“We the Peoples of the United Nations Determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom..” Preamble of the UN Charter, signed on 26 June 1945.
Human history, for which records are available, is full of fact and fiction of wars and conflicts, all undertaken and waged supposedly in pursuit of peace and prosperity. Countries, time and again, went to wars and engaged in conflicts in the name of peace and progress for their citizens, but all the time based on ideologies, religion, territory, just greed of power and pelf. Even Genghis Khan had said that he wanted to conquer the whole world by war so that peace would prevail over everywhere under (his) one rule.
Finally, it seems that everyone is trying hard to achieve peace in the world at any cost and end up creating unending localised conflicts to large scale terrorist attacks and what is termed sometimes as “clash of civilization” as we witness now today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is peace such a precious thing or an invaluable thing that it is very difficult to find in the world?
Is peace an easy thing to get as we please? Today everyone is longing for peace, because we realise that without peace we can not strive to achieve our life’s ambitions, nor can we keep and sustain with what we already have. Do we really understand internally what the true nature of peace and harmony is? It is not the absence of conflict and strife.
Peace is in a way a unique state of being, both as in the individual state of well-being and as members of the collective world comprising of societies, groups, communities, races, and nations.
Do we really know what a peaceful and happy life really is? Even when we have all the success, fame and money, and the good health to enjoy it – are we really peaceful, happy and fulfilled? Why is it that we all find ourselves seeking something more from life – all the time? Now, modern sages point out that each one of us, at some time or the other, has a taste of what that is: a kind of sublime experience of peace and harmony. They promise how we can achieve this constant repose in our ordinary, hectic, daily living. This seeking or longing in life is often seen by the Eastern thinkers and philosophers as the natural state of human beings – most evidently, the spiritual seeking – and should be nurtured by our daily life activities anchored on self-love and love and respect for fellow beings.
A simple examination of one’s personal experience will reveal that what usually disrupts the peace and harmony in life is a thought about something we think we – or someone else – should or shouldn’t have done. Because of this involuntary reflective and reactive habit, a massive load of guilt and shame of oneself, or hatred and malice for the other, is perpetuated. Some of us don’t know this is happening and we feel we are helpless.
With some honest and silent introspection and some simple self-inquiry into one’s own experience, it is possible to get relief from this bondage of guilt, hurt and malaise. What mystics have said for ages is here viewed from the perspective of modern living: those actions are ‘happenings’ and not something done by someone. And it is possible to stop, think and understand possible consequences of our intended action(s), and choose our action options. This is the gift and art of choosing human beings are endowed with. This understanding about our “skill in action” – simply put: to act, not to act or to act differently – is what actually contributes to and helps us in discovering the state of equanimity and peace which we most ardently seek.
Problem of Peace
Tension, depression, anxieties, fear and other (negative) thoughts seem a daily occurrence with peace and harmony out of reach. Peace is not exclusively an individual property. Peace is an interrelated experience as everyone is directly or indirectly inter-dependent in the society and their collective consciousness and behaviours; and this positive experience has to be nurtured and sustained to ensure societal and individual order and kinship around.
Even though one carries out his/her everyday affairs and feel satisfied, he/she may still be affected by the problems of the society created by some with or without their knowledge. Here we try and seek asylum in Religion, Nature, Yoga, Meditation, Music, Dance and Painting as a sort of diversion from the routine works to get peace of mind. There are many people who are probably well off and got used to living without peace, not knowing the reason, but hoping they can obtain peace and harmony with their wealth and plastic cards. There are others who believe that by meditation they can calm down the mind and try to maintain mental poise.
The key to the problem is to know the real cause and understand its roots, so a suitable solution can be analysed and found, and then work out a path toward peaceful state of being. The real problem is simple: we are not satisfied with ourselves and feel we are incomplete all the time.
There are others who think that everyone is born to suffer in the world and that death only puts an end to all sufferings bringing peace one longs for at the end. Therefore one is fated to do one’s duties and fulfil commitments, believing one’s religion (God) will open the gateway to heaven or hell depending upon one’s believe system based on good or bad acts. All in all, we have long been totally brain-washed into believing and accepting that without suffering bliss cannot be enjoyed. Here again, we forget that the act of “believing” is a kind of judgment we make before testing it for verification. Going to heaven or hell becomes a kind of one-way ticket tourism; so much as no one has come back to tell how the heaven or hell looks or feels like.
With 24×7 world TV news channels, easy Internet access and media, we continue to feed ourselves of problems everywhere; often believing or accepting only violence and unlawful actions can bring justice to situations of inequity, end discrimination and denial of basic human rights in one form or another. TV and media focusing on the positive human developmental issues have few viewers as they are seen dull affairs.
Threats to Peace
Of all the threats, the most unfortunate proliferation of terrorism for the past two decades or so was the instrument of religious fundamentalism destroying the developments of the civilized world along with the innocent civilians. This is of course the biggest threat to world peace and also a great impediment for a better tomorrow. Because of its reach and its ability to operate (even remotely) with impunity beyond the geographical boundaries, terrorism is the Number One enemy of peace, stability and progress of the world. So, the main duty of every nation now is to put a permanent end to terrorism by the joint efforts among all nations, at any cost. Advanced technologies of all sorts should not be spared to prevent terrorist attacks, while at the same continuing dialogues should be permanently in place between leaders at all levels and in all groups (political, religious, ideological, etc.) to eliminate the root causes of such violent acts by removing all kinds of inequities and injustices, real or imagined.
Search for Peace
In the modern world where human advances or progress of nations are measured in terms of economic prosperity, trade surplus, level of FX reserves and needless comparison of the economic achievements between the so called developed countries and developing/emerging nations, where is the place and time for engendering love, affection, respect, care and share?
Once arrived at the top of the heap, there seems no where to go; so plan going to the Himalayas to find the ever-elusive peace, or engage more in the mindless competition based on greed and vanity. It can only lead an individual to a deep feeling of frustration, isolation and feeling alone in a crowd, and it can drive society or a country into amassing more of the same, more possessions in whatever form – useful or useless, power, pelf and over-lordship. Haven’t we heard of the successful people such as actors, princesses, musicians, authors, tycoons, etc. led to needless mental suffering, sometimes driven to the extent of committing suicides or getting killed mysteriously in their pursuits of peace in themselves and in the world.
When we have individuals and societies in constant turmoil – both mentally and in their relationships – what happens to our habitat and this planet, is not far to imagine and understand. Absence of cooperation, environmental pollution, green-house gas emissions, climate changes bringing unseasonal rains, floods, draught, wasting earth resources; are but a few of uninvited guests to feed the human greed and vanity resulting in conflicts big and small; localised, nationalised, regionalised or even globalised.
Such a situation impact on young people too, exposed to the modern world of machines and competitions, ending in continuing depression, unable to cope with the tensions building up internally, due to factors beyond their control. Some become drug addicts and/or taken to all kinds of anti-social activities. These disillusioned youths become an unwanted burden on society and the country as a whole unless and until we have efficient and reliable institutional arrangements to help rehabilitate these groups before it is too late. Unattended individual problems of depression and delusion could snowball into large scale disruptions to and attacks on the peace, harmony and well-being of the people at large.
Way to Achieve Peace
In the search for peace and with all our limitations, imperfections and incompleteness, how can we achieve peace permanently in this ephemeral world? There may be some truth in this statement; but to accept it will amount to needless despair and forlorn when nature has endowed mankind with the intelligence and faculty of choice. It is better to accept and recognise the reality or fact than worrying about the impossible things. So, with all the limitations of man, what best one can do: here must our conscious efforts be focused to understanding the state of our being, available situation, find about the choices and proceed in life with the available options, opportunities and strategies to make this world a better place to live in.
It is here, it is important to use the knowledge of religious teachings and traditions to our advantage. All these traditions at the very fundamental level teach only one thing in simple words: “love thy neighbour as you do yourself ”; or like what your New Age son or grandson says to you when you deal with him: “Hi! (grand) dad, give me space…OK”.
In essence, what is required is our attitude and behaviour that can accommodate the differences and our innate elegance and serenity to accept the reality and allow people to flourish and build a society, community and nation based on common goals, but space for and tolerant of different possible ways and approaches.
True Knowledge and Real Education Needed for Peace
Failures and successes are common in life. But that does not have to come in the way of achieving peace and harmony. Research has shown time and again that happiness, joy and peace have nothing to do with acquiring something liked, or getting rid of thing(s) not liked. Those who watched Charlie Chaplin movies of the yore will tell you how they felt so light hearted and used to laugh away again and again all the worries in the world. Just think what happens at these times:
our own inner-self understands that it is not necessary to acquire or possess something to be happy; in fact, we need not have anything to be happy because happiness and joy are just part of our being.
This kind of wisdom should dawn upon everyone’s mind so that a collective consciousness can emerge to make this world Heaven on Earth.
The UN and Peace?
What it has done since its inception some 60+ years ago is there for all to see. It is possible to claim credit for the prevention of Third World War. Also, happily, a good amount of useful contribution to human development through its socio-economic developmental funds, programmes and agencies. Agencies for international standards in civil aviation, meteorology, labour practices, telecommunication standards, etc. must have come with or without UN.
However, as a political UN it can ONLY claim dubious distinction of doing enough dis-service to environment inter alia cutting trees and producing millions or billions pages of useless documents; emitting unwanted gases into the atmosphere by endless useless talks and debates; wasting global tax-payers money on wasteful projects and self-promotions; the most recent waste is the reformed UN Internal Justice system, where one can never expect to receive any real justice, while the bureaucrats could claim everything to feed their super-egos.
The UN can also claim to advocate the “rule of law” without practising it at home!
As the only world organisation, encompassing all countries large, small and tiny island nations, the UN should in fact be the “lead-from-the-front” face of a true New World Order, if there was and is a global commitment to do so.
The ever first and foremost task of the UN should always be ensuring human values and dignity as envisioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Apart from all socio-economic-political acts of commission and commission, the educational institutions everywhere should be introduced to the overall view of human life, in the context of UDHR and how each individual – be a child, student, adult and elderly – has the right to visualize what plan of life they could have and accordingly they can live their life to their best without fear, anxiety and injustice in different situations and circumstances, not just for their own sake and satisfaction, but also contributing to human evolution based on peace and harmony at all times.
The 21st century vision of the world leaders should become realistic in knowing full well that conflicts and confusion serve no purpose; only a world united in cooperation and coordination for developmental activities in various fields on the basis of friendship, caring and sharing resources could make this planet liveable for the long haul. Without peace and harmony no human progress and socio-economic development is possible.
Thus, the Minimum UN Goals Should be:
- RECOGNISE that wars cannot solve the problems but only through dialogues and accommodation it is possible to turn towards peace.
- END confrontational diplomacy, branding some as pariah nations; instead engage in ways and means of reducing trust deficit and finding common ground for acceptable solutions in situations like Iran, North Korea and Israeli-Palestinian endless destructive game.
- FOCUS efforts of the international community to have agreement(s) in the areas of Human Rights Violation, Climate Change, Nuclear Non-proliferation, Comprehensive Test Ban of Nuclear Explosions and Destruction of Weapons of Mass Destruction in a non-discriminatory manner; every single country in the world is important for the promotion of peace and harmony in the world.
- ELIMINATE poverty and eradicate diseases and prevent needless deaths; ensure each human, be a child or adult or elderly has access to health, food security, education, information, social services and human dignity.
- SPREAD technological advancements to reach every nook and corner of the world and enable every single individual to benefit from technology.
- Lectures by Swami Dayananda Saraswati of India on intelligent living and freedom from sadness.
- Ted Talks on the You Tube.
V. Muthuswami, Chennai, India.
UN Retiree Activist Group striving for justice in the UN.
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