Why I Believe Peace Is The Only Solution
I remember being in college, and a friend of mine was giving her thesis for her honors project. We were in a small hall with dozens of people in the crowd, and I was amongst them. In the beginning of her lecture, she asked “Who here wants world peace?”
Everybody raised their hand.
I think it’s a nice, idealistic idea – and one that I personally strive towards – however, if I am being honest with the current state of affairs, I know that not everybody wants peace. Not even the majority of people want peace.
Peace is a radical concept. Peace is the idea of nonviolence, of no hatred, of no ill will towards anybody.
In our world, there is hatred everywhere. Hatred exists in the hearts of everybody. It happens on huge global scales, such as war and police brutality. But it also exists on much smaller scales. When people do something horrible to us, we seek out revenge. We get angry at the person who takes a rude tone with us, or the people who cut us off in traffic.
We always believe that we are the good guy, and that the other person is the bad guy. And with this mentality, there can never be peace.
The concept of peace is a radical one. Many people throughout history have introduced peace, and they were met with violence and uproar.
Jesus Christ was one of the biggest advocates of peace and nonviolence. Regardless of whether you are a Christian, he had some of the most interesting points to make about the ideas of peace. Back in his day, everybody was living in a world of violence, and war, and Jesus came in, and made a lot of points that were extremely controversial for his time.
Let’s consider this section, from his famous Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:38-48)
Everything that Jesus Christ is saying here is very radical. It goes against what most everybody believes. He is telling us to love your enemies, wish good things upon them, pray for the people who want to kill you. Wow. That is an incredible statement to make.
How many of us actually love our enemies? How many of us see somebody we hate, and go to bed at night wishing for good things to happen to them? How many of us encounter somebody being rude to us during the day, and immediately wish them happy thoughts?
Pretty much nobody does that.
And yet that is exactly what we should be striving for. If we want peace in this world, this is what we need to be doing.
The idea of peace has been a radical one in modern times as well. During the Civil Rights movement in the United States, not everybody had the same ideas about how to go about bringing change to the African American community. There were two major leaders of the Civil Rights movement: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
Martin Luther King, Jr. deeply believed in the power of peaceful protesting and nonviolence, and that those were the only ways to bring the changes necessary to the black community. He staged sit-ins, boycotts, rallies, and marches across the United States to fight for civil rights for African Americans.
Malcolm X, however, thought that peace was a weak and nonsensical idea. He believed that blacks would only continue to get murdered if they approached the situation nonviolently. He was famous for his line “By any means necessary”, meaning, the African American community should be ready to do anything necessary to win civil rights for themselves, even through violent means such as killing others.
But violence cannot drive out violence. Hatred cannot drive out hatred. We cannot end wars by starting more wars. And it is an ignorant man who thinks that killing others will end these killings.
We have spent thousands of years fighting wars against each other. We have spent centuries hating each other. Where has that gotten us? Is the world a better place because of the hatred we cast upon each other? I don’t think it is.
Nobody comes into this world hating other people. Hate is something that is learned. It is learned through our experiences with others. It is learned through what our parents teach us, what our friends teach us, what the media teaches us. Hate makes its way into our hearts over time. And it gets hardened, and it stays there.
And just as easily as it is learned, it can be unlearned. We can learn to believe in peace. We can learn to love other people. Because hatred is something that is learned. But love, that is something that is much more natural for humans. Love is something that is innately within us.
And that is why peace will always win out in the end.
If we want to see peace in this world, peace must start with us. We must be the ones to initiate it. We must say “Enough is enough.”
These wars and these murders and these killings will continue. If we want them to stop, we must be the ones to stop them. We must decide for ourselves that we want to see peace on this planet. And then, we must go out and do something about it.
This is a transcript of my podcast, which is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Soundcloud, and more. Click here to listen.