Unity: The Philosophical Framework for Peace

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A popular slogan during the days of the Revolutionary War in America was “United we stand, divided we fall.” Unity implies togetherness and harmony, and peace goes hand-in-hand with joining together. We may think of the world as fragmented, divided between countries, religions, ethnicities, languages, and geographies. On TVs and the internet, news stories focus on a world that shows very little unity, but mostly division, disharmony, violence, and even conflict and war. Yet, the slogan that inspired early America colonists to rebel against the British Monarchy also expressed the necessary spirit that helped form thirteen separate countries into the United States of America. 

But to create unity on a global scale, may seem a very difficult task. What make it difficult is the belief in separation. Separation implies a set of beliefs that humans are ultimately at odds with one another. It suggests that we are at war with one another around resources, food, land, religion, ethnicity, and morality. If we believed that people are constantly at odds and struggling against each other, then unity would  indeed seem impossible or very difficult to attain.

Yet, let’s turn this idea around. If we are able to see our fellow humans as having the same wants and needs as ourselves then we would stop seeing each other as separate from one another. Though we each have physically separate bodies,  our shared hopes and dreams unite us. Can we also see that serving our fellow humans, also serves ourselves? We may wonder how this could be possible, given our separate existences. Yet, we can’t deny our feelings when we help others. Good feelings wash over us and we feel connected to everyone and everything. This suggests that there is a cause and effect relationship between others and our own experiences. This simple, but fundamental change in perception could change the world. This change in perception could make unity possible, and by extension, create lasting peace.

Many of us have moved to a new neighborhood at some point in our lives. When we finally settled into our new home we may not have known anyone in the area. Many people were strangers to us as we were strangers to them. But over time, we may have gotten to know a few of our neighbors. Soon acquaintances and possibly even friendships formed. People who were strangers a few weeks earlier, became people we started to care about, and they began to care about us.

But how do we explain this? Only weeks earlier, we didn’t care about them, and they didn’t care about us. So what happened? We got to know each other. Getting to know others is a step toward unity. It doesn’t mean we understand them; but we see them as individuals like ourselves, not as strangers.  

Let’s take this idea once step further, what if we moved to a different country? Imagine getting off the plane, and not knowing the language of this country and not understanding their ways and customs. But then a neighbor befriends us, and shows that they care. They explain to us the customs and even what some of the words mean. Insurmountable barriers broke down, and we slowly grasped this new culture. Over time we may even grow to love some of the people. We realize their desires are similar to our own. Perhaps we become aware that their desires for love, peace, happiness for their children, prosperity for their loved ones and their community are very much like ours. In our new neighborhood in this other country, we may even grow to like, even love, some of the people we once thought were so much different than us.

We don’t need to move to another country to connect with others who are different. We can see that what divides one people from another is simply a lack of knowing them and them knowing us. What divides us, then, may not even be oceans or continents, but simply a lack of understanding of each other.

Unity doesn’t imply sameness; it doesn’t mean everyone dresses the same way, or speaks the same language, or believes the same religion. It does, however, suggest there are shared purposes: such as wanting to create a peaceful world, or having a healthful environment, or producing greater prosperity for more people.

We may argue: that’s fine for people who are good-natured. But there are war-like, belligerent, angry people who choose violence as opposed to peace. Where do they fit into this concept of unity? First, let’s consider that these individuals are often relatively few in number. If most people want peace, and choose unity, then how can a smaller group sway the larger group into believing that separation is preferable to unity? It can only happen if the larger group gives its power over to the smaller group, by believing the smaller group is more powerful. 

Humans have evolved over time to the extent in which more and more people have enjoyed more and more power. Only a short time back in history, a small group of leaders, whether monarchs, dictators, or oligarchs controlled mass numbers of people. As democracy has flourished throughout the globe, more and more people have participated in shaping their own destinies. As it turns out, democracy has the effect of making people want what is best for more people, because what affects one affects all. When one member of a democracy gains, so does the entire group. Gains benefit everyone.

Unity asks us to expand our scope, and value not simply those around us, but to value everyone around the globe. If we took this simple step, then peace would become our reality. If we saw starving children as everyone’s children, then we would end starvation. If we saw war as tearing into the fabric of the human community, then we make every effort to end war. If we saw violence as harming our friends on the other side of the globe, as well as our friends on the other side of the city, then we would end violence, and the circumstances that lead to violence.

Unity is the philosophical framework of peace, because only in unity is peace possible. What is shared deprives no one. Yet what divides people, creates suffering. History and even current events underscore this premise. Division allows us to accept the unacceptable. Unity allows us to only embrace what we would accept for ourselves and our families.

“United we stand, divided we fall,” is not just the slogan of a people from the 18th century, aspiring to create a new nation on earth. It can inspire a conflicted world into peacefully joining together. It requires us to know that people next door or on the other side of the globe all share the same desires for peace, love, and serenity as ourselves.  When we tap into the spirit of unity, so we tap into the framework for creating peace.

www.solutionsforpeace.org

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Solutions for Peace

Welcome to Solutions for Peace! Thank you for joining this discussion. We hope our ideas will inspire more dialogues and even actions with respect to finding peaceful solutions. We also intend that these solutions will create peace in our personal lives, in our communities, as well as in the world at large.

We begin with a simple question: is peace possible? We have lived in a world where conflict and violence seem to reign. For most of our lives on Earth, we may have seen periods of short-term peace that have ended because of another attack, another episode of violence, or an all-out war.

We may have observed how well-intentioned leaders and diplomats have come together to negotiate peace and terms of peace, only to see those efforts marred by further bloodshed.

