Creating a culture of Peace

Since wars began in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed. (UNESCO constitutional principle)

Literally millions of people are already working for peace, peace at home and peace in the world. Still, peace is an internal reality within many people, maybe a local reality in isolated places in the world, but it's not a global reality yet, far from it.

We need millions more of peace-workers, working on inner-peace so that they create patches of peaceful localities, steadily growing and joining with neighboring areas of peace. Then one day, hopefully soon, global peace should become a reality.

The millions of peace enablers have coalesced into a multitude of organizations, not least of which is the UNESCO Towards a Culture of Peace programme.

As stated above, war starts in the diseased mind of men. We really need to have a good look at ourselves and see the amount of hatred, resentment, prejudice, judgmental attitude is lurking within us. Speaking of prejudice, allow me to affirm that there is no culture in the world, no country, no religious or ethnical group, etc... that doesn't have its own group of peace enablers. Regardless of what some mainstream media would like us to believe, people who may not share your faith are also working for peace and promotting policies for peace. There exist many interfaith cooperation initiatives. Pick one you like and actively contribute to it.

Peace must be gained on every front, starting from within our hearts, then in the local and national level, up to point when we can achieve global peace. Just like the US politician Dennis Kucinich sponsored bill to establish a Department of Peace and Nonviolence proposes, peace must be nurtured in every aspect of our lives:

  • Peace in our homes: prevention of spousal abuse, child abuse, and mistreatment of the elderly;
  • Peace in our schools: prevention of youth and gang violence;
  • Peace in our streets: prevention of racial and ethnic violence and violence against gays and lesbians, reducing the causes of violent responses by police, and work on criminal justice reform;
  • Peace in the media: studying the role of the media in the escalation and de-escalation of domestic and international conflict; and
  • Peace in our hearts: fostering a culture of peace by actively injecting consideration of peace and nonviolence into civic life.

Importantly, too, Peace can only be achieved by bridging the gap of understanding that separates some communities and some people. It's easy to feel peaceful with your date when they return your amorous kisses; it's not so easy to maintain a peaceful relationship with the spouse you've been living for the last 15 years (or 5 or 30...). It's easy to feel peaceful when going out with some buddies who have the same interests as you do; it's not so easy to cultivate the same feeling with people who have a different set of belief, faith, interest, etc... Yet, our 'ennemies', public or private are the very people towards whom we most need to cultivate a benign attitude. And again, millions of people are working diligently towards that very goal. As an example, imagine what a peaceful Middle East could be made possible, and consider that it is a very possible reality. Similarly, wherever we hail from, we need to forgive people who have hurt us and learn to see their loving side so that next time we meet them face to face, we can do so from a more peaceful a priori.

We only need to add millions of peace enablers to the existing millions. That means they need me, too. And you.

The task seems so gargantuan as to be daunting, but I wouldn't be the first to emphasize that though building a culture of peace is an ambitious project, it is within everyone's reach.

Simply put, we have to start with ourselves. By this I mean that I have to start with myself, and I shall let you, dear reader, deal with yourself!

Each one of us have to think for ourselves what we can do towards creating that Culture of Peace we all dream of.

Before parting, I'd like to quote the Manifesto 2000 for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence written by the Nobel Prize Peace Laureates. The goal is to nurture a sense of responsibility starting on a personal level; it is not an appeal or petition addressed to a higher authority. It is the responsibility of each and every individual to put into practice the values, attitudes and forms of behaviour which inspire the culture of peace. Everyone can contribute to this aim within their family, their area, their town, their region and their country by promoting non-violence, tolerance, dialogue, reconciliation, justice and solidarity on a daily basis.

  1. Respect all life. Respect the life and dignity of each human being without discrimination and prejudice.
  2. Reject violence. Practice active non-violence, rejecting violence in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological, economical and social, in particular towards the most deprived and vulnerable such as children and adolescents.
  3. Share with others. Share my time and material resources in a spirit of generosity to put an end to exclusion, injustice and political and economic oppression.
  4. Listen to understand. Defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to dialogue and listening without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others.
  5. Preserve the planet. Promote consumer behaviour that is responsible and development practices that respect all forms of life and preserve the balance of nature on the planet.
  6. Rediscover solidarity. Contribute to the development of my community, with the full participation of women and respect for democratic principles, in order to create together new forms of solidarity.

See also: , .