What is Peace?


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Uttered so often around the world, peace, as a word, as a concept as an ideal, catches a valid meaning every time it is used.

Attempting to define one of the most frequently uttered words in the world is certainly not an easy task and it is subjective being most often restricted to one’s own contexts and purposes. For some it might mean having the option of going to school and build a future, for some it may mean not being abused by their parents and friends, for some it might mean not being laughed at in school for being different, for some it might mean not being in danger of being shot for some it may mean having the right to vote…

Peace is a state of full fulfillment of our human rights and capacities.

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In history it was imagined and conceptualized in different ways.

Western concepts of peace originate in 1) the ancient Judaism concept of shalom, the Greek concept of eirene and the Roman concept of pax. Here the most common elements are prosperity and order (rule of law)

The Eastern concepts of peace emphasize order (both political and cosmic) and tranquility of mind.

In the Western tradition: In late medieval times the concept of peace was identical to the slogan of collaboration within the Christian world, to achieve `Christian peace' against attacks by the `infidels'. According to Dubois, only the Pope could head a Christian state/federation, while Dante believed that only a secular authority could make Christian peace acceptable. In the eras of the Renaissance and the Reformation peace acquired more universal features. Later concepts of peace became increasingly secular. The English bourgeois revolution regarded peace as the basis for utility, and the protector of property, while the French concept regards peace as the victory of Reason, to the benefit of humanity, in the name of justice. Kant synthetized the peace conceptions of his age. The formation of national states has gradually developed the idea of federation between nations and of international arbitrage systems. As wars started to mobilize the masses the idea of peace successively became of mass concern. In the early 19th century the first peace societies organized their first major international meetings and organizations. A new approach developed within the framework of the workers' movement, on the basis that peace can be achieved only through a basic transformation of society. Thus at the end of the period under study the `bourgeois' and `workers' peace aspirations develop along different tracks.




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