I really have trouble understanding the word Peace, and I am talking about the word, not even the concept. The concept can make reference to harmony, lack of violence/conflict and feedom. Even the words that describe Peace are troublesome. For example, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus talks about harmony as a conflict of opposites.
I am not going to elaborate on Heraclitus thoughts; but I will highlight that, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word Peace comes from the latin Pax (“Freedom from civil disorder”) and came to us from Anglo-French Pes (old French Pais). The word transformed to Peace in English and has been used in relation to the word Shalom in Hebrew, and both sharing with Salaam in Arabic. What this words mean is difficult to establish and understand, as they have multiple meanings. Today, when we talk about Peace, we think about non-violence, safety, well-being, justice, prosperity, respect and tolerance, among others.
What’s important is to understand and dialogue around the concept of Peace considering its multiple uses. Some people think about unarmed states or individuals that will help anyone without an interest. At a personal level, people associate it with words like tranquility and kindness for example.
I do not know any universal concept of Peace and it is difficult to write about it. Although, I do have a notion of what it is based on my experience and references. Peace is a matter of study too as there are societies supposedely with greater understanding of it and, in an effort to reach certain levels, reflection comes from institutions such as centers for religion and conflict, deling with peace studies at all levels: society, violence/non-violence, human condition, etc.
There is no doubt that we must make an effort to comprehend what is Peace and how it affects us. From the humanitarian point of view, we refer to figures like Ghandi, who is associated with peaceful resistance. But even he had a role to play and India is far from his ideal.
One point of analysis in our societies consist of States that promote Peace sustaining military industries, being inconsistent in its policies. To me, that is just unfair. I started this text with a philosopher and I will finish it with another one, the German Friedrich Nietzsche, with the following quote from his book Human, All Too Human. A book for free spirits:
“No government nowadays admits that it maintains an army so as to satisfy it’s occasional thirst for conquest. The army is supposed to be for defense, that morality which sanctions self protection is called upon to be it’s advocate. This is how all states now confront one another. They presuppose an evil disposition in their neighbor and a benevolent disposition in themselves. This presupposition, however, is a piece of inhumanity as bad as, if not worse than, a war would be. The doctrine of the army as a means of self-defense must be renounced just as completely as the thirst for conquest. And perhaps there will come a great day on which a nation distinguished for wars and victories and for the highest development of military discipline and thinking, and accustomed to making the heaviest sacrifices on behalf of these things, will cry of its own free will: “We shall shatter the sword” – and demolish its entire military machine down to its last foundations. To disarm while being the best armed, out of an elevation of sensibility – that is the means to real peace. Better to perish than to hate and fear, and twofold better to perish than to make oneself hated and feared – this must one day become the supreme maxim of every individual state!”
By Fernando Aguilar / @fjaguilarr