Imagine a world in which perpetual peace prevailed, a world where all of its residents understood the devastation war is capable of unleashing and felt it as a duty to pursue peace.
Peace is the most precious of all precious things, and yet the most difficult to achieve and maintain. It is so precious that, without it, every other blessing is of little value, so invaluable that it is rejoiced by the rich and the poor, the strong and the week, all equally alike.
But being the most precious of all, peace must have the strongest of enemies and the heaviest of challenges. It is always threatened by the choice of man to resort to hostility and war. Much of history tells us the man has always tried to kill each other, eliminate each other and wipe each other off the face of the earth. Given this, after each war, they always came to peace, though never lasting.
World War One and World War Two are but two examples of the utter destruction wars can bring on to humanity. After reaching a climax in development, man has to start all over again because of these two wars. Millions of lives were lost in them and billions of dollars worth of property was destroyed as a result.
However, the most tragic thing is not that nations made the wrong decision of going to war against each other. It is that they learned very few lessons, if at all any, from these wars. These nations are as divided and hostile to each other as before they went to war against each other.
Obstacles to Lasting Peace
Perpetual peace being the most precious thing to achieve requires the overcoming of the strongest of obstacles. Amongst all the obstacles, egoism constitutes the most significant. Nations always wage wars against each other because some of them think they are more superior to others and thus are more entitled to the resources of the world. The assertion called, “The Law of the Jungle”, where you kill or get killed made many of the world’s powerful countries erroneously believe that their development is contingent to the underdevelopment of the rest of the world. This so called ”law” may be true for animals but is impractical for human beings. And even if we accept man as an animal, then he is a different kind of an animal living in a different kind of a jungle.
Injustice is also another threat to peace. By the use of military might, more powerful countries subject less powerful countries to an unfair treatment. They allow the robbing of their land and resources. Because they are not left with much of a choice, smaller countries then resort to war and violence.
Yet another obstacle is the unwillingness of nations, especially powerful countries, to appreciate diversity in all maters. Powerful countries like to impose on others their religions and there ways of thinking. It was by this same mentality that the world’s strongest nation, USA, declared an unjust war against what it called “Muslim Terrorists”, alienating more then one billion Muslims who constitute the second largest faith in the world.
Last but not certainly the least, nuclearisation of the world’s nations is an ever increasing threat to lasting peace in the world. It is a tragedy that the thousands of lives lost in Hiroshima could not act as a strong enough remainder of the horrors of nuclear weapons, in that the humans abandoned nuclear weapons all together.
Opportunities for Peace
I must have painted so bleak a picture for the prospect of ever realizing a lasting peace in the world. None the less, peace never had more opportunities then those of the present time.
First and most importantly, increase in the education available to the world’s population allowed people to realize the value of peace. More then ever before, in almost every country, students are taught in history classes the prosperity peace can bring and the devastation wars can cause.
The changing of many of the nations previously ruled by autocratic regimes to democracies is also another promising sign. These democracies produced new leaders who are willing to lead the world not by the might of their military but by the strength of their conduct and respect to humanity.
Advances in science and technology promoted globalization which in turn promoted interaction between the nations of the world. By interacting, people learn more about each other. Dialogue is also possible when people interact. This can remove misunderstandings, thus making them more tolerant towards each other.
Finally, free media made people more aware of what is taking place in all the corners of the world. As a result it is more difficult for countries to commit oppressions elsewhere in a word where policies are directly set by the public. This would have been impossible only a few decades ago.
Peace is achievable but only after investing the hardest of endeavor possible. It will be a reality if man is willing to go out of his way and abandon egoism, injustice, greed and nuclearisation which for so long made the world an unsecure place to live in, and starts utilizing the opportunities made possible by today’s world of education, democracy, globalization and free media. If not, then, we have to expect another inevitable major war, terminating though this time round.
Abdirashid Ibrahim Yousuf,
PERPETUAL PEACE IN THE WOLD: CAN IT BE A REALITY? September 24, 2009