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CULTURE OF PEACE
M. Ishaq Jamkhanawala
The first thing about peace is that it is indivisible. It permeates the world in some form or it does not exist at all. Paradoxically, the physically enormous world of ours is still too small to contain peace and war together. Just as a house with many rooms may yet be too small to contain a family, if all its inmates are not harmonious and cooperative, in the same way the world may be a difficult and miserable place if all its inhabitants are psychologically and mentally at loggerheads with one another. Developments in Afghanistan, for example, are cause for concern not only in that country but also in the region.
The cardinal principle to remember about peace is that it is a positive quality and is not the mere absence of war. Things may be fine on the surface and yet hatred and bitterness may lie concealed in people’s hearts. There, they fester and feed each day on imaginary iniquities and assume gargantuan proportions until they become unbearable. Mountains thus are made out of molehills and become unmanageable and get totally out of control. The result is a blazing inferno, and it is too late to put it out. The original participants are joined by newcomers who have various conflicting interests. The more, it seems, the merrier, it seems. Distance lends enchantment to the view, which beckons the mischievous, the curious, the avaricious as well as ideologists everywhere. The theatre of war spreads like wildfire and it is not long before it assumes the dimensions of a world war. At least its repercussions are felt and its reverberations are heard in many distant parts of the world, whose state of peace is rudely and suddenly broken. The world is in conflagration, and devastation is all around.
A universal problem of this nature demands a universal approach, and it is most fitting that an institution such as the United Nations should be engaged in dealing with its various ramifications. If it is to achieve its purpose, however, the approach must be universal, not merely institutionally, but with the backing of all. In other words, all citizens, communities and groups must participate actively, honestly and dutifully in a concerted effort to do away with war in all its forms. It is imperative not only to outlaw war but to banish it, not only from our conscious personalities but from our thoughts, our minds, our very psyche. Like the word ‘impossible’ from Napoleon’s dictionary, the word ‘war’ must vanish from our dictionaries and be forgotten. It is a stupendous task but not beyond the capacity of man.
Which are the communities or groups who must be involved in this noble and sacred mission? Surely the younger generation, the youth, the students, and their teachers and instructors who are in charge of moulding their personalities. They in turn need to be hand-picked with care as to their suitability for the vital mission. Teachers’ Day, observed in India on 5 September every year, reminds us of our duty to the community. Unfortunately it lacks the fire and passion that should mark such an event. If properly observed, it could perhaps serve as an important contribution to the creation of the necessary climate. The world could adopt it and shame the people and authorities concerned into playing their part in taking the world away from the scourge of war.
We have identified the critically important youth-student-teacher community as the potential movers and shakers of the world’s nations. Add to them the sensitive community of the mothers of the young men and women. We have a sizeable section of the earth up in arms against the use of arms to achieve peace. They could be the all-important nucleus of the peace force which could unite to impose the rule of peace on a war-fearing world. There are, of course, others such as businessmen who wish to be left alone to do their work unhindered by the turmoil of war. These and many of their ilk would gladly enrol themselves in the movement for peace in all lands and for all times. ‘Peace in all lands and for all time’: what a sweet motto and how splendid and inspiring.
These sectors must form groups or associations in every important city in the world and get together as frequently as possible and express their desire to live in peace and to be left in peace by war-mongers. They are the powerful nucleus of the international network of peace and goodwill that alone can ultimately capture the world, if it is not to destroy itself.
Those people are happy who produce amidst themselves a fair number of such brahmanas as maulvis, priests and rabbis, who impart true education by precept and by example. We don’t want professional religion-mongers, who are the source of hatred and destruction. The best people will be sure to possess a justly socialized civilization whose golden mean will give the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. Realizing that no man liveth unto himself, we are all part of one another, that God has made human and of one blood. All creatures on this universe are members of one family. They will build stronger and surer nations on a foundation of world peace on earth by spreading goodwill among men. They will create such goodwill among men by establishing peace between the creeds, through the expression of unity as well as philosophical and scientific rationality and by explaining to them the principles of the purity of soul which will fulfil the just, reasonable and natural requirement of each and all, which will provide every person with suitable work and wages, so that human starvation is not increased and there is a real and widespread of general welfare.
The heaviest responsibility rests on our scientists. They can discover and spread knowledge which ought to be used for good. Therefore our scientists all over the world have to illuminate material science with spiritual science. They have to transfigure it into holy business and add to it determined philosophical theory. They must unite, confer together and show mankind the right way of organization.
The international effort for peace must find support and appropriate expression in a free and fearless press and an unattached body of writers. They do not have to go by big names. They must be independent of government and of all vested interests.
The householder who gives correct guidance to his household, the ordinary teacher who takes an interest in his students, the latter who take instructions from him and follow them, the mothers and the ordinary citizens who have learned to love their country and do not have to hate one another, who believe that all men are brothers and have equal rights and obligations, such are the stars on the earth, who guide the wayward. They are the players, the movers and shakers, the actors and heroes in the gentle exercise of keeping the peace in the world. Peace hath its victories more renowned than war. May such peace ever reign in this world of ours.
©1999 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi