Much as conflict and war, peace is one of the most debated subjects in the social arena. Ranging from the total cessation of violence or conflict in the Western thought to the balance of harmony and needs of Eastern thought, peace is a principal that often sits in opposition to chaos, violence, and strife. In many ways, like so many other social ideals, it is a matter of perspective and the creation of a personal social reality. There are those who would say that lasting peace is impossible, that pacifism and non-violence are simply illusions of the weak. These same claim that peace is simply the lull between conflicts.
Walking the path of peace is often difficult, ending tragically. Dr. King lost his life for it. Ghandi gave his very vital essence to cement his views on non-violence. In each case though, it was not a matter of non-conflict but a matter of non-violence. In a world where needs and wants are weighed against the available resources, the first few steps towards a lasting peace are to resolve these conflicts in a non-violent manner, without the normal level of death and strife we see in daily struggles.
Marx as well as other conflict theorists during the latter part of the 19th and the early part of the 20th century spoke of the reduction of conflict by equalizing markets. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need was supposed to be a clarion call for a utopian society where every man was equal. Unfortunately, as with all conflict, the concepts of need and ability are fluid and given to self-definition.
The failure of this proposed utopian society, especially after decades of Cold War, made peace seem virtually impossible. Still, there were those who stood and said, “We can solve our differences without war.” Diplomacy became the language of the seeker of peace.
Inevitably though, conflict and war come. We are animals, given to flights of violence and primal wants. Transcending that, being able to conceptualize the unknown, to dream, to seek peace is what separates us from the other animals on the planet. Conflict exists. The struggle for finite resources grows even more dangerous in a world that grows smaller and smaller to the eyes of its inhabitants. Through it all though, there are still those who try to walk the path of peace, finding a compromise between struggles. How a person approaches that conflict will determine their perspective on peace.