Peace: A New Paradigm Part 1


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Today, despite abundant and daily evidence of the absence of peace, most of us would agree that we would prefer to have peace in our personal and global life--yet, many would say, despite a desire for peace, that peace could never become a normal condition of human life. Yet, consider how our views about peace have changed in this century.

1959 Nobel Peace Laureate, British statesman, Philip Noel-Baker wrote in 1965: "...before World War I the response to a question about peace would have been very different. Many people, including government leaders, would have agreed with German Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke's words, 'Perpetual peace is a dream, and it is not even a beautiful dream.' Or they might have repeated the words of British essayist John Ruskin, 'War is the foundation of all high virtues and faculties of men.'. Such people pointed out that throughout recorded history, war--organized conflict between groups, tribes, cities, and nations--had been a constant feature of human society. They believed that military success was the highest of human achievements and that armed might was the measure of national geatness and prestige. In support of their beliefs they argued--and a handful of miltarists still argue--along the following line of reasoning: (1) that man is by nature a fighting animal; (2) that his progress has been achieved by the survival of the fittest in the unending struggle for wealth and power; (3) that stable peace is, therefore, contrary to the decisive forces in human evolution; and (4) that, if stable peace could be achieved, man's worth and man's achievement would decline. As things have been in the past, the militarists say, so they must be in the future. They conclude that because there always have been wars, there always will be wars.

British biologist Sir Wilfrid Le Gros Clark roundly denied this proposition (that man is a fighting animal). Man, said Sir Wilfrid, by a process of evolution over millions of years, has become the dominant species among hundreds of thousands of other species. He has done so not because he is a fighter, but on the contrary, because he has a gift of 'altruism' and a capacity for 'cooperativeness' possessed by no other species. Sir Wilfrid emphasized that altruism and cooperativeness are the driving forces of man's fabulous progress, the secret of his success.

Biologist, Sir Julian Huxley, has written: 'The biologist denies emphatically that there are human war instincts, either to make war in a particular way, or to make war in general.' He further stated: 'The biologist is able to say with assurance that war is not a general law of life, but an exceedingly rare biological phenomenon.' The militarists' romance is bad history. War has not promoted human progress. How many of the ablest and noblest human beings have perished in war before they could make their proper contribution to man's advance? How many of the most gifted peoples have been exterminated by genocide or have been subjugated by slavery?

Many historians have overestimated the importance of warriors in human evolution. Napoleon was one of the few who made a positive political, legal and social contribution to human progress.

Yet, as has been pointed out by American writer Henry J. Taylor, the invention of the steam engine during the Napoleonic period, 'was a thousand times more important to the human race than Napoleon or the Napoleonic Wars.'." Yet there remain: wars of aggression, oppression, attrition, liberation--wars for ideological or religious supremacy, limited wars, wars in the national interest, pre-emptive wars, race wars and wars in the name of defense of country. National and global treasuries are emptied and tens of thousands continue to die as a result of wars. hatred, competition and genocide.

Why, if logic, intuition, reason and biology agree that peace is vastly preferable to war, do we not have the general perception that peace is exerting, in useful, significant and powerful ways, its natural supremacy over war? Why do so many continue to regard peace and peace efforts/work as being "pie-in-the-sky" or "the impossible dream"--the province of a few dreamy-eyed, out-of-touch-with-reality do-gooders and malcontents? Why is the subject of peace given so little attention in our schools, public/political discourse and public media? Why is peace so often defined in the public mind, as no more than the "absence of war"? Why do so many, associate the term, Peace, with descriptors such as--dangerous, weak, pointless, impotent, fantastic, impossible and failure?

These are important questions for our consideration and action. Our ability to promote, and make more fecund and successful, the quest for an enduring peace, in significant ways, hinges in large part on our success at transforming general perceptions and beliefs about peace--from general apathy to general engagement and support.

