Peace Movement’s Two Roles—Reducing Distress in a Big Way and Saving the Planet

Peace Knotted Gun UN United Nations

Violence causes massive distress in our daily life, as seen in children being beaten and abused, women suffering physical, sexual and emotional assault, school and workplace aggression, bullying, fighting, youth gangs, attacks and homicide as also violence against the self as seen in suicides, suicide attempts and self-harm. Not just the victims but also several of their near and dear ones experience enormous distress which often lasts for a long time. If all these aspects of violence in daily life are taken together, these together cause significant distress to almost one half of humanity in any given year.

In addition there is the violence of wider conflicts and wars. These also kill a large number of people, the average of the last century being around one million in a year, but many times more are seriously injured and disabled, displaced, or perish in famines and diseases related to war. These wars are getting increasingly dangerous, and can destroy most life on earth if even a small percentage of all accumulated weapons of mass destruction are used.

The role of the peace movement is to minimize the possibility of all these destructions and adverse impacts.

On the one hand it seeks to minimize the possibilities of various forms of violence including self-violence in daily life. So many efforts are already being made for this, but there may be problems in them. To give one example, to reduce possibilities of various forms of self-violence, there may be over-reliance on certain medicines whose benefits may also be exaggerated for economic gain. The role of the peace movement may be to provide a more evidence-based approach and also to provide a wider, holistic understanding of the social situation, helping to understand root causes of violence and also ways of reducing this.

If the peace movement is successful in this, then this will attract a large number of people who should be involved in various important peace activities such as inter-faith harmony and ensuring peace in communities at various levels. This mobilization of a large number of people for peace in daily life also provides increasing opportunities for mobilizing people on world peace, disarmament and minimizing the possibilities of war and conflict. Peace movements of various countries can cooperate with each other all the time to take this forward at world level, ultimately establishing the peace movement as a very important force for creating a better and safer world. One of the most important objectives should be to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction, to reduce all weapons, minimize the military industrial complex and ultimately to create a future without wars. If there is peace and stability, chances of cooperation for resolving serious environmental problems increase significantly. Hence both by eliminating weapons of mass destruction as well as by facilitating cooperation for resolving global environmental problems like climate change such a peace movement can contribute greatly to saving and protecting the life-nurturing conditions of our planet. 

Hence these two important tasks of reducing violence in daily life in various ways should be integrated with the wider task of world peace and disarmament, thereby creating possibilities of millions and millions of people becoming a part of this movement.

Needless to add, durable peace is only possible if it is peace with justice and so the peace movement is inevitably committed to a world based on justice and equality.

So much care is taken to ensure that children and young adults are able to pursue education in accordance with their career interests. As violence is such an important cause of distress and destruction, why not give equal attention to ensuring that children and adolescents grow up with values and world-views based on peace with justice?

Nelson Mandela said—“Many who live with violence day in and out assume that it is an intrinsic part of the human condition. But this is not so. Violence can be prevented. Violent cultures can be turned around. In my own country and around the world we have shining examples of how violence has been countered. Governments, communities and individuals can make a difference…Safety and security don’t just happen: they are the result of collective consensus and public investment.”

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children, Planet in Peril, Earth without Border, A Day in 2071 and Man over Machine. 


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