On peace

Peace is an elusive creature that seems to flee human company. Peace seems to be a state that people desire, but no one is interested in working for it. War, on the other hand, and its good buddy, violence, cling to human civilization like the blood-sucking ticks that they are. War and violence have followed human civilization at every turn, everywhere. One often wonders why violence is the only way that human beings can settle almost any conflict. The wars that populate our history are too numerous to count, but that also begs the question, why are they so numerous? And do wars ever settle anything? Is the natural condition for the human being a state of war? With all the chaos, destruction, hunger, suffering, deprivation, and death that go with war, one would really imagine that humans would flee from war and seek peace at every turn. I think, though, that there are really two kinds of humans–those who seek peace as a state of mind and philosophy for life, a Gandhi, for example, and those who thrive on privation, violence, and destruction, even when it might mean their own destruction, a Napoleon, for example. I am totally convinced that some people only thrive when they are creating or fanning the flames of conflict, and the more conflict they create, the happier they are. There are human beings who are never content with peace, seek conflict, thrive on violence, and nest in destruction. From an evolutionary standpoint, war is antithetical because it rains on both the weak and the strong alike, and often those who survive, survive only because of chance, not because of any survival merit they might have. War, in fact, often destroys the strong, hardy, ambitious, healthy young people who are chosen to fight, which normally means young men in their prime. War is a self-destruction machine that chews the righteous and the evil alike, and in the end even the victors have lost something good, perhaps their own innocence. And, as all winners know, battles may be won, but the war is always ongoing and the defeated are always looking for a way back. Peace, on the other hand, is not a battle or an action; it is the absence of action in a state of compromise where the participating parties decide to leave each other alone: it is the absence of violence, the absence of action; it is the absence of arms, bombs, knives, and guns. Peace is not a strategy or an ideology. Peace is a state of mind in which people decide to tolerate each other even when they have differences or are different. Peace is not an action, but an inaction in which there is no room for conflict or fighting. Perhaps peace can only ever be a state of mind, no strings attached, no conditions, no stipulations because otherwise it’s not peace. Peace will never be an act of legislation or the outcome of a court case; peace has to be a willful act in which those who are different decide they can live life without turning their differences into acts of violence.