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What Is Peace ?

By | March 2011
Page 1 of 8
- Introduction -

War and violence, say some politicians, may only be the very last means of conflict settlement, when all other means have failed. This opinion is controversial in respect to two different sides: war and violence must not be a means of politics at all, the doves say. War and violence should, on the contrary, more often be resorted to, the hawks think. In one thing, anyway, they are not far from each other's positions, for both hardly talk about alternative ideas for conflict settlement. How can we make peace without violence, if others use violence as their argument? What is the better argument? And aren't violence and war part of our humanity?

On this background the talk will be about the character of peace in this essay. What really is peace? According to the German etymology, "Frieden" (peace) semantically has to do with "freedom" and also with joy ("Freude"). The Indo-Germanic root "priti-h" means "joy, satisfaction". The relationship to "free" lies in the root "prai-", also Indo-Germanic, for "protect, treat with consideration, care for, like, love". In law, "Frieden" means the unbroken juridicial order as the basis for community life. "Cease-fire" is another meaning of "Frieden". The German adjective "zufrieden" (content, satisfied) from the 17th century is explained in the standard dictionary "Duden" as "not troubled, calm". English "peace", derived from Latin "pax", has to do with agreement, undisturbance and being unmolested. Meaning that it primarily is about the absence of something else. Generally, peace is seen as a state, rather than an action, a property or a feeling. In Arabic - and analogously probably in Hebrew (salaam / shalom) - there is a root "sa-li-ma" which denotes the being intact and the entirety of a person or a thing.

Among all these variations in the semantic field it mostly is the absence of war and violence that spontaneously comes to our minds, and the absence of famine. There is a close semantic...
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