Living together in peace

If people get along, states can too

It is the desire of every sane individual to live in a world of peace, solidarity and harmony. A world where everyone can live peacefully with prestige and integrity. A world where individuals can live without the discrimination of caste, colour and creed and everyone is free to live his life according to his religion or culture.

A world where acceptance and understanding are the basis of every transaction, be it social, political or religious. A world where having an opinion is not a crime and where social, political and religious affiliations do not make individuals vulnerable or in another context, biased, extreme or irreconcilable. And a world where women are given complete freedom, liberty and equal rights.

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But are we even near to a peaceful and harmonious world desired above? The answer is a big “NO” and surprisingly not we all know that very well. The reason is that bringing peace has only been the domain of the states since their birth. And for the states, peace is not always the priority as they have their own objectives.

Since the devastation of World War II, the world has been saved from another deadly war by joint effort, especially through the platform of the United Nations. The UN is duly credited for saving the world from World War 3. The UN, through its initiative, has tried to bring peace and stability to the world. But the interests of the nation-states have always hindered the process.

Despite the work the UN has done for the betterment of this world, if the people are still begging for peace 76 years after its inception, then there is something wrong that needs to be identified and rectified.

On the other hand, every culture, religion and political ideology has something to offer to humankind. To raise their voices for peace, people don’t need to export or import some other religion or ideology. They just need to raise their voice. It will give rise to a universal culture of peace that will have tolerance, acceptance and inclusivity.

For example, allied states of Ukraine are providing billions of dollars in aid while Russia is on the offensive. The actual battle is between the two superpowers Russia and the USA. So, a powerful state can threaten a weak state at will. The weak states have two options: a) become powerful, and b) hide behind the powerful. All this happens because being powerful is the ultimate goal of every state for several reasons:

a)to achieve its objectives, b) to fight its enemy, and c) to protect itself from any oppression.

Providing aid to Ukraine after the Russian offensive is like letting a well-built house be destroyed and then rebuilding it by depriving all those who even don’t have shelter. This is what  the superpowers have been doing.

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Coming back to the example of aid to Ukraine, one can safely say that had the two superpowers not been in a tussle with each other, the amount of aid being poured in would have helped in reducing poverty, eliminating diseases and bettering healthcare and education facilities where needed and in helping those who are battling the scourge of terrorism and extremism, among other things

But, the current power dynamics in the world are only forcing states to achieve more power with time, and be the ultimate power at the world level or among the neighbouring states in a particular geography.

It is hard to think of states which are in a continuous battle with each other, be it in the fields of technology, defence or infrastructure, which will find time to work for peace in the world and that too jointly.

Similarly, if states somehow join hands to achieve peace but ignore the fact that achieving peace demands inclusivity and it is hard to think of peace if those people are ignored and left behind who have been looking for peace and justice for years.

The state can’t achieve peace or stay peaceful if it is witnessing injustice somewhere and staying quiet. But, states do stay quiet because they have to pursue their interests as it is said that it is the interests that matter to the states.

The United Nations observed the “International Day of Living Together in Peace ” on May 16. The rationale behind observing this day is defined as “living together in peace is all about accepting differences and having the ability to listen to, recognise, respect and appreciate others, as well as living in a peaceful and united way and “as a means of regularly mobilizing the efforts of the international community to promote peace, tolerance inclusion, understanding and solidarity.

But despite these initiatives and efforts, we don’t see an urge in the international community to intensify their efforts for peace, tolerance and inclusivity.

The reason is that the efforts for peace have remained the monopoly of the states who have used it according to their need as peace is not always in the interest of a state.

This has to change. The efforts for peace and tolerance has to be from the people that should force the states to follow their demand.

“Living together in peace” as a concept has to nourish and evolve from people. People from all over the world who are prejudice-free and want peace in the world have to play their part.

For example, if a state invades another state or supports oppression in another country. The first resistance has to be from the people of that state and then the rest of the world.

If we have to live together in peace, we have to create a generation of peace through education for everyone in the world. Otherwise, every other initiative will be symbolic and lack productivity.

Almost all of the wars that have taken place in the world have one common motive in them. That is to force the other side to accept the domination and superiority be it religious, political, social or cultural. But, the time has changed. We are living in an era where to win people it is not necessary to fight with them. That political ideology, religion or culture will prevail which offers the best to humankind. This is what states have to learn.

On the other hand, every culture, religion and political ideology has something to offer to humankind. To raise their voices for peace, people don’t need to export or import some other religion or ideology. They just need to raise their voice. It will give rise to a universal culture of peace that will have tolerance, acceptance and inclusivity.

Muhammad Ali Alvi
The writer is freelance columnist

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