Why does this occur? If peace is a value the world holds so dear, why does the world turn to war and violence so readily and undermine efforts at creating peace? Why hasn’t the world, which has endured so many catastrophic wars, yet established a foothold on creating lasting peace? There is no easy answer to this question. We will simply offer some points of discussion to explore this question. 

The problem may be that we really do not know what peace is. Does it seem odd that peace negotiations arise between nations that are very close to fighting each other in war? Does peace seem likely when animosity, distrust, and hatred is so great? Perhaps under these circumstances a more appropriate term is conflict-avoidance rather than peace negotiations.  

It seems, then, the problem is about what we call peace. Is it possible we don’t really know what peace is? If so, then it would make sense that our efforts would come up short.

Here are two Webster’s Dictionary definitions of peace: 1) Freedom from war or a stopping of war 2) A treaty or agreement to end war or the threat of war. Additional terms to describe peace include “freedom from disagreements, quarrels; harmony; concord.” Yet, according to one of the definitions, the absence or freedom from war itself is a prerequisite for creating peace. Yet, that would presume that peace can be defined as the absence of the human energy or activity of war. And the world has often embodied this definition, negotiating peace by attempting to prevent war. It is therefore assumed that with the prevention or end of war, peace abounds. 

If the absence of War created Peace, then the end of the Second World War should have brought about a lasting and extensive Peace into the world. Yet, shortly thereafter, the world entered into the Cold War era. During this period an all-out world war between superpowers may not have occurred; yet violent conflicts still tore at the fabric of human society in hotspots throughout the globe.

It is our belief that Peace is not simply the absence of war. Instead, we believe that Peace itself is an energy and activity that must be actively pursued. Peace requires a great amount of mental and physical energy, economic investment, and dogged vigiliance as is often associated with militarism and war.

Despite efforts at peace negotiations, the world has yet to completely embrace Peace as the highest good for humankind. If this were so, countries of the world would largely end or significantly reduce their acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, whether for offensive or defensive purposes. Weapons of mass destruction, while creating a temporary shield from daring offenders, does little to create permanent and meaningful connections and harmony among peoples.

If Peace were truly embraced by humankind, then we would also not allow or accept suffering in any part of the world. We would end hunger, disease, and abject poverty, seeing these as true enemies to humanity. We would acknowledge that education is essential for empowering people and helping them choose a future of peace and hope, rather than a future of despair and violence. If Peace were truly valued, we would acknowledge that the lack of access to basic needs of any human in any part of the planet is unacceptable. We would acknowledge that neediness is unacceptable. Not only because all humans deserve receiving basic needs, but  because people who are desperate do desperate things. Desperate people often take actions that harm society or the world because of their lack of hope.  

A world at Peace  would discard the concept of collateral damage in warfare from being merely unfortunate yet acceptable consequences of War to unacceptable and avoidable. A peaceful world acknowledges that the loss of a loved one is never acceptable to the individual who has endured the loss.

So, is the world ready to embrace Peace? It would require hardly more money and effort than it already spends and exerts on planning and arming itself for war. Much of the same level of energy, effort, and resources can be shifted toward peaceful means. Peace really means shifting our energy and changing our priorities. Some may fear that focusing on peace will make their home country vulnerable to the worst offenders and attackers. Of course, every country should always maintain adequate defenses. But defenses alone cannot prevent the threat of war or attack. However, reducing or eliminating the need for war by reducing abject poverty, increasing education, and making access to basic needs a priority can ultimately reduce violence to a much more manageable degree. 

When Peace reigns, tyrants will all but cease to govern countries, for the rights of citizens within all countries of the world will supercede any tyrant’s rights to despotism. Without despots, countries of the world will be guided by leaders that respect all human life. 

Some may fear losing individual identity in favor of unity that peace promises. Yet, this focus of peace will actually liberate the individual from the tyranny and oppression of living in fear and abject need.

We acknowledge Peace is a long road. Yet it also a process, and the journey is as important as the destination. When we begin to think about creating peace and creating unity in the world, our individual and collective thinking change dramatically. Instead of simply thinking about how any choice or action impacts us as individuals, our family, and friends, we will think about how it impacts the whole everywhere. Does it create more unity or does it create disharmony? Does it affect the environment, even if it’s in a country or a region where we don’t live? Are we taking actions that liberate all persons or do our actions still keep certain people in chains?

This kind of unified thinking is essential for creating peace, because what we send out we also receive. Like shining a light on a mirror, it reflects back to us.  We receive the same positive energy that we put out to the world. Do we believe that we are immune from the suffering of the world, either by money, status, and / or geographic location? Peace invites us to expand our thinking. We cannot do this overnight. We have lived with a divided mind for too long, a mind that believes in wealth and happiness for a few, poverty and scarcity for the many, rather than peace and abundance for all.

Let us consider how the whole united planet will benefit each individual as well. This is not an argument for pure equality, but equality of opportunity. As more people have access to meeting their basic needs, they will naturally feel drawn to contribute to the society and world in more productive ways. Instead of harboring anger at a particular race or people, they will contribute to resolving problems at the local level. And we know that when people resolve problems locally, it impacts the world globally.

We will talk more about how equal opportunity offers equal access to the basic necessities for preserving life in later posts. For now, let us meditate on this expansive thought, that peace requires creating positive solutions. Let us acknowledge our role and commitment in contributing to the peace of the world by doing our part.

Be well and be at peace, Solutions4Peace.

www.solutionsforpeace.org

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