The quest for peace has been a long and arduous one. Generations of critical thinkers have desired this elusive goal. It started with ending war torn strife to evolve into a more individualistic concept.
Peace is no longer manifested as a state of no war but simply as a sense of well-being and prosperity. It may hold different ideas in different minds but what it essentially asks for, is a freedom to live one’s life as one intends and to provide for a fair degree of tolerance. In the current global context, both the traditional and contemporary ideas of peace are abysmally represented.
Whether it is the violent deaths in the Boko Haram insurgency of Africa, the Civil War in Syria or South Sudan, war continues to strike fear in the hearts of millions across the globe. Warfare progresses unabated as nations continue pouring millions into the bottomless pit of defence budgets.
I can’t help but remember Liam O’Flaherty’s short story, The Sniper, which poignantly describes the plight of an assassin who unknowingly murdered his own brother in the war. While, all foot soldiers may not encounter their kin on the battlefield, the symbolic reference of how they eventually murder their own brothers, highlighting the futility of war, is not lost on the reader. The very essence of humanity recognizes an international brotherhood which transcends all barriers of caste, creed, colour and nationality.
If our military conquests were not enough, our daily lives are the proverbial last straw, breaking the camel’s back. These are times when the colour of your skin will dictate your position in life and your sexual orientation will lead to your permanent social ostracization. Prejudice against women in all spheres of life continues to thrive. Unorthodox lifestyle choices are condemned and often ridiculed. Traditional social perceptions are still of paramount importance dictating strict adherence to anarchic standards. Not all wars are fought on the battlefield; some are waged on far more familiar turf. Little Jeff makes his way to school; armed not with rifles and guns, but still struggling to stay afloat in a sea of vicious bullies. Chen reaches work each morning, trying not to wince at the shameless ogling and acidic barbs that accompany being the only female executive. Andrei hopes to become a professional singer but hesitates in telling his father that soccer is no longer his dream. The fact that Jeff, Chen and Andrei continue to wither away is testimony to peace and tolerance being a distant dream. The essential premise to the concept of peace is to achieve a spirit of cohesion and peaceful co-existence, each one making a conscious effort to accept each other’s choices as long as they do not interfere with the personal freedom of another. If some semblance of this tolerance is achieved, we will all lead more fulfilling lives.
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