Each day we have the choice to make of whether or not we are going to act peacefully. This is the personal struggle every single person has to indulge in. Furthermore it is the single most important struggle in the global pursuit for peace.
Usually Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is put into the conversation at this stage, which I rarely discuss. The reason is that I understand the hierarchy is more of a point of focus than a progression or level of being. For example, if a person was truly committed to the spirituality there is no need for all the others. If a person is completely focused on security, all the others are there to serve that need. In that method of thought there is no hierarchy only a point of focus. For me the main focus is the personal mindset or spirituality.
Throughout my career I have rarely met anyone that does not believe they are working to improve life for those they care about. That reality alone has always perplexed my mind when you see people use violence. Often I am left with the single question of “How do you think acts of violence will change anything?”
It is an easy argument to say that violent acts push a person to change the mind. World War Two is often made example of. However, the reality is that Nazism still exists as does the many ideologies which fuelled that war. Furthermore there is a strong argument which states that World War Two is still taking place in Palestine, Israel, India, Pakistan and other areas. In addition we have to ask, Have nuclear weapons stopped wars – No. Has the millions of guns stopped war – No. Has the threat of bombing stopped war – No. Has the death of millions stopped war – No. The only thing that has stopped war is the change in people’s minds that violence is no longer a useful option.
The reality of war is always present in the minds of each individual. The acts of the individual are what give thought life. In that light we act globally as individuals through legislation such as the recent agreement to control conventional and light weaponry. This is a major piece of legislation which is an example of changing mindsets. Such agreements to ban child soldiers, cluster bombs, and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons focus on the physical elements of war. The only way we can change the mental elements of war is through education. Expanding our mindset of peace into the quagmire of security, health, politics and economics is the task of the day. How do we transition from the violent chaos of war to peaceful chaos of civility?
Education, discussion and having an open mind are the foundations for peace. In every conflict there is a need to seek out those that are newly introduced to the conflict. These people are often the ones with the ability to see a different future. Those that have been embroiled in the conflict are usually blinded by biased thought. For example, democracy has been held up as the saviour of society. However many of the governments that practice democracy have been involved in violent conflicts. Also there have been many a crisis develop in democratic countries that shook the world, the recent economic recession is one such example. We can also point to the recent Iraq war as an example of democratic failure. As we look for a method to have discussions, I am thinking we need to invent a different method because democracy has run its course.
What we are left with is a group of tired people using an untrusted method of conflict resolution. The result is Syria, Bahrain, Mexico, non-functioning United Nations Security Council and legislation with very little impact. The pursuit for global peace is quickly loosing grip because individuals are lazy in thought, quick to act violently and see no other options. To curtail the fall of peace we must seek out those that are new to the discussion, seek out those that are open to new methods, seek out those that understand violence is an act of frustration used by those who have little hope and finally we must seek to be at peace within ourselves.