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.