PEACE IS AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY IF WE ARE TO ELIMINATE EXTREME POVERTY.
Peace is, unfortunately, something we seem to take for granted. It is a precious and important ingredient for a long healthy life and yet we do not fully appreciate its significance. We blindly go through our lives assuming that everyone is as fortunate as we are, but the truth is that millions of innocent people, particularly children, have never had the opportunity to live in peace. For too many, violence is all they’ve ever known. The relentless heartbreak surrounding war is why peace is so critically important. Not only does it save the lives of soldiers and the innocent civilians who are trapped between the warring factions, it also provides the stability necessary for countries to heal their economies and to grow stronger so that their citizens are lifted out of the mire of hunger and disease and can have a future free of fear and destruction. Peace is a primary component in the solution to extreme poverty because without it there is no hope of escaping the death and misery that results from constant fighting.
Peace is the natural state of the world. We have to learn to hate and we have to be taught who to hate. Going to war should be a last resort and even then it should be employed only as a means of self-defense. To kill over territory or for power is an aberration of what it means to be human. Every sensible person on earth wants to live without violence. No one in their right mind wants to expose their children to the horrors of war. No one wants to lose their homes and all their possessions. No one wants to risk injury and death because two nations, regions or leaders cannot reach a suitable compromise that will allow innocent people to live their lives free from the shadow of armed conflict.
Why does peace seem so elusive in poverty? Why is it so difficult to control aggression within the context of low economic output and when there is little hope for prosperity? If there is nothing left to take why are some still driven to grab all they can? Part of the answer lies in our inability to accept others. Nations, regions, ethnic groups, tribes and clans all struggle with the concept of equality and whether human rights should be applied evenly to everyone. Intolerance and bigotry still run rampant in parts of the world creating stumbling blocks to achieving peace. When one society sees another as less than equal they feel no reluctance in oppressing them, subjugating them and even eliminating them. The horror of genocide has been a tragic part of our legacy down through the ages.
It is interesting how, after two warring parties have killed and maimed their opposing populations, they eventually come to terms and accept each other’s right to exist. Problems are solved and often the two entities end up being close trading partners and totally accepting of each other’s right to prosper and live in peace. But why does this only happen after millions have suffered? Why do innocent children have to be shot and blown to pieces for this spirit of brotherhood to suddenly blossom into understanding and acceptance? Why do we have to constantly rebuild lives and economies because the warring factions were convinced that their supposed enemies had to be destroyed at all costs? Why do lives have to be decimated before we are able to see that our differences, no matter how profound, can be worked out in a peaceful way without destroying entire nations? Why can we not have peace right now?
The answer, of course, is that we can. We don’t have to wait. Peace is not an abstract idea that comes and goes on a whim. Peace is the result of hard work. It’s the result of patience and a willingness to listen and to compromise. It’s the result of a desire to not have to bury any more innocent children. It’s the realization that we are intelligent enough, clever enough and resourceful enough to not have to resort to killing every time we have sincere disagreements. We underestimate ourselves when we believe that violence is the only solution. We are selling ourselves short to think that we are incapable of anything other than brute force when it comes to solving the complex problems faced by humanity. We are cheating ourselves when we do not make the best use of our intellect to resolve differences instead of endlessly relying on weapons to dominate those that we refuse to try to understand.
We are a species that has the ability to be creative, and we use that ability everyday of our lives. So why don’t we apply that gift to the creation of better understanding and acceptance among all of us who share this small planet? It is to everyone’s advantage not to kill innocent children on either side of a conflict because those children are the future. They are the hope of tomorrow. To needlessly slaughter them is not only morally reprehensible it is an act of total ignorance and irrationality. How can we think that the future will be any better when we create so much hate from our actions today? Extreme poverty will continue to flourish as long as the human race insists on solving its problems with bloodshed.
Nothing creates poverty faster or on a deeper level than war. It is an unstoppable progression once conflict breaks out. The fighting starts and people’s lives begin to be torn apart. Local economies collapse. Any services that were present before the fighting, quickly disappear and life becomes so challenging that survival cannot be ensured. It is heartbreak and misery on a massive scale…but the solution is ever present. Peace is always possible and always within reach. It is a goal that can be attained at any moment chosen by those embroiled in the conflict. The fighting does not have to be played out until one side annihilates the other. The brutality and cruelty can be replaced with tolerance and respect when intelligence is applied as opposed to just following our emotions.
In areas of extreme poverty, peace must be the goal at all times because without it the opportunity to help others learn to help themselves is not a realistic possibility. You cannot improve farming techniques if your fields are filled with landmines. You cannot educate your children if your son is forced into the militia to kill other young boys or your daughter is abducted by human traffickers and forced into prostitution. You cannot hope to vaccinate millions of infants if the endless fighting includes killing medical personnel who are simply trying to save as many lives as they can. Peace has to be the end result of all our efforts to combat desperation and hopelessness. Until the world accepts and understands the invaluable significance of this condition we cannot make areas of poverty safe for the one billion men, women and children who live at the edge of disaster every day of their lives…We must be the ones who make peace the priority of the human race. We must be the ones who value life over death no matter what else might be at stake. We must be the ones who are willing to stand up for the right of all people everywhere to live without the threat of armed conflict tearing their lives apart. We must be the ones who demonstrate that peace is a state of mind that allows a defenseless child the opportunity to live without the fear of death haunting their every waking moment.
PEACE IS SIMPLY THE RESULT OF UNDERSTANDING.