What is Peace?

It seems that humanity is only apt to repeat its own errors. In an age of advanced information technology, we might all notice the countless wars which had been fought since we existed. We have also stopped to ponder the question, why do we have wars? When World War II ended, a great wave of despair and meaninglessness occupied the world, and what has come out of it? Why is it that human beings only know violence? Why do we react only with force? Why do we believe that any kind of war, at any level or scale, can solve any problems at all?

In times of war, we might stand by, or pick a side, and condemn the enemy. Of course, the enemy will condemn back. On either side, the motive for aggression seems so absolutely rational. We can call each other out, for our stupidity, nonsensical reason, greed, and so on, but we do not realize that by our very condemnation, we have accomplished nothing? Condemnation is the way of war. By condemning the enemy, we think we are morally superior, better, more suited to run the world. But are we? Aren’t we the same? Aren’t we all greedy? Don’t we all desire power, desire a sense of control, desire to expand our influence? Not only on the national scale, the international scale, but also in the family, at the workplace, and in one’s psyche. We are so fundamentally violent in our way of life that our only course of action has become violence. Violence does not begin with war. It begins with the slightest inkling in one’s mind, that force can ever solve anything.

When we see that we are the same, not Russian or Ukrainian, not American or Chinese, then do we have wars? If we love each other like we love our family, how can there be intentional bloodshed in the name of a nation? We do not see that human beings are suffering. It is not a human being of a specific nation, but a human being. We are human beings. We might have erected borders and identities, but in the end we all suffer. It is precisely our imagined division that has blinded us from seeing our basic sameness: greed, sorrow, desire.

The tragedy is, we do not love each other. Our love isn’t love at all, because our love is limited, directed, small, focused. Love has no judgment. Love does not condemn. Love knows no enemy. Love does not wage war for any reward. Love knows no reward. This desire for a reward, which is really the same movement of imperialism, colonialism, and all the ideologies of war, is at the root of our bloodshed and crisis. If we do not understand this desire, and by that very understanding dissolve that desire, then war will be an eternal flame, accompanying humanity till the dying days.

There is no personal suffering. Suffering of a child is the suffering of the entire humanity. Somehow, we justify our violence with determination and ideology. Somehow, we think what we believe in, like nationalism, is much more important than a human life. We are always measuring, comparing, and in such comparison, we cannot see that what we kill are ourselves. In our acts of war, we have emptied our minds any sense of compassion and sensitivity. When we are sensitive to suffering, when we see the hunger, the maiming, the loss, how can we support any war? But, are we sensitive? Do we have the space for compassion? Or are we so completely occupied by what we think is right and wrong, by our own petty beliefs? In the echo chamber of our mind, what we repeat we will do, and what we will do the world will become. Why repeat anything? Why believe in any nation? A human being who is serious at peace belongs to no nation.

The crisis of war has always been here, boiling, waiting for the right conditions to set out, to become a wildfire that might finally engulf our entire world. When we are aware of this crisis, not just when it has broken out, but also when it is prying and waiting to explode, then we naturally make sure to avoid the danger of it. When we see the danger of this desire for power, we do not turn its wheel. When we see the danger of war, we do not say a word in support of this name. This is unconditional. There is no compromise. Peace is uncompromising. Peace must be absolute, and it must begin at the root at every human being’s consciousness. Any desire for power will only corrupt, and then war is inevitable. We do not like peace to be absolute, only because we cannot let go of this desire for power. When there is no such desire, one lives a peaceful life. And such a life is a living testament to peace. Such a life can only be lived. It cannot be copied, punished into existence, or maimed into shape. There must be genuine understanding in the mind. Only peace can bring about peace. Violence begets violence. War is the child of war.


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Cover photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash