THE SEARCH FOR PEACE
TheSearch for Peace
Peace has provenquite elusive in the modern age. Well-meaning efforts to create peacehave resulted in little success. Cases of war and conflict continueto afflict mankind in different parts of the world. It seems as ifmankind is hell-bent on the path of self-destruction. The historicalrecord of man is punctuated with many instances of war and otherminor conflicts. In a nutshell, peace has always been a moving targetfor mankind. Nevertheless, the dawn of the 20th centuryspelled a new phase of unprecedented conflict on the earth. The onsetof the First World War highlighted the potent threat posed bylawlessness on the ultimate existence of mankind. The aftermath ofthis war impressed the need for world leaders to align theirinterests. In 1919, the League of Nations was formed to foster worldpeace and prevent the emergence of another war of global proportions.However, the world was plunged into unprecedented chaos just twodecades later in the Second World War. The League of Nations hadutterly failed in its mandate.
The conclusion ofthe Second World War resulted in the formation of the United Nations.The UN had a similar objective as the League of Nations. Granted,there has not occurred another conflict with a global impact as theprevious two wars. However, to conclude that the UN has succeeded tobring peace is an oversimplification of the facts. All over theworld, periods without organized armed conflict have been few and farbetween. Conservative estimates highlight that over 100 millionpeople have died as a result of wars since 1914. To put things intoperspective, this figure is three times more than those who died inwars from first century AD to the 19th century. Moreover,there seems to be an ever-present threat of war due to thedevelopment of nuclear energy. In consideration of this, it seemsfutile to imagine the world with peace.
The failure ofinternational bodies to ensure peace highlights the significance ofindividual efforts. War and conflict occur as a result of fundamentalflaws in human nature. In particular, selfishness and greed are primefactors that plunge men into ruin. Many conflicts have arisen due toterritorial disputes between sovereign states. Other wars have beeninstigated as a result of broken promises and covenants. In otherinstances, international bodies have enforced military action againstoppressive forms of leadership as a last resort. It is impossible forpeace to prevail as long as implements of war continue to bedeveloped and distributed. Western nations supply arms to countriesin the Middle East in exchange for oil. In this manner, greedpermeates through governments and lays the groundwork for war andconflict.
Therefore,efforts to bring peace need to start at the individual level.According to the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, self-reliance andpersonal satisfaction are critical aspects that can help to achievepeace. A greater sense of self-reliance has the potential torevolutionize all aspects of human life. Human relations have thepotential to get more productive as a result of self-reliance.Additionally, adapting spiritual virtues would also help to changeattitudes inclined to war and conflict. Peaceful relations originatefrom the thoughts and feelings we have concerning fellow men.Harboring resentment and developing hatred may seem minor andnon-consequential. However, armed conflict and war are primarymanifestations of such hatred.
The human natureis intrinsically flawed in that people would be inclined to takeoffense and retaliate at every opportunity. It takes effort toendeavor to be peaceable with all persons. Moreover, forgiveness isanother crucial quality that each person needs to cultivate.Inevitably, someone will slight us at one point in time, eitherintentionally or accidentally. At other times, one may not even beaware of having caused offense to his fellow man. Such situationshighlight the importance of being merciful and cultivating aforgiving attitude. Rather than seeking peace from external sources,being at peace with ourselves is far more important. If each personendeavored to develop peace within themselves, instances of conflictwould subside.
Love has beenlabeled as the most powerful force in the universe. Love for theCreator and fellow man will build lasting friendships and engenderpeaceful relations. Heartfelt love for humans would uproot hatred andother potential causes of conflict. Emerson emphasized how love wouldmove us to look past racial or tribal groupings. Prejudice anddiscrimination have created plenty of conflict and war. Racialdisputes have disturbed the peace of developed nations. In developingcountries, ethnic differences have caused many conflicts. Forexample, the 1994 Rwandan genocide occurred as a conflict between theHutu and Tutsi tribes that left over 500,000 people dead and millionsmore displaced.
Tolerance is alsoa valuable quality that can help to stave off the outbreak of war. Itis important to realize that people come from various backgrounds andschools of thought. Consequently, it is only reasonable thatdifferences in opinion and viewpoints will occur. Different cultureshave different ways of approaching certain matters. Cultivatingtolerance will help to preserve peace in such instances where viewsdiffer.
As discussed, peace has proven to be an elusive commodity. War andconflict have pervaded human history, especially through the courseof the 20th century. International bodies have failed tobring peace to the global scene. Nevertheless, personal efforts canserve to bring peace as long as people cultivate admirable qualitiesof love, patience, selflessness, and tolerance. Indeed, nothing canbring about peace but oneself.