Some of us may have different ideas of world peace and of peace building, and these may seem like a vision that is unattainable to some, if not most of us at times. Nationalism and imperialism seem to be major obstacles in attaining these goals, as we will further review those two topics later on in the article. To begin with, from the Free Dictionary by Farlex.
- The absence of war or other hostilities.
- An agreement or a treaty to end hostilities.
- Freedom from quarrels and disagreement; harmonious relations.
- Public Security and order.
- Inner contentment, serenity (peace of mind).
The timing for this article seems truly important, as on one hand we have destructive weather stretching across the globe, and we have ongoing wars that seem to have no ongoing peace building attempts, and world peace is but a far reach at best. It is also the holidays, where peace on Earth and goodwill towards man is the theme, and that for most of us, we put our differences away for a few days, and celebrate the birth of Christ, a live together in peace and harmony for the most part. Some of us even manage a smile and some courtesies we normally would not bother with.
So let us begin, outside the spirit of Christmas, with the fact that our world has many people with many differing opinions and many different points of view. There are plenty of conflicts going on around the world, and much of those are due to those different points of view. Many conflicts also arise out of the lack of understanding of other cultural differences, which brings us to situations where genocide occurs. There are still a number of instances of genocide occurring in the nations of Sudan – Darfur, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, and Uganda. Many of these acts in Africa can be attributed of political corruption, amongst other things, which brings me to my next point.
While a vision of world peace for many may seem like a insurmountable goal, and the peace building process is a long drawn out process, for others it is a dream. Lets first look at the causes of wars and conflicts to get a better understanding of the peace building process. The conflict known as WWI was primarily caused by nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and a long series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914 that left tensions high, although the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on June 28th, 1914 actually triggered the declaration of war. For the causes of WWII, we need not look much further than WWI, as nationalism tensions, unresolved issues and resentments from WWI and the interwar period between these two wars in Europe, and the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930’s, which is primarily imperialism. Both nationalism and imperialism played a strong supporting role in both of these conflicts of human interests, so let us explain why.
Nationalism and Imperialism
I see several words in the causes of these two wars that we need to take a look at. First of all, lets define nationalism. Nationalism involves a strong sense of identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, or a nation. More often than not with nationalism, it is the belief that an ethnic group has a right to statehood, or that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic group, or that multinationality in a single state should necessarily comprise the right to express and exercise national identity even by minorities. Nationalism can sometimes become reactionary, and call for a return to a national past, and even for the expulsion of foreigners, especially during times of economic hardship. There also is the revolutionary form of nationalism which calls for a independent state as a homeland for an ethnic underclass. To simplify, nationalism is an ideology. I can create an analogy the many of us may be more familiar with. Take your local sports team, like football, soccer, baseball, or basketball. Our local sports team gives us a common identity for different groups of humans, many of whom probably wouldn’t form that bond together otherwise. This, however is a little general for an analogy, as many different ethnic groups and religions can become fans for that team. Nationalism is more of the ethnic and religious nationalism types for our purpose here in being part of the causes for wars. This is not a vision of world peace in any definition, nor a peace building success story.
The second word from the causes of these wars that should strike fear into the hearts of all is imperialism. Imperialism is the state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas. Because imperialism involves the use of power, often in the form of military force, it is widely considered ethically and morally objectionable, and the term accordingly has been used by states to denounce and discredit foreign policies of their opponents. Ancient imperialism is fairly obvious for the empires of China, Western Asia, and the Mediterranean. During the period between the 15th and 18th centuries, England, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain built empires in the Americas, both North and South, India, and the East Indies. Following that period during the middle of the 19th century to WWI, Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States became imperial powers, and the imperial designs of the Japanese, Italian, and German nations culminated in the outbreak of WWII, although much of that carried over from WWI, and the events following that war. After WWII, Russia, or then known as the Soviet Union consolidated its military might and political control over the states of Eastern Europe, know as the Iron Curtain. From the onset of the 20th century, the United States was accused of imperialism for intervening in the affairs of developing nations in order to protect the interests of U.S. owned international corporations. Economists and political theorists have many times debated whether or not imperialism benefits the states that practice it and whether such benefits or other reason ever justify a state in pursuing imperialist policies. Niccolo Machiavelli has argued that imperialism is the justified result of the natural struggle for survival amongst people, while others claim that it is necessary to obtain national security. Another justification for it, although only suggested after WWII is that it is a means of liberating a nation from a tyrannical rule or in bringing them the blessings of a supposedly superior way of life. Another definition for imperialism is that it is a policy of systematic domination and exploitation of a country by another country or an empire. Again, this is not the vision of world peace or the peace building process that I would like, although some may claim it to be under ulterior pretenses, nor does nationalism do anything for me or the process.
