What is the role of peace? What’s the difference between a person being ‘at peace’ vs. countries being ‘at peace’ and why does ‘at peace’ often refer to someone who is dead? Should we, as a country, expect that as our fate before we can be ‘at peace?’
“…perhaps the most extraordinary result of nuclear technology is that it has brought the human race as a whole to the point at which physical and spiritual salvation are no longer separable. It is no longer possible to save our skin while remaining ignorant of our own motives and unconscious of our own cultures.”
– M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Different Drum”
Our industrial complex sets our community, economy and political machine up for constantly preparing for war. It seems the inevitable conclusion of our very structure. Notice nothing in our politics seems in place for preparing us for peace, since it is completely understood that peace for our culture is a short term, passing fad, simply the time between conflicts.
Fitness is often in the same boat. From Crossfit to MMA conditioning to the history of calisthenics, gladiator training and ‘Spartan’ training, the premise of these programs is preparation to fight, whether to defend or to attack. It is no wonder that peace and its pursuit has a reputation for weakness, often linked with the word ‘pacifist,’ which sounds too much like ‘passive-ist’ to be a coincidence (although it is, since ‘passus’ is the almost ironic root for ‘passive,’ which means ‘suffer.’)
Even ‘strength’ in latin, vis vires, is often synonymous with influence and force (not the ‘mass x acceleration’ type, if ya know what I mean). No wonder there is so much gender stigma associated with the word. It is usually an insecure male ego that craves domination through force and influence. Women are apt to dominate in much sneakier ways (or am I opening up a can o’ worms here?).
Is our way, our ‘human nature,’ that of conflict? Well of course. Suffering seems to be a key ingredient in every philosophical or theological stew. But conflict through domination, i.e. war, seems to arise, like Emerson’s quote about industry, from a lengthened shadow of one man. There always seems to be one (or a small handful) leading many towards this domination quest. War, despite the government creating it, is rarely democratic, in the true sense of the word, unless it is from a defensive position.
Major conflicts arise from the greed of a few. A king/ruler/president/ wants, and that king/ruler/president takes, or tries to. Since any attempt to study the history of peace is futile (since there isn’t any), we must assume that this wanting and taking HAPPENS ALL THE TIME!.
So what fuels this greed? Greed is the unquenchable desire to HAVE, and it succeeds most (if we can call it success) when it leads to others NOT HAVING. Since there is always someone, at EVERY point in history, who covets avarice, then any dreams of a Utopia scenario based on a loosely defined concept of equality will fail, since most attempts at equality deny the concept of greed, or, ironically, attempt the “but we’re more equal than you” approach, and Charles Manson can tell you how well that worked.
Rarely do the greedy accumulate their wants without fanfare or public knowledge. Greed takes, and acknowledges it. Flaunting is a big part of greed, which leads to a premise that greed might have a basis in attention. Having is one thing, having more than necessary and constantly pursuing the having of more is attention seeking… or insanity.
Possibly both, but a case could be made that a big foundation for major conflicts is simply a child-like need for attention. I want what they have, and I want it at their loss so I can be acknowledged as powerful and ‘strong.’ Waaaah, someone notice me!!
In a healthy tribe, attention is divided equally, making wealth less important and domination a low priority. But culturally, we’ve never experienced a scenario where security is guaranteed and attention is blanketed amongst all, so we don’t know if there would still be the ultimate need for someone to try to dominate, even in a so-called ‘healthy’ scenario.
The question exists: are we, by nature, ‘good,’ or simply ‘polite’ due to possible consequences? It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine that maybe we all have true potential for the vilest of power conflicts and evil deeds, but we’re just too damn lazy to pursue that potential. It takes too much work to be evil.
“Keep the peace,” “Peace through force,” or “peace keeping force” are the terms from the military industrial complex to define the modern concept of peace, which apparently means ‘lack of major conflict.’ The pedantic romantic in me isn’t satisfied with this concept. It might be silly to consider a time where there doesn’t always loom some asshole with an ego trip trying to control everything, mucking up any other possible definition of peace other than “a time between tyrant punk bitches trying to take what isn’t theirs.” But I’m willing to work at it.
Exerceo : to train, cultivate, keep at work, exercise, practice.
Pax Exerceo. Peace through training. This doesn’t mean, as mentioned in the last post, that peace is a total lack of conflict. It means peace is the GOAL of the conflicts. Accepting smaller conflicts as lessons in communication or tribal empowerment so the major conflicts become unnecessary. Can exercise play a role in this admitted unreal fantasy? How can it not?
Kant mentioned that the our belief in God was moot, since it would behoove us to behave as if there was one regardless. In other words, let’s be nice to each other, without having to base it on a concept of rewards and punishments. Then why? As Perry Farrel wrote, just because. That’s how I’d like to approach peace. I’d like to attempt it, whether it is realistic or not, just because.
And I can train for it just like a soldier can train to be battle prepared. Nothing ‘passive’ about it.