Redefining Peace-

How might this be done? I offer to the reader several ideas which may prove useful; the first of which is an updated, revised, expanded and more concise definition of peace. We need to state and define clearly, why peace is so much more than the "absence of war". Earlier in this article we noted that biologists deny there are human war instincts, and, that war is an exceeding rare biological phenomenon. Sir Wilfrid stated that the secret to man's success has been the gift of altrusim and a capacity for cooperativeness.

Therefore, it is normal and natural for humankind to be at peace, and manifesting its altrusim through cooperation. This condition is requisite for continuing man's progress and success. Derivative of the above, we may then define peace as: "...that human condition which is a general and normal human biological behavior, and accompanied by altruism and the capacity for cooperativeness as driving forces of human progress and success--and which rejects war, armed conflict or violence between or amongst parties as an acceptable or normal biological human behavior for the attainment of personal or communal gain".

Next, we turn to the United Nations Charter and its purposes, for explication, refinement to practice, expansion and clarification of the meaning and definition of peace. The United Nations, a global governmental body, which seeks to preserve, maintain and promote global peace through the implementation of its charter, makes a further contribution to the definition of peace. That charter includes many elements deemed essential and integral to the success of its mandate for global peacemaking and peacekeeping. "The (United Nations) Charter sets forth the purposes of the United Nations as the maintenance of international peace and security, the development of friendly relations between states, and the achievment of cooperation in solving international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems. It expresses a strong hope for the equality of all men and the expansion of basic freedoms."

In furtherance then, of a yet larger and more inclusive definition of peace, we restate, and include, the following:

(1) Minimally, peace is--that human condition which is a general and normal biological human behavior, accompanied by altruism and the capacity for cooperativeness as driving forces of human progress and success; and includes the absence of, and rejection of war, armed conflict or violence between or amongst parties as an acceptable or general and normal behavior for the attainment of personal or communal gains;

(2) attainment of peace, requires at least: maintenance of international peace and security, development of friendly relations between states, achievement of cooperation in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems, and hope for the realization of the equality of all humans and the continuing expansion of basic freedoms to all of humanity; and,

(3) "...the understanding that peace is both inner and outer. It is a condition of consciousness, a state of being and becoming which involves cognition, conation and affection. In its integral stage it has a contentment and fulfillment because it is its own witness and has a calm and a repose and a balance of the intelligence of the head and the heart, an intuitive understanding that is born of wisdom and compassion, a harmony that transcends opposites or contraries and says without speaking, knows without looking, and is without doing. Peace in the integral being is consciousness of love and light." (contributed by Dr. Vasant V. Merchant, Editor, The International Journal of Humanities and Peace), and lastly (but not finally),

(4) To be enduring, peace must include minimally, the following attributes: resource sufficiency, cooperation, freedom from ignorance and illiteracy; personal and communal opportunities, compassion and caring for others, behaviors and actions that result in all parties "winning", renewable, sustainable energy--sufficient hope, love and prosperity for all, and prospects for the "good life" for all.

We now have an expanded (albeit, not exhaustive) global, spiritual, meta-physical, physical, philosophical, biological, anthropological, economic, social, political, natural and operational definition of peace. Peace is defined as being a normal, natual and essential condition for the continued and continuing progression of all humanity toward 100% success.

Like perennial wild flowers given the right conditions of climate and nature, peace is ever-recurring at various times and places--in greater and lesser degrees--throughout the human community. Peace and its constituent qualities of sufficiency, altruism, cooperation, hope, love and serenity remain life-sustaining and anti-entropic--our teacher of the "ways", our "beacon" for success and survival--our preferred and natural state.

(This concludes Part 1 of the article, please return to the main page for, Peace: A New Paradigm, Part 2) [Image] Hot Links [Image] Peace Through Development Game [Image] The beginning or a new Age of Peace, occurs as humanity sheds its belief in scarcity and embraces the reality of Nature's plenitude. [Image] This page created with Netscape Navigator Gold