Integrating Peace Within with Peace in World  

Ukraine Peace
Stop the War Coalition and CND march through London for peace in Ukraine. Photo credit: Stop the War Coalition

One of the few hopeful signs for world peace has been that at some of the most dangerous moments there has been a very helpful response in the form of big gatherings of people demanding peace. However in most such cases there was lack of adequate follow-up steps and so the one-time mobilization often became more like symbolic action, failing to achieve the desired results.

As the dangers of wars, arms race and many-sided violence increase, there is clearly need for more sustained and continuing efforts by peace movements. To be able to achieve this, and for more people to be drawn into peace movements, it is important to try to achieve a unity and integration between peace within and peace in world.

The concept of peace within various human beings has been generally discussed more at the level of spiritual movements, but this needs to be examined in the context of a much wider role for reducing distress and for creating a safer and more peaceful world.

Most human beings have a violent side to their personality, to their actions, their thinking, to a lesser or greater extent. This needs to be understood as a cause of distress for any human being as well as his near and dear ones. Hence conscious efforts have to be made to reduce this violence within self. Unfortunately such a need is not even accepted by most people leading to much avoidable distress in the world. One of the important but relatively neglected tasks of the peace movement should be to encourage and promote such self-introspection and improvements based on this. On the one hand this will reduce distress and on the other hand this will motivate more people to join the peace movement.

It is amazing to see the extent to which people invariably blame others for any problems and disputes in relationships. The tendency to ignore one’s own flaws and see wrong only in others is responsible for so much distress and discord, and then this habit gets carried over to wider issues and contributes to many social disputes, and further even to international disputes. The conscious efforts to bring peace within also involve being tolerant and understanding towards other points of view and towards what opponents or rivals are saying. Such discipline and self-efforts are very important for peace activists and peace movements.

In addition there are traits, often hidden traits, to say something hurtful to not just opponents but sometimes even to near and dear ones, which need to be curbed and controlled with conscious efforts and discipline, in the process reducing much distress and improving human relationships all around us.

As leading peace activists seek to encourage more people for self-introspection as a first step to reduce the violence within, they will inevitably (hopefully) carry out such self-introspection themselves too and thereby they will be able to reduce their own distress and increase their own capacity and energy for peace work. Also the dismal scenes sometimes seen of peace activists themselves behaving in violent and aggressive ways will be avoided, thereby also leading to lesser conflicts and divisions within the peace movement, strengthening the peace movement.

As more people try to reduce the violence within the self, violence in and around daily lives of people including gender violence, domestic violence, sectarian violence, fights and bullying decrease. Hence distress in entire society is reduced in ways which affect people more directly in daily life. Also people are drawn to those who have successfully achieved more peace within, and hence the idea of peace spreads.

The idea of peace in the peace movement of course means, must mean peace with justice. Hence the spread of such peace movements also reduces injustice in society.

As capacity of peace activists who have achieved peace within is enhanced and as more people are listening to and are being attracted towards the peace movement, it becomes possible for them to raise wider issues of international peace and disarmament and to mobilize people for peace and against war. Hence a unity and integrity of peace within and peace of world can be achieved by the peace movement, with the efforts for peace within not remaining just individual efforts but also contributing to peace and well-being of world.

Integration of peace and justice efforts with the efforts for environmental protection will also be very helpful for both efforts. Hence at a broader level we can say that the agenda and efforts for justice, equality, peace and protection of environment and all forms of life should be integrated in creative and well-thought out ways. This can be briefly described as the JEPP approach, something that is easy to remember and captures the just mentioned five basic precepts which can be most helpful to create a protective world. This will improve welfare at multiple levels and ultimately help the world to adopt the kind of agenda which is really needed to protect the life-nurturing conditions of our planet. This is needed today more than ever before due to the existential crisis or the survival crisis that threatens the world today so badly and resolving which must become the topmost priority of humanity.

The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, A Day in 2071, Protecting Earth for Children and Earth without Borders.   

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