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A simple note on ‘peace’

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The prerequisite for comprehending situations and resolving conflicts based on reason and just moral values is a certain level of self-restraint and forward thinking, says Syerleena Abdul Rashid.

peace and justice

Across the globe, we have witnessed a salvo of political discord that serves as a grim reminder to us all, of the horrors of war manufactured by demented principles that are inconsistent with progressive human values.

This year alone has been marred by various negative incidents that only reinforce the wave of suppression that has seemed to engulf not only our country but many other parts of the world as well.

For Malaysians, although it does not seem as though we are at war, the growing tension fuelled by racial bigotry and religious intolerance, which can be felt by everyone, may lead us to a destructive downward spiral.

Our view of war is usually limited to armed conflict between nations and seems to be influenced by the media portrayal of warfare. But this common view no longer applies in our present day; our understanding of warfare must expand and include not only armed conflict but the battles in diplomacy, economic aid and propaganda.

We are constantly exposed to fanatical and even violent remarks. We live in a time when fanatics are no longer afraid to voice out their opinions; some are even allowed to carry on instigating civil discord while elected leaders turn the other way. These fanatics spread their brand of political ideology through force, oppression and misinformation, though, some of them may use a softer approach such as handing out freebies and selling controlled items at discounted rates – just to win the hearts and minds of the people they seek to control.

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Great thinkers of the past advocated world peace but some of the means may no longer be applicable in our present day. Some believed that to achieve world peace, a world government was necessary to unite nations under a single government. Such a world government would be subject to many controversies, as it would require surrendering a part of national sovereignty of the countries involved. It is an ideal that not many are willing to consider unless forced upon; there are others who wish to realise world peace but through other means.

What does the concept of peace mean? Living peacefully does not require us to become angels or saints and to live together in perfect brotherly or sisterly love. This utopian concept is far-fetched because not only does it provide vague inspiration but it offers very little room for practical reforms.

The concept of peace that we must attempt to embrace is simply the state of affairs in which all human beings (regardless of race, religion or gender) can settle our differences by rational deliberation and not by force. This also means that we must uphold tolerance and respect if we are serious about progressing together as a nation.

We must be made to understand that peace is regarded as the norm in civil society. Not only is it essential for our material survival but it is a requirement for human existence. The principles by which humankind should live are clear – but the prerequisite for comprehending situations and resolving conflicts based on reason and just moral values is a certain level of self-restraint and forward thinking.

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Are we able to achieve peace? This is a philosophical question. But the least we can do depends is to think things through and to learn from the past mistakes history has shown us time and again. Contrary to what some may want us to believe, it is peace and not war that is appropriate to human nature.

This message is not just for Malaysians. This goes out to everyone in the world whose lives have been destroyed by senseless acts of violence created by human lust for power – and to those who seek nothing more than to uphold justice, freedom, solidarity and equality.

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