Why peace is not possible on this planet

War has prob­a­bly been around since apes became humans, perhaps even longer, but since I don’t think apes think of it as war, let’s stick to humans.

Something that has been around as long as we have been around, can rightly be described as ‘part of our culture’.

So to begin with, war is part of our culture! It’s some­thing that defines us. It says some­thing about who we are. This can never be ‘ended,’ can never be taken away. Already I feel justi­fied of my head­line, but this is not why I claim that peace is not possi­ble.

Now, there are several kinds of war, but let’s distin­guish at least two: War for the sake of iden­tity and estab­lish­ing bound­aries for this iden­tity (stone age/​tribal wars, me vs. you, we vs. them), and the more modern one; war in order to oblit­er­ate someone/​something (Christian vs. Muslims, Muslims vs. Jews, Stalin vs. people of the Soviet Union, Hutus vs. Tutsis, most soci­eties in the world vs. drugs/​terrorism/​extremism, etc).

The reason I am able to distin­guish these two kinds of wars, is that we have words for them in our language (by language I mean language as a phenom­e­non, not language as English, Norwegian, Swedish, Swahili etc).
In order for some­one else to be able to under­stand what you talk about, your words need to create images in your listen­ers’ minds.

With war, this is an easy task: soldier, bomb, grenade, tanks, uniform are all words that imme­di­ately creates images of war.

There are also lots of symbols in cities around the world that speaks clearly of war: warlords mounted on some animal with a raised weapon are memo­ri­als to cele­brate and commem­o­rate (heroic) acts of war.

And herein lies the prob­lem: Language does not contain distinc­tions for peace. We do not have words that create images of peace in other people’s minds when we artic­u­late them. We do not have symbols that speak peace, as ‘tanks’ and ‘grenade’ speak war. And no, a white dove is not a symbol of peace: for some it symbol­izes free­dom, for others it symbol­izes spread­ing of disease. A white flag is a flag, only white. And a gun tied up in a knot is not peace: it’s a tied-up gun!

So what is peace then? Harmony? Stillness? People just going about doing their busi­ness? Joyous gath­er­ings of people, all laugh­ing and clap­ping their hands in ecstasy? I certainly cannot distin­guish peace with words: I can look at a picture and tell imme­di­ately if a war is going on, but I cannot do the same for peace.

How can we have a vision of some­thing we cannot see? Visions need to be concrete and tangi­ble if it is to inspire others into action.

Instead, we negate. We express what we don’t want: Peace becomes ‘no mili­tary’, ‘no bombs’, ‘no suffer­ing’, ‘no killing of inno­cents’ and so on. But as long as we say ‘no guns’, we do also say ‘guns’, and thereby actu­ally mani­fest again what we don’t want. Which is why the peace move­ments of the world haven’t succeeded so far.

Is a world with­out guns a world in peace? Could be, prob­a­bly not though. Is a world with­out weapons at all a world in peace? Same answer, this takes us nowhere, we need distinc­tions of peace, not nega­tions of war.

There is noth­ing wrong with striv­ing, however, and it seems that’s all we can achieve with the language we have; a contin­u­ous, never-ending, evolu­tion­ary strive for a world that can be described as…, as…, (see how hard it is?) ok, peace­ful.

Do you have words that create images of peace in the other people’s minds, when you speak? How does a world in peace appear to you, what does it look like, how would you describe it?

If you can express this posi­tively (not negat­ing), please use the comment field and share!

/​Finno

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