Photo: The Japanese Peace Bell and its en:pagoda at United Nations Headquarters, New York City. Photograph credit: Drag | Wikimedia Commons - Photo: 2018

Peace as Form of Life

Viewpoint by Tito Alvarado

MONTREAL (IDN) – Of the world’s more than six thousand extant languages, three thousand have little chance of continuing to be used in the next century. This tragic fact represents a terrible finding: we will lose three thousand ways to approach life and humanity from the perspective of others in their relationship with the environment that surrounds them.

However, as this is a case of death for the people who use these languages, it is perceived as anecdotal, as a kind of fatalism; in fact, we wash our hands whereas we are responsible for working for the survival of the variety of cultures and languages.

To save a language is to save a way of entering into a relationship with the world, a tool of culture. But there are many other themes as relevant as the issues related to the problem of endangered languages. Life itself is in danger; the next 25 years are decisive for both the pursuit of the same direction or for a change in lifestyle.

I think I have read somewhere in a document I have lost track of that there are more than one million initiatives and organisations with an agenda of world peace. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any coordination among them.

Is it because of the “conditioning” that leads us to believe that each individual is an island? Is it the law of least effort? Or, worse, because of a morality far removed from reality?

Of course, each entity is in good faith, but that is not enough to stop wars in the world. These wars are created with the will to control resources by using quibbles to increase the fear of fake threats. We face a dilemma that the human race has never faced: guarantee the survival of all or perish.

We do not always fully understand the magnitude of this tragedy. The daily concerns for survival do not allow us to project ourselves into this drama of life, with our days counted, and we continue to act in the same way.

In addition, the powers that be manipulate our ability to respond and lead us to think and act according to interests that are remote from the well-being of everyone and every individual. Even if millions of people work for life, the balance tips toward the end of civilisation because many people act according to their immediate interests, always in contradiction with the collective well-being.

Peace may seem like an easy theme to develop but it is a difficult goal to reach.

I do not think of peace as an immediate fact when I see the forty or so armed conflicts and the hundreds of armed interventions that prevent the peaceful coexistence of nations and people.

Just follow the thread of information to find that we are not always told the truth; the so-called truth reflects the immediate and future benefits of those who exercise powers with all their tentacles including the use of crimes, scandals and corruption to always maintain the same rules of the game; in this puzzle, good deeds look like jokes.

The business of the “news” is not to really communicate what is happening, but to privilege the morbid and fatal facts until satiety. The truth is often falsified by sweetening the true facts or by telling outright lies. We evolve in a world of images, those of the powers behind power. Thus, we will never reach peace as a means to develop all our power of creation. That must and can change.

Peace as a theme comes to look like a commonplace, like a word emptied of its meaning. If we look back at history, we find that peace has always been the greatest utopia; It does not matter that many countries are not in a state of war, in spite of relative calm we can witness the ravages of a form of life built by power grabs.

We are reduced to a field of technical and scientific studies that stifle people who think and act in a different way. In this field of honour, characters, perceived according to an ethics of peace, present the face of assassins in the natural state.

Keeping armies with all their scrap costs a fortune and gives back little to the country that pays for services that are … “virtual”. These are unnecessary expenses when many categories of workers are poorly paid (teachers, workers, artists, craftsmen, and so on).

Actions are limited by the increasing distance between the minority that possesses much and the majorities that have little, almost nothing or quite simply nothing in the face of multiple disasters: climate change, alarming decreases in water resources, scandalous piling up of plastic all over the planet (especially in the seas), waste of goods and food products found in garbage and the extreme poverty of more than two billion people condemned to survival.

In the face of all these catastrophes, millions of people should act on many fronts with heroism, courage and determination to limit the advance of humanity towards the abyss. Today, although we face impending disasters, the critical collective consciousness seems to have lost its bearings.

If we seek a definition that values the word “peace”, we surprisingly discover that the term is defined in the light of an ideology expressed according to the codes of language and vision of the ruling class. We lose sight of the meaning it is given by people who believe in a new social order that is possible and necessary.

Any expert on semantic questions will tell us that the word “peace” refers to a state of well-being, tranquility, stability and security. It also refers to a state of harmony free from wars, conflicts and setbacks. This definition remains in the limbo of ambiguity even if it wanted to be categorical.

Throughout the history of humanity, we have never witnessed this state of well-being, tranquility, stability and security. Let us look at each dimension in detail.

Reaching a certain well-being refers to a valid level of wealth; today, poverty rather than wealth affects most people. Currently, the peak is absolute: one percent of the world’s population controls 50 percent of the world’s resources.

Tranquility refers to the certainty that we cannot claim if we observe the major disasters caused by minor factors; our life is like the waves breaking on rocks.

