At the very most, major news organizations may have a short featurette at the end of their newscasts about today’s commemoration. The stories will probably tell about politicians saying all the nice things about peace. Maybe they will show images of children making posters about peace. Then, tomorrow or sooner, the nations get back to non-peaceful business.
In our civilization, people working towards a peaceful world are thought of as members of some sort of subculture, like hippies, who aren’t taken seriously. History has timelessly shown that when the drumbeats of war are sounded, the advocates of peace are ridiculed and pushed aside.
“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”–the 14th Dalai Lama
Today needs to be a red letter, official holiday like New Year’s Day. Today’s holiday could be a holiday not dulled by a hangover from the previous night’s festivities. It could be a time when we contemplate ways to live peacefully together, all the time. The resolutions would not just be peaceful nicey nice proclamations by parliamentary bodies that are quickly disregarded within hours.
Nelson Mandela once said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” This is not a new idea. Humanity has known about this wisdom since antiquity. Still, all we can accomplish is very temporary peace. If we keep doing the same things over and over expecting different results, what we’re doing is literally crazy. The world needs to try something different, much more effective, and sane.
We see the results of old fashioned thinking around us. Economic imbalance causes 15 million American kids to not have enough wholesome food. Multiply that number many times over to include the global totals. At the same time, there is a sizable minority that have such abundance that they feel entitled to waste. Fascists march through the streets with impunity in several nations ready to impose their vision of social order on us all. Religious fundamentalists and radicals of many types share physical and spiritual terror. The merchants of war have many, many customers.
We need to transform our lives to end the madness. We need a new culture that endures. We need to come up with a peaceful solution to ensure peace as soon as possible. The old paradigms simply do not work. We need to view conflict and peace from a different perspective.
A big part of the problem of peace is enforcement. Can international peace be enforced the way we enforce local, domestic peace? If an individual plots and commits mass murder, social institutions are in place to arrest, try, convict, and imprison the offender.
Here’s a thought experiment: Could we arrest, try, convict and sentence world leaders to life in prison when they plot officially sanctioned mass murder? We already do this in limited ways, to a select few “rogue” dictators and generals. Why not include all nations under this penalty? Why not really do it, not only in spirit? Is this a viable solution, or is it too unrealistic?
Is there a way to keep the peace without the various nations on Earth threatening each others’ safety, integrity, and security. Is there a better way of keeping the peace without the threat of war and/or mutual nuclear destruction?
Our presidents, premiers, parliamentarians, and other leaders don’t know. My friends and neighbors don’t know. I don’t know. Just because we don’t know, doesn’t mean we just throw up our hands and give up.
We need a completely new approach. The answers can only be found through much thought and compassion by and for our fellow sentient beings. Peace is a serious topic for thought and discussion that is initiated on days like today.
Have a meaningful International Day of Peace.