“The right to peace” is the theme for this year’s International Day of Peace – September 21st 2018.
I think there are lots of things, besides only peace, that we
should have a right to.
We’re born into a world governed by a system that was gradually put in place by people before us; we had no say in this. This system is perpetually maintained and meddled with by other people who otherwise (and generally) have nothing to do with us, again I believe we have no say in this; to say we have a say in it, I believe, is a delusion, which is why I choose not to vote (that and I see little benefit to me in voting in one person/party over another and the majority of people live differently to me, so their voting will sway the vote the way they wish it to regardless).
As an example, if a police officer stops me in the street and asks me for some ID, for whatever reason, why does he or she hold this authority over me? They were born into this world as equal as myself. I should have the choice, or freedom, to live how I want, to present ID if I wish, or not, or to not even be asked for it in the first place.
The argument would be that such a system is there for the benefit of all, and that me being asked for ID (as per the example) might be for a serious reason, such as “the heightened threat of terrorism”.
If I live in a world of peace, and I like to think I do, then in my world there is no terrorism, and therefore no threat, and thus no reason for me to be asked for ID (if that be the reason).
Peace, you see, (or as I’m trying to illustrate) goes a lot further than simply “no more wars”.
Peace is about living peacefully. If peace truly existed (I say if because it obviously doesn’t, since there needs to be a Day for it), then there would be an automatic bias towards it, a mutual trust if you will, a belief that everyone else was also also living peacefully, and therefore no more “threat of this or that” and therefore no more asking for ID on the streets. To ask for ID is a mark of distrust, an accusation, an illustration that the person asking for it lives in a world without peace, a world that I don’t want to be a part of. Awkwardly, the peaceful outcome of such a request would be for me to peacefully hand over my ID, but contradictory that goes against the grain of the peaceful world I [seek to] live in.
Living where I do in the UK I feel like I have a lot of freedom, but I also see that there is not as much as there could be, certainly not as much as people might think there is, and likely not as much as I think also. In a previous post (about the freedom to wear a burka) I used The Naked Rambler as an example and I think he is as fitting here also; Stephen Gough spent years in prison for exercising his freedom which in his world is the right to choose whether to wear clothes or not. It’s not the act of not wearing clothes that he argues for, but what they and all the other forms of conformity, rules and laws represent. I should be able to live as free as I want (I could say I choose to wear clothes, but why do I choose that?) since I should be as equal to anyone else (anyone, that is, who has placed themselves, or been placed, in a position seen by them and the system to be above me); this should be my right, therefore I have the right to live as free as I want, I
should have a right to peace and so should do you.
I have often thought that if we studied peace as often as we study war, the world would be very different. Bradford University offer a degree in Peace Studies
and Quakers offer courses in peace and reconciliation, but these things are not widely studied, nor are they on any state school curriculum that I know of. By the time we get to a state of war it usually seems that there is no alternative; thus I think the Second World War could not have been avoided. That is to say, it could not have been avoided in 1939. But it might have been avoided in 1929 or 1922 or even 1933, had the victors in WW1 behaved differently towards Germany.
I hold no such belief about any wars we’ve been involved in since then, as I believe none of them was inevitable. But if populations studied peace the picture would look very different.
Incidentally (I don’t know if I told you this before) I once heard that the naked rambler came to a Quaker meeting. He sat down and at one point stood up and said, ‘I feel I am about to roar’…
I agree; it’s a stark reality where the news is often full of negativity (non-peace), until the last ‘happy’ segment that they feel obliged to include.
There is unbalanced risk between more trust (peace) and less trust (war).
Let’s say “0” marks an equal state between two people. Zero represents an acceptance of neither great trust nor great mistrust. Both of these people expect the other to behave agnostically toward themselves.
Add one degree of trust to the relationship — what do you get? Not much.
Add one degree of mistrust, the threat of minor theft let say, now what do you get? The risk of minor theft is much greater than the promise of greater agreeability.
The benefits of perfect trust, economically, culturally, and spiritually can never balance the risks of utter mistrust.
The threat of death to you and your family & friends, that is, utter mistrust, exceeds by huge margins the benefits one might get through total peace.
Your premise suffers from the equality of demographics bias. Psychopaths, sociopaths exist in cultures. Statistically this cannot be helped. People of IQ’s less than 85 exist — 15% of the population or so. Such people may be incapable of evaluating peaceful actions vs threatening actions. Differences in people’s psyches and abilities force the creation of societies rules. Some of which may appear (do appear) oppressive.
Plus, if someone can profit from distrust, or a greater level of distrust, from say, supplying security systems or armaments for all out war… then you have an incentive to encourage greater distrust.
It’s always a shame when a minority, such as the case of psychopaths and sociopaths as you suggest, can cause such a reaction… a reaction which as per my previous point probably outweighs the threat. If the world was a more peaceful place then perhaps that would itself cause fewer people to develop psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies. I wonder if people pulling the strings have such tendencies.
No doubt you’ve touched upon the feedback loop of social stability: worse begets worse, better begets better.
Steven Pinker has shown that the world has indeed become more peaceful over the centuries (and only dipped the other way in recent years). And with that “better world” phenomena we’ve entered into a heightened sense of threat for less threatening issues. “Don’t let Johnny out to play without a chaperone.” Even though the threat of abduction is so slight that the negative impact of protecting Johnny so tightly now may severely impact his psychological well being.
“Cover your eyes children, there’s a homeless person.” “How dare you use that language in front of my child!” “The monkey bars are too dangerous, just use the swing set — and not too high.”