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How to define peace?

Peace is not the absence of war, nor is it the opposite of war. Defining peace as the absence of war brings peace down to a meaningless, passive, incomplete and far-fetched vision. The spectrum of peace is much bigger, because the spectrum of violence is much bigger than that of