Stability is something very relative; in reality, it is a question of contradictory waves, because at times there are various “winning” strategies, but this is followed by the economic system plunging back into a period of instability.

Security is a joke … a cruel joke. It does not really exist. Just think about what passengers have to suffer in an airport to realise this. Furthermore, the proliferation of security companies is phenomenal. And what about the impressive, sophisticated and increasingly dangerous arsenals found in police services.

The definition of peace already mentioned is simply a euphemism that brings us back to the superficial dimension.

Thinking peace in its depth is impossible given the very essence of the social order in which we live, because everything is based on the fact that a minority is constantly seeking to increase its profits by constantly fighting against others. Competition is the most fashionable keyword; it is the source of all conflicts. One lives to win and live with the winnings. It seems like a play on words, but it is indeed a truth consecrated as a moral.

Banks, insurance companies, construction companies, by definition, are shown to be highway robbers. Their profits rise in greater proportion than the cost of living while the wages of the people who live from their work remain stable or increase very little; thus, one loses gains and salaries dilute dangerously.

We live in the nightmare of knowing that the planet’s resources are able to provide for human needs so that full advantage can be taken of opportunities, yet this situation increases the gap between those who have much and those who have little. This terrible observation does not seem to be perceived as an injustice.

Science and technology provide answers to the majority of human problems, but the lack of resources, the interests of transnational corporations and the “ethics” of the market prevent humanity from implementing these solutions because the rules of the market impose their conditions as an absolute immorality; thousands of tons of unsold products are lost in secret places.

Peace will remain a word of good intentions and rarely implanted in everyday life until we find a radical solution that gets to the bottom of things. It is a question of eliminating the rules of the game which facilitates living in constant wars that maintain the impoverishment and unacceptable treatment of people.

It is urgent that we bring about a radical change of culture, that is to say, a cultural revolution that would recognise the well-being of all human beings, regardless of race, religious beliefs, ethnic origin and/or national or any other barriers that divide humanity.

Today’s drama is life; to continue without profound changes would mean going from bad to worse and reaching a point of no return. If we come to that point, the damage will be irretrievable. The necessary changes are necessary today and must follow two central guidelines: change the patterns of relationship among us and between us and nature.

First of all, it should be remembered that the main cause of the deterioration of life on planet earth is unique and fundamental: the constant search for profit. On the contrary, relations among us and between us and nature should be based on solidarity, a fraternal feeling that humanises and elevates us as people.

A new order is not only possible, it is extremely necessary, because the resources of the planet can perfectly satisfy the needs of all human beings. In this sense, we must consider twelve foundations of peace that are also reasons for cultural change, that is to say, a new way of seeing the world and seeing us in this universe by assuming our share accountability, awareness, participation, information and decision-making:

  • share the planet as the only common home of all the inhabitants of the Earth;
  • distribute goods in proportion to needs;
  • invest in education, scientific and technological research and development of a critical social conscience;
  • guarantee a single ethical minimum wage and a maximum salary not exceeding five times the minimum wage;
  • develop transparent practices in relation to wages, profits and benefits;
  • legalise land, water and air as non-marketable social goods;
  • demobilise armies;
  • introduce a fair exchange currency;
  • promote the free movement of people;
  • prohibit health, education, housing and pensions from being objects of commerce;
  • make public transport free in all cities that can rely on public transportation;
  • consider the ecological impact of any development project.

The voices of discord will say that this is impossible, just as the adventure of exploring the seas to arrive, by unknown ways, at the other end of the world was impossible in its time. It was also impossible to transport water from sources several kilometres away, as was the case with the Acqueduct of Segovia, which has survived for thousands of years. It also seemed impossible to become involved in space to reach the Moon, like the development of instruments of mass communication through science and technology.

Today, we face the urgency of necessity; it is time to take action to achieve a better world all over the planet.

When we are able to implement these twelve levers of change, we will enter the era of the full creative potential of human development. We will be able to live in peace by using resources, technology and science in a humane and responsible way. The impossible will become reality or life will no longer be possible. This is the dilemma!

*Poet, essayist, journalist, speaker and cultural promoter Tito Alvarado is currently International President of Proyecto Cultural SUR, member of the coordination team of the International Word Poetry Festival and member of the editorial team of Utopia Rossa. This article was originally published in French by Utopia Rossa (Red Utopia) under the title ‘La Paix Comme Forme de Vie’. Translated by Phil Harris. [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 July 2018]

Photo: The Japanese Peace Bell and its en:pagoda at United Nations Headquarters, New York City. Photograph credit: Drag | Wikimedia Commons

IDN is the flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate –

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