What Is Peace?

Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding. You cannot subjugate a nation forcibly unless you wipe out every man, woman, and child. Unless you wish to use such drastic measures, you must find a way of settling your disputes without resort to arms.

- Albert Einstein, in a speech to the New History Society (14 December 1930)

Podcast of the Day

World peace is out of fashion: not even pacifists believe in it nowadays, wrote Susan Sontag. Yet a series of recent UN reviews came to the conclusion that peace is fundamental to the achievement of other goals. The peace imperative was recognised by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which call for peaceful and inclusive societies. This talk examines the challenges that make world peace so difficult, considers past efforts and ideas, and introduces some tangible steps that can be taken to better organise the world for peace.

Listen to Alex Bellamy's talk: How can world peace be organized?

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...In “Nonviolence: more than the absence of violence” from Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies, Jorgen Johansen notes a simple yet significant problem when approaching the subject of peace: peace does not receive a lot of attention, violence does. Violence gets noticed, it leads the news, it makes people talk. Peace is boring. It isn’t sexy and sexy sells.

Part of this lack of attention towards peace comes because of the difficulty of defining peace. We all know violence and its reality, but peace...well, peace seems too perfect and perhaps too impossible to reach. Despite this idea of peace as perfection, we have general knowledge of what “peace” is because we use the term in everyday language, for example, when we mention “peace of mind” or needing “peace and quiet.” These phrases tell us that peace is a state in which we have calmness and balance, a state in which we exist away from conflict or disruption. Having “peace of mind” or “peace and quiet” communicates assurance, stability, and quiet plus something more.

How might we discuss this concept that seems perfect and impossible, yet is sought out and desired?...

Continue reading Alexandra Nicewicz Carroll's article: Let's Talk About Peace

Further Reading

...Generally pacifism is thought to be a principled rejection of war and killing. Oddly enough, the term pacifism has occasionally been used to describe a pragmatic commitment to using war to create peace. Thus some who called themselves “pacifists” (for example, during the First World War) supported war as a suitable means toward peace. Richard Nixon once called himself a pacifist, even as he continued to support the Vietnam War. This perverse use of pacifism is connected to the way a term like “pacification” can be employed in military usage to describe a violent process of suppressing violence, as when an enemy territory is “pacified” by killing or disabling the enemy. While George Orwell and others have complained about such euphemistic descriptions of violence, the just war tradition does hold that war can be a suitable means to bring about peace. Despite these complications, pacifism generally connotes a commitment to making peace that rejects violent means for obtaining this end. One reason to reject violent means is the fact that might does not make right. While violence can destroy an enemy, victory does not amount to justification.

Pacifism, as it is understood in ordinary discourse today, includes a variety of commitments on a continuum from an absolute adherence to nonviolence in all actions to a more focused or minimal sort of anti-warism...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Pacifism by Andrew Fiala

Related Topics

 Empathy | Toleration | Violence | War

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