This brings us to our current wars, where the war on terror and Jihad are the current ‘wars’, amongst the other genocide and nationalistic political struggles in third world countries where imperialism isn’t going to bring them a superior way of life, and the peace building process isn’t even an option at this point. Lets take a look at the current state of Jihad, which by most accounts can find its roots in imperialism and nationalism as well. While the imperialistic intentions of western nations to ‘protect their oil interests in the Middle East’ is politically defined as national security and protecting our interests, the underlying exploitation of the region has created a disparity amongst the haves and the have nots. This favoritism and imperialism is the direct cause of Jihad I would imagine, whether intentional or not. It has sparked resentments and anger over our actions, and, or inaction’s, in the region and created an atmosphere of hatred and loathing for some which is a breeding ground for terrorists. World peace doesn’t seem to be an option at this point in the peace building process, if there even is one.
Peace Building and a Vision Of World Peace
Now we are at the onset of another war, this one much bigger than all the others combined, but yet, has all the same contributing factors! Nationalism and imperialism are the key ingredients for the war on climate change, although no one has ever described it this way from my knowledge, and world peace takes on a whole new dimension. The keys factors in our inability to reach widespread co2 cuts are nationalism and imperialism, and oil is right in the middle of this war too, just like Jihad. This is one battle where we, as a species, can and should unite, and create a new nationalism that envelopes the entire planet, not just a single nation. We all have a stake in this war on climate change, and it affects us all. Now, more than ever should be a time when we can put away our petty differences and look at the big picture here. We all have our cultural and societal uniqueness, which we should embrace and share with each other, not condemn or criticize. Whilst we are all off killing each other, the real war is going unchallenged and not being fought like it should be. We need to focus our energy and resources to coming up with creative, healthy, and acceptable solutions for the peace building process for the war on global warming. Even if you are a non believer, or denier, it should be a concern to you as well. The price of oil is only going to go up, and it won’t last for ever. It would be in your best interests to join in the fight against the continued use of oil as well. As for coal, it is cheap, but so is solar, and coal is toxic on so many levels it would also be in your best interests to do away with it too! The peace building process for this vision of world peace isn’t hard, we just need to want it. If we would spend half the money we currently spend on wars and war machines, half the battle would already be won!
This is probably the one thing that can, and should bring us all together and to work together on creating alternative solutions which will benefit the entire planet. This vision of world peace has no boundaries, no borders, no underlying financial motivations, and no imperialistic factors. The only other thing that brings people together from across the world is God, and or religion that I can think of. The Earth is God’s creation, or whomever is your higher power or belief, and to diss it like we have is a sin on so many levels I would imagine. We have, or had a saying in the US, although I haven’t heard it used in quite awhile, and it is this, “UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL”. Now that is appropriate for many reasons, because if we are divided, which we currently are on solutions for the war on climate change, then we won’t be able to achieve the necessary changes that we need to accomplish in an ever shortening time frame, which currently, by common acceptance, is 350ppm CO2 in the atmosphere. 350 ppm is the widely accepted safe level for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and anything above that could, or will create devastating global consequences, some of which we are beginning to see appear now. It currently is approximately 389ppm, and no clear cut widely accepted plans or solutions are in sight for reductions in our current output of greenhouse gases. What’s more, nationalism and imperialism are playing as big a role in these wars as they did in WWI and WWII, as well as most others I would imagine.
My definition of what is peace and my vision for world peace is that we put away our differences, put away our greed and lust for money and, or power, put away our fears of loss, and, or change, or the unknown, put away our cultures, our nationalism, our false pride, imperialism, and most of all resentments. We should begin to gain a better understanding of each other and learn forgiveness. Another factor to include is that in twelve step groups it is common place knowledge and widely accepted that if they are to recover, they need to give up the attitudes and practices that create problems, and that surrender is what’s needed to let go. Acceptance of this fact is paramount. We can apply that same theory here, in that our attitudes and current practices towards mother nature and planet Earth are creating problems. Some of us may think we are special, or our egos may be overinflated, some nations may think they are ‘special’ for that matter, and don’t need to change. This is what creates a major obstacle in our quest win the war on climate change. Here is a little prayer I found doing some research for this article, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Now I find this quite fitting, in that we can’t change what currently happens with the weather, but we can change what will potentially happen for the future, we have the power to limit the amount of damage to the planets Eco systems that we do. So the time is now my friends, to put down all arms, and join together to fight our worst enemy, ourselves, and fight the war on climate change together, united, as a planet, not as a nation, individual, corporation, imperialist, or nationalist. Here is where we drop the borders, the cultural nuances, the religious zealousness, the political landscapes, and join together in the battle of the Epoch, or ages in the war on climate change. We have the ingenuity, wisdom, and technology to win this war, but do we have the will? In my vision of world peace we can and will overcome these obstacles of nationalism and imperialism, among others and win this battle, and create a better world for all mankind, and all creatures. This is what peace building process means to me, and to all of you my friends, peace, and lets fight the good fight today!