War is the worst act of reason. Wars happen because of some perceived threats or because of the adamancy or arrogance of leaders. Whenever there is a conflict, it indicates a certain chasm between communities or between nations.
If we can get access to the peaceful space inside us, then outer peace can become a reality.
It has been over 200 days since the Ukraine-Russia war began and still, there is no sign of a resolution. The massive human suffering it has brought in its wake reiterates the undeniable lesson of history that war is not a way to resolve conflicts. Force and aggression can never bring a lasting solution. In the past, many emperors have tried to conquer the world with force and they have all failed in the long run.
Leaders have to realise that they don’t need to resort to force to establish their power. Embracing peace isn’t a sign of weakness. Rather, it is aggression that often proves to be a shortcoming in a leader, as it comes in the way of winning over the minds and hearts of people. And without winning the minds and hearts of the population of the country, one cannot be a true leader.
People do like a strong leader. However, strong leadership does not mean autocracy, irresponsibility and inflicting indiscriminate violence. The strong one will always be confident and one can exuberate with such confidence only when there is peace. That confidence is a true sign of strength.
There is a difference between building strong self-defence and being aggressive. We have the ancient philosophy of Chaturupaya which enunciates Saam, conciliation; Daam, incentive; Dand, punishment; and Bhed, manipulation, as four effective ways of addressing a conflicting situation. To establish dharma, all the four means are permitted. But taking the option of dand right away is an unintelligent way.
Fight, but with peace. Peace is an ornament of the brave warrior. In the Bhagwad Gita, Krishn tells Arjun to fight but without feverishness, with peace in his heart. He said: ‘Yogastha kurukarmani’ — be established in the Self, in yog, in peace, and then act and fight without feverishness if need be. This is timeless wisdom. The same understanding resonates in Lao Tzu’s teachings too.
War is the worst act of reason. Wars happen because of some perceived threats or because of the adamancy or arrogance of leaders. Whenever there is a conflict, it indicates a certain chasm between communities or between nations. When warring leaders take a unilateral view and become rigid and arrogant, the differences only escalate. Talk to any of the warring parties, and they will convince you that they are right. But they don’t see it from the other side’s point of view. A mutual resolution of conflict cannot happen if the views of only one side are considered. Here, people who are neutral or who have gained trust on both sides can play a vital role in bridging the gap. The focus should be to bring the parties to take up the common agreeable issues first so that the contentious ones can be looked into with more patience and harmony. For conflict resolution, mediators don’t need courage as much as they need communication skills.
A mediator must work with a clean slate and shouldn’t attempt to push the parties to accept a preset solution. Second, the mediator should listen to the parties without any bias, assure them that he is there for their welfare and try to give them a broader vision. The positive outlook and positive energy of the mediator itself can douse the fire to a great extent.
When we talk of world peace, we often forget an essential truth. Outer peace is not possible without individuals being at peace with themselves. Here, spirituality has an important role. Spirituality is not only a powerful force that brings people together, but also offers methods and techniques to handle stress, anger and aggression and get rid of negative emotions within us. If people can get access to the peaceful space inside them, then outer peace can become a reality.
We need to include peace education in our school curriculum. We spend so much on defence budgets. Even if a minuscule percentage of that budget is spent on peace education, a lot could be achieved.
September 21 is International Day of Peace