Jan 21, 2011

Reinventing the value of Peace__2

REINVENTING THE VALUE OF PEACE-PARTII


The world has invented modern technologies, striding forward in the field of physics, mathematics and other sciences. It has in recognition given Nobel prizes to those accomplishing remarkable feats in these spheres. It is constantly exploring new horizons, tapping valuable resources of the earth. The human body has been dissected and explored, tremendous strides in medicine and diagnosis of diseases unearthed. Psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Carlos Jung have done intrusive research into the mind of man, analyzed its complexities and its intricate workings.
In many spheres spectacular innovations have been made which have drastically changed the shapes of our lives. These new technologies have changed lifestyles and given new perspective to life. Likewise social change has transformed the face of societies.

In the arena of religion, we have evolved from a belief in many gods to a universal faith in One God. But we have gone further and done a profiling of religion, dividing it into two levels of thought. One is the liberals who follow a rational line of comprehension, malleable to change and reform. The second school panders to fundamentalists who follow a single line, literalists in thought, reading a rigid interpretation to theoretical dogma. Like stagnant water in a pond, flowing neither outwards nor inwards, it breeds fungi and rot. The law of nature dictates that all things must continuously flow, change and evolve to sustain life. Man exercises his free will, his individual faculties to nurture life.

Growth is only possible when people are free to assert their individual will and faculties. Freedom releases energy to create and function productively. The inverse breeds misery, hatred and perversity or at its worst insanity when we distort social traditions, religion and justice to manipulate people. It is when we reform and change laws breeding negativity, can we bring a radical social change. Does not nature breed seasonal fruits and plants to blossom and ripen? Old clich├ęs return again and again reinforcing themselves_ ‘Sow as you shall reap’

In the past, countries lived in quasi-isolation with an illusion of self-sufficiency. With little interaction and absence of diplomatic channels, nations picked up quarrels, spiraling wars resulting in conquests, annexation of territory and the powerful hold of colonialism. They strengthened their economies by plundering resources of neighboring countries, leading to bigger wars and massive destruction. The recent examples are the two world wars aimed at expanding political power through hegemony.

Entering the twenty-first century we struggled to make peace with one another, by elucidating the concept of state sovereignty, censoring and banning aggression against another country. The United Nations is a useful platform where countries engage in dialogue to diffuse tensions between countries. Nevertheless big powers still eye for each others’ resources with greed, but are forced to restrain and use legal methods to acquire resources of other countries, through trade, multinational companies and outsourcing.

In the global conglomerate there is an odd mix of interplay between countries, some overt and others covert and subtle. The big and powerful like the U.S cut a belligerent figure, breaking into sporadic acts of aggression. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are typical examples of hegemony over weaker nations. Here there is again a need to heal wounds of attrition and make peace.

In today’s modern world there is rapid social transformation, stirring ripples on a global scale. Social change triggers new modes. An effort to fit into the template of modern times, to be current and suitably relevant is popular. When social change is drastic and sudden it can lead to a negative outcome. Conflicts arise that disturb peace of the society.

Post world wars and post colonialism, the world has not healed itself and tremors are felt and haunt the minds of nations. Developed nations have purged themselves after these wars through their achievements and do not live with ghosts to haunt them. They have moved forward with success and do not need to look back.
Countries mired in poverty and backwardness eye for vengeance. They continue to stoke the fires of anger and rebellion, in the hope that they will be healed, contrarily plunging themselves into deeper conflict. They look for scapegoats to vent their anger, particularly more affluent western powers, like the U.S. and U.K. Feeling trapped in failure, they seek power through juvenile aggression, of a child playing tantrums, going around in circles, a useless endless whirlpool of anger and frustration.

Religion has been resuscitated, in a desperate attempt to save the sinking ship. Consequently they have thrown into the melting pot many theories, with new interpretations to real and mythical failure, to clear the dense fog of despair. In a world with its quick changing panorama, impoverished nations are unable to compete so they hide under subterfuges, by lashing out at the strong, cutting them to size, demeaning them, igniting old conflicts.

The demon of terrorism today is unreal, a guerilla war engaged with a mythical enemy, seeking its vindication from history.There will be no winners, only losers who continue to engage in battle. With no frontiers to combat, the wars are as hollow as vanity, and as empty as bravado; fighting with invisible tools of ideology and delusions of megalomania. This is another ism like Marxism and Communism that will die its own natural death because it cannot be sustained for long. However till it lasts it is a menace to be dealt with and the casualties of war are real and horrific.

Peace with its correlated harmony is basic to humanity and its collective struggle. Old enmities are thawing, threadbare conceptions are dwindling. Russia has repaired its relations with the U.S. and the U.S. with China. The myth of Frankenstein is evaporating as the world heads towards a more equitable economic and social order. Countries are focusing on economic development as the core of prosperity in an environment of peace.

New technologies of communication have bridged gaps between nations, quickened the process of interchange. Walls have been pulled down, social barriers softened, closing the path of confrontation. Shadows of myths are dissolving in mutual interest and mutual interdependence. The global connection is bringing us together and simultaneously enhancing togetherness and distinctness. Each one asserts their own cultural and religious identities to preserve their individualism. With greater enlightenment there is tendency to emulate and evaluate others. With the dissolution of intangible barriers there is a greater need to define and delineate.

