Peace does not exist.
Throughout the ages humanity has sought after this ever elusive ideal. Many claim to have found it and many more continue in their pursuit. Irony abounds as over the years countless lives have been lost in wars for peace. Therefore, I would like to pose a question. Is the concept of peace, in its purest form an attainable goal?
As any good writer/speechmaker knows, it is essential to have an Oxford Dictionary definition of the term in question. However there will be none of that today. I say this because when we as individuals and as a society make moves towards peace, it is not based on a dictionary meaning that we have researched but an ideal that we deem necessary; a state of affairs that ought to be. So I much prefer to draw on the definitions we hold in our hearts. Although we will not hold to one particular articulation, I believe that we can all agree that peace is a lot more than merely the absence of war and is regarded by many as an undisturbed state of calm.
“I think you’re confusing peace with quiet.” It is nothing short of humorous that a maniacal robot with artificial intelligence would make such a profound observation. When Ultron spoke these words, they were not for aesthetic pleasure but addressed the thinking of the majority of society. How many of us believe that where there are no bombs being dropped or constant bloodshed that peace exists? How often do we look to violent extremities as the only antagonists to a tranquil world? I believe that it is this mindset that in a large part prevents us from truly attaining the goal. It is only when we pinpoint the undertones of corruption, racial tension, and gross immorality rather than only the overt acts of chaos and destruction that we can work towards this Utopia.
Allow me to go a step further to demonstrate the danger of settling for what is but a shadow of this well sought virtue. Slavery and the African slave trade was a thriving industry in the Caribbean for hundreds of years. Let us imagine that for this time of slavery there are no revolts or rebellions. The slaves do as they are told and except for the occasional misdemeanour, promptly followed by the requisite punishment, plantation life is quite uneventful. There is complete subjugation and the racial hierarchy is closely adhered to. There may be a whipping here and there and a coloured woman may be raped now and then but generally all is calm and everyone is relatively content.
A society such as this one, applying the aforementioned misconception may well be considered as one where peace thrives. But is such a position at all tenable? For though there is no excessive crime, or overt tension, men have lost their humanity. The norm has been corrupted. Simply because there is no anarchy or blatant dissatisfaction with the status quo, does not automatically mean that the state of affairs is an acceptable and ultimately, a peaceful one.
I beg your indulgence for one more analogy to bring this point to light. After World War II we experienced what was known as ‘The Cold War’ between the US and the USSR. There had been tension between these two superpowers during the war, hinged mainly on ideological variances, and strangely enough this tension was not eased by them being allies at the end of World War II. Immediately after the war, the distrust between these States continued to fester and grow leading to an arms race of epic proportions and a number of scattered yet related incidents as both parties contended with one another. What is most notable about this war is that the two sides never engaged in physical combat. There was constant activity, though neither State would openly confront the other. Could this then be considered a peaceful war? Does such a thing even exist? Though there were no casualties as in the great war that went before, the levels of anxiety and the mental turmoil it created painted a rather uncomfortable and unwholesome picture.
Now I would like to ask you, does this picture not look a bit familiar? Arms races here and there; subjugated societies and peoples; covert promotions of ideologies; is this not an image of our world today? Even the most tranquil and unbothered of societies are affected by these tensions, which, outside of the wars in the Middle East or the recent spate of terrorist activities, grasp much of our attention today. This is an indicator that many of the ideals and values which were once pursued by individual nation States may only truly be attained as a global village, as now everything affects everyone. It is also an indicator that what we have traditionally viewed as peaceful, even our current state of being has been a farce.
So when I say that peace does not exist, I do not mean that it is entirely impossible to achieve, but rather that the contemporary state of mankind makes the concept an illusory one. Currently there are cold wars being fought all over the world, many of which are civil wars. Some are even being fought in our schools, churches and families. The danger is that it is often canvassed by a false sense of tranquillity.
For peace to reign we must first understand that she is not evidenced solely by the deeds of man. Her being goes much deeper than that, even to trying the souls of men who must then work harmoniously to whatever end she wills. Peace is not a tool created for us to whimsically throw around in an effort to gain popularity and support. For some she is seen as a virtue cruelly fashioned by the gods that they may make sport of our attempts to grasp at her. For me, peace does not exist, but much like a foetus slowly growing in the womb, she soon will be.