As I browse through my news feed on Facebook, I notice that I would often headline find negative headlines formation of military alliances, aggression and nuclear threats, distress and disagreements among nations. Is this really the world we live in today?
And then I begin to question some more. Can peace be truly attained in such a chaotic world?
Over the centuries, our history books can attest to the numerous attempts of man in his endeavour to achieve and attain peace. For instance, the League of Nations was established based on a common understanding of the nations on the repercussions brought about by wars. Though it had some successes to certain extents; it was generally a failure. There was a number of reasons why it failed, yet the core reason supposedly lay in the nature of man.
The League of Nations was an attempt to create a normative framework on the nature of man’s survival in life. To constrain and establish a stereotype that goes against the free spirit of man, would, indeed, be an absurd and futile attempt. Yet, on the other hand, foolish as this proposal may have seemed to be, this inadvertently also brings us to view the innate desire of man to attain something ideal and drawn from a utopian vision: peace.
Although our world may seem to be plagued with distress and conflicts, man continues to strive in attaining peace. Nations create deals, treaties, agreements, resolutions and other international documents towards each other in order to pave the road to peace. Yet, as we stripped it off of its idealist nature, we are faced with the reality that these are just pieces of paper. True, it may represent a mutual understanding over matters demanding consensus, but it is, still, a piece of paper.
What about the individual? Man would often resort to ways that is often acquainted with happiness, prosperity and success, for these, in effect, are the impetus to attaining peace. To be happy means to be free from anxiety and problems in life: thus, allowing you to have peace. To be prosperous allows you to buy all the good things in life: thus, allowing you to have peace. Achieving success in life enables you to have a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction: thus, allowing you to have peace. Yet a common denominator exists among these three avenues to peace: they are all fleeting. These are what the world offers to man for these are what defines the peace that exists in the world and these are the very reasons why man fails to achieve peace. Why? Because we fail to understand the peace that we are searching for, the essence of what it truly is to have peace.
Given all these, the question remains: “So, how can I attain peace?”
We need to understand that peace is not a one-sided concept that solely exists for the individual. Reciprocity and mutuality must exist among ourselves for peace to be fully realized. The method by which the world strives in its pursuit for peace is twisted and chaotic. Violence among ourselves should never be our first nor last resort to solve our differences.
As I end, I’d like to share a quote from Saint Pope John Paul II: “Let us not accept violence as the way of peace. Let us instead begin by respecting true freedom: the resulting peace will be able to satisfy the world’s expectations, for it will be a peace built on justice, a peace founded on the incomparable dignity of the free human being.”
By Matthew Poblete, current intern at the WYA Asia Pacific office. Man and his struggle for peace is one of the topics discussed in the chapter on Human Dignity of our Track A Training. Meanwhile, freedom is discussed as a separate chapter in the training. To learn more about the Track A, click here.