Every voice for peace is relevant, every voice for peace is needed. Even if it is only a child carrying a placard in a gathering for peace, even if it is an elderly woman struggling to keep up with a procession for peace, all are important at a time when every word, every gesture for peace, and more particularly for justice based peace, has become very important.
Yes, justice-based peace is what we really need and what must be our ultimate aim, but so tragic has been the daily toll of deaths, injuries and uprooting of people from Gaza to Ukraine and elsewhere that in such areas of high destruction there is an urgent and even desperate need to achieve at least immediate ceasefire, while justice-based solutions can be negotiated and worked out later. With the increasing destructiveness of weapons that are used, present-day war can unleash the kind of destruction within a few days which some of the worst wars earlier could not cause in months.
Hence clearly there is overwhelming need for the peace movement to be very strong and have continuity. As stated earlier, every small gesture is relevant and needed. Hence when a large number of people gather for a peace procession this is very important and welcome. However questions remain regarding what occasional gatherings and processions for peace alone can achieve on their own.
Some of the biggest peace marches and processions in western countries were seen at the time of the Iraq invasion. However well-intentioned these may have been, these did not achieve the aim of preventing the invasion, or even continuing a steady stream of protests against the invasion. A one-time gathering of protest on a fixed day helps to provide a significant symbol of the dissent and distress of sections of the people regarding any invasion, aggression or provocation, but this is not adequate for preventing invasions, other serious aggressions, the most horrible and destructive arms race and overall for bringing peace to a deeply troubled and violent world.
The dangers of many-sided aggressions, deliberate provocations and highly destructive wars today are so grave that symbolic protest, although certainly welcome and of some value at least, is just not adequate compared to what the world needs. A peace movement based mainly on symbolic protest is too weak and inadequate. The world needs a much stronger, broad-based, effective movement with continuing well-planned activities. There is much greater potential for a much bigger and more effective role of the peace movement which has not been realized yet.
Such a big, untapped potential certainly exists simply because of the strong feelings of common people everywhere, and most of all among women and children, for peace and non-violence. In increasingly darkening times, light must be sought and obtained by building on this huge potential based on the very widespread and strong yearnings for peace among people. As this writer has argued repeatedly, such a strong worldwide peace with justice movement can be created within a decade with strong horizontal and vertical linkages, on the one hand linking the yearning for peace within and in the immediate surroundings with world-level peace and disarmament, and on the other hand linking the peace movement with the movements for justice and environment protection, also with youth and gender movements.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save the Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, A Day in 2071, Protecting Earth for Children and Earth without Borders.