We recently asked a group of about a dozen area folks that question. Their collective answer: The United Nations is beyond hopeless, and no one could think of any other significant institutions or world leaders working diligently on peace.
If that’s not a surprise – and it shouldn’t be, given the United Nations’ incompetence – it should still send your jaw dropping. Consider: We’ve got about 7 billion people on this planet and climbing, and an apocalyptic regime pursuing nuclear weapons more frantically than a Black Friday shopper. Isn’t it time we kind of focused on peace? Isn’t it a bit belated to be trying to wage peace only after hostilities have begun?
Yet, it appears it will ultimately be up to ordinary people to push for peace on Earth.
Overall, the world is surprisingly peaceful, considering our numbers, our diversity, our historic enmities and a lot of perfectly putrid leaders. But there are dozens of shooting wars going on, and others a hair away – not to mention all the needless violence on our streets and in our homes.
So yes, we need peace on Earth. Desperately. But again, we don’t do a very good job of working toward it, do we?
Most of what are considered to be “peace” movements over the past half-century have, in truth, been anti-war mobilizations. There’s a huge difference. An anti-war campaign primarily seeks the cessation of hostilities, perhaps unilateral disarmament – even at the expense of any kind of justice or lasting resolution to grievances. Even the nuclear freeze movement was centered on the weapons of war, rather than the causes of it. All these things do is try to put a cap on aggression – not address its root causes.
Waging peace is something different entirely.
A true peace movement would, instead, seek out the characteristics required for an end to violence, but by reducing the causes of it – and all within the real-world framework of the need to protect and defend oneself.
Of course, the ability to defend oneself is only the start. Many other things are needed in order to achieve peace – such as love and good will; justice and the rule of law; high morals and civil belief systems; equality and tolerance; hope and opportunity, and more.
It occurs to us, however, that the most fundamental precursors to a lasting peace – and therefore what the world needs most – are freedom and its fraternal twin, responsibility. You cannot have peace without individual liberty (as the Civil Rights movement reminds us); similarly, freedom slips into mere anarchy without the presence of responsibility – which inherently imbues one with an abiding respect for the rights of others.
It’s obvious we’ve got a lot of work to do – starting with spreading freedom throughout the world and responsibility here at home. We can’t change the weather, but maybe the climate. Yet, we can’t just contemplate these things a few weeks a year. Peace on Earth has to be a year-round thing. And it has to start with us.
Peace. Good will toward men.