Like the inhabitants of the jungle man lives in fear of annihilation and fights for self-preservation. In modern times definitive rules have been set to achieve peace and harmony by playing the games of fair play and refraining from aggression and violence. Man will always live with a perception of danger and all its battles are fought on the threshold of self-preservation. Living at peace with oneself and with others is his only salvation and that of the mother earth to which we owe an eternal debt.

How do we live in Peace?

HOW DO WE LIVE IN PEACE? - PART I



Our essential duty as humans is to live in harmony with each other in a state of peaceful coexistence. Here we ensure not only our own safety but that of the earth as well. Having been born from the earth and then returning to it, we have a latent bond with it, an alliance born of love and natural affinity. We share our elemental bodies with it and are inextricably linked for our survival.

Diversity is the cornerstone of our socio-economic and cultural structures. It is a beautiful and scintillating aspect of our world, which gives it richness, complementing our lives in many indescribable ways, broadening our visions, giving it depth and insight. It draws different patterns each one with its own distinctness and beauty. Imagine a palette with only one color and one shape and we can see how mundane it can be.

Pluralistic societies are versatile and progressive culturally and socially than those of single ethnic races. Through intermingling and interaction they learnt to appreciate and understand the authenticity of other cultures. Then on a subterranean level they assimilate each others’ mores and values, undergoing a subtle change. Moreover there is always the compulsion to coexist for one’s own survival.

For people to live peacefully in a society the state must provide equal and basic rights for all, a just and egalitarian society, equal opportunities for all races, castes, creeds, genders and religions. Here the state is proactive and discourages discrimination on every level. Research shows that economic well being, mutual social recognition, lowers crime rate, juvenile delinquency and social conflict.
A developed society has its roots in good values, inculcates love and respect for all, throws light on diverse communities and religions, their pristine ethics and values. Personal liberty for individuals, freedom of expression, and the pursuit of an independent lifestyle are the essence of a richer life. A perfect analogy can be derived from nature. Leave a plant in a dark, airless room and it will wilt and grow pale despite getting nutrients from the soil.

Art, music and literature are fundamental to life. The social sciences feed the individual with vision, insight and humanity. A broad-based, liberal education is quintessential to a homogenous society, breeding inclusiveness. An otherwise exclusive education in sciences leads to a fixed and insular mindset. Narrow definitions of textual interpretations produce an inelastic mind that has the tendency to be fixated to one ideology. Teaching textual religion from an early age can tutor young minds in a way that they are unable to see beyond narrow perimeters. In this way an entire generation can become fixed on an ideology which is anathema to a pluralistic and harmonious society.

In a fast growing global structure it is imperative to think and act globally rather than inwardly. With growing interdependence it is of great value to empathize with insight and compassion. Isolation and insularity are opposed to peace and conflict resolution because they can build walls between people resulting in bigotry and misconceptions. Discourse and dialogue between communities and nations will bridge gaps and lead to understanding.

Literature and poetry promote learning of the abstract side of human beings which is flexible and profound. That is why reading, writing, creativity, analysis and insight are valuable skills to be acquired which encourage the process of creating peace in our environment.

It has been said, ‘The entire philosophy of life is summarized as peace. It is at the beginning and the end, between them is interest.’ It is central to religion, to spirituality and to morality. Meditation is a technique to create a state of consciousness which gives energy to the body and spirit. This energy then flows outwards and creates harmony in our external world. Love is integral to peace, for it creates unity and integration in diversity

Rationalism and enlightenment help in understanding the different perspective to issues. Multiculturalism is so multilayered that a flimsy and superficial knowledge can only aggravate and obstruct conflict resolution. It is only when we delve deeper can we truly comprehend the complexities of issues. Different periods in our history have given new dimensions to our culture and religion, making it more complex and compounded. That is why nations with a lesser diverse history, like China, Middle-East, Africa are more consistent and transparent in their structural behavior.
Power of positivity creates a mindset that is productive, proactive, harmonious and united. Inversely the power of negativity breeds violence, discord, dysfunctional behavior, and misery. We always have an option in life, to adopt one against the other. We can choose to be positive which is the reality of life and improve our lives. Or we can be negative, which is the imaginary, broken mirror that takes us along a destructive road.

It is said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’. Peace will begin from within. When we perceive things correctly our attitudes will change. Then our behavior will change and we can teach the message of hope and peace to those around us. Individuals and then communities are the beacons of social change through awareness and empathy.

The printed word matched with positive deeds can galvanize people yearning for change and a peaceful world. Poetry is a sublime and intellectual expression which stirs emotions and insight. A sense of morality, good ethics and values are instilled by reading classical literature. It is a subtle and powerful tool to carry a message of peace which young readers can imbibe. The imaginative mind is capable of imbibing and then creating its own morality. It cannot ever be forced down ones throat by pontification. Tolerance, patience and friendship can be nurtured by mutual collaboration and co-operation. These are like healthy seeds in a soil which will give birth to values which will connect people positively by uniting them.
Unity, faith and discipline are essential to create a strong fabric in a vibrant and productive society. Justice is an integral part of every value system for it promotes fraternity, equality and respect amongst men and women. The contrary of this, discrimination and injustice breed violence and conflict. It is important to minimize differences in communities and emphasize human values as worthy and durable.

If basic rights are equal and personal liberty is granted to everybody, we will have a moral society with decreased crime and delinquency, able to coexist peacefully. We will then witness a transformative change in ourselves, when the quality of life of every individual will be greatly improved. A transparent mind with a capacity to change and reform is the quintessential humility we all need to acquire and build in ourselves values that are human and sustainable.