in nature where only the fittest would survive. Even animals must compete for food and territory. But then we are just humans, and we long for more than we have, and we are hardwired to avoid losses. After all, we live in edges of uncertainty where losing means threatening our existence. What is far more striking is we often hesitate to change the circumstances for betterment.

We resist the change because our freedom is repeatedly restricted by impersonal forces where we become powerless. We failed to change the tide of events. We have no say on deeply entrenched prejudice in our society where a Dalit is killed mercilessly, we could not stop the political violence against peaceful student demonstrators who fought for corruption and structural transformation of the country and we stood helplessly looking at sixteen years old lad who suffered and died in the isolation ward. We have desensitized ourselves and we stopped listening to changes and we tuned ourselves to be indifferent.

While we lament about continuous present trouble, our leaders are practicing despotic leadership, abusing power to suppress the dissent, to fulfill their insatiable appetite for power and authority. The volatile and unaccountable government has triggered insensitivity and new conflicts among the citizens of Nepal. Thus, it is not the dispute that has caused the war, but the major injustice and fences that have been built around us, has caused the internal war. If these layers of mistrust, anger, and tension are not appropriately addressed among the citizens thinking that peace will prevail with oppression can be a great misnomer.

Creating a culture of peace encompasses the transformation of war to peace through individual behavior and institutional practices. As Buddhism rightly preaches that true peace does not lie solely in the peace of our world but in all worlds. On the contrary, in our society, peace for us means attaining tranquility in one’s own house but not caring about whether the same luxury prevails in our neighbor’s house. Such an act of thinking solely at a very granular level and not showing empathy for others can lead to superficial peace which is built on foundations that is so weak that it is bound to explode at any given point of time.

For peace to prevail, we should understand the root cause of conflict and never give up our struggle and conscience to address the issue. Whether injustice exists within the boundary of our so-called lives or beyond it, we should have the courage to minimize the tragedy by stroking the social and political divisiveness to address intolerance, marginalization, and inequality that has created disequilibrium in our society. Showing responsibility and accountability where needed and raising our voices for the greater good is the small price that we have to pay to ensure a stable equilibrium of peace but are willing to pay the price as the song by Megadeth goes “Peace sells… but who’s buying?

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