If You Want Peace, Prepare for Peace

Topics: Peace and conflict studies, Peace, Johan Galtung Pages: 5 (1674 words) Published: March 14, 2006
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." This quotation by Margaret Mead is no less than a mantra for the activists, who, in spite of continuous disappointment, continue working towards their cause. At the same time, there is another group of people who are equally concerned about the current situations however believe too strongly in the belief that one person can not, and never has, made a difference. Similar to this struggle of beliefs, on whether to take the apathetic approach or to work actively to create the change you want to see, is the struggle of ideas on how to achieve peace. While one dominant group believes that the only way to achieve peace is by preparing for the worst, the other major philosophy is to "prepare for peace."

Before we examine this struggle of ideologies, we need to define what we mean by the word "peace"? Are we simply referring to the lack of direct violence such as a war, or are we talking about something more implicit and oblivious, such as structural violence? The authors in "Patterns of Conflict, Paths to Peace" explore this issue of defining peace in great detail, and the definition I will be using from here on is the one pitched by Johan Galtung. According to him, true peace has not being achieved if "human beings (and) … their actual (physical) and mental realizations are below their potential realization." So, according to this Scandinavian peace researcher, "positive peace" can only be achieved by working towards social justice, and justices of other kinds. However, this definition of positive peace does, in no way, under-value the lack of actual war, which is referred to as negative peace. However, while negative peace is what we can realistically aim for, this peace is simply not sustainable until and unless backed up by the presence of positive peace. Why refer to the presence of justice and equality as positive peace? Because even though a particular individual or group can not be blamed for the oppressive action, "there is a clear victim who is being in some way in the situation, or by the situation." Therefore, any unjust action qualifies as indirect violence. Now that we have clarified what is meant by the word "peace" in this reflection, the next building block that needs to be elaborated upon is the phrase, "prepare for peace." What is meant by this phrase? And how exactly do you go about preparing for peace? Unfortunately, there is no step-by-step guide on how to go about preparing for peace. But as mentioned earlier, the action plan for this goal can be extracted from our subjective definition of peace. As earlier mentioned, I will be adopting Galtung's definition of peace, which states that in order to achieve a significant amount of peace we need to work towards justice. So, my definition of "preparing for peace" is something very utopian: to work towards equal access for all races, groups, classes. To acknowledge the fact that we can never really "level the playing field"; further, to accept the existence of extra benefits for certain groups in certain regions of the world. This approach of preparing for peace to achieve positive peace has been acquired through the world-order-paradigm. This is a huge contrast to the approach preached by the power-order-paradigm, which states that in order to prepare for peace, one needs to prepare for war. Examining the pros and cons of this belief would do much to strengthen the position of this reflection, however due to length constraints this issue will not be examined in further detail. Instead, I will examine both the weaknesses and strengths of the statement, "if you want peace, prepare for peace". The following paragraph will do the former.

As mentioned earlier, preparing for peace is certainly a subjective and complex idea. It differs according to the actors, and therefore, it lacks consistency. As opposed to measuring our...
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