|The Balance of Peace (Dayal de Prewitt A. 2012)|
Today peace-builders are looking for the most apt definition of peace. We know that peace is not merely the absence of war, it is way beyond that. Peace can be defined both at societal and individual level. It can be an environmental condition or state of mind or a combination of both.
Different people define and attain peace in different ways. In India, for thousands of year 'sadhus' (sages) migrate to Himalayas to search for peace and enlightenment. Others spend time in religious activities to achieve peace. Sadly, some engage in violence to look for peace. For many, simply spending time with dear ones or relaxation can be peaceful.
No matter how we understand peace and how we choose to achieve it, there are some factors that will affect that process. These can be internal and external factors as shown in the illustration above.
As a result of interactions with several people in different parts of the world, I have gathered that forgiveness plays the most important role in inner peace. However, sometimes forgiveness alone cannot resolve ongoing situation. For example, for a rape victim the act of forgiveness can bring peace in her/his heart, whereas another victim may require a combination of justice, support and forgiveness to be able to embrace sustainable peace.
In case of oppression, justice is essential to achieve peace. Justice can also be perceptual, therefore it must be defined by the oppressed not by others. Although justice for peace must break the chain of violence. However, it is important to note that revenge sometimes can be misconstrued as justice.
Developing and focusing on relationship with inner self and/or God can help see the bigger picture and the greater good. Spirituality helps to look at the immaterial things and justice beyond this world and the current life. It can help germinate the seeds of hope and lead a life towards peace. Spirituality strives for oneness with the creator/universe and usually goes beyond religious rituals and differences.
Peace requires both decision and action, which can be facilitated by support of others. Support from family and friends can bring peaceful showers on a person's heart. Guilt is an enemy of peace and it can be eventually eliminated through validation from others. Just sharing laughters, meals and even pain with dear ones can make place for peace. Support from others is as important as supporting others. Peace derived from serving is divine peace!
In hindi, there is a saying, 'Bhuke pet bhajan na hoye Gopala', meaning with a hungry stomach it is difficult to even worship God. Economy plays an important role in attainment of peace. If people are constantly worried and struggling for their meals, homes, and other basic needs, peace talks can be ineffective as well as useless. This is where the role of state comes in the picture of peace. Job opportunities, means to meet basic needs have a direct connection with peace.
Contentment or feeling of satisfaction with life is also an important factor related to achieving peace. One may not be oppressed and be economically well but if he/she is not content from within, it may hinder peace. A healthy and positive perspective towards life and supportive society is critical for peace to take birth and grow in a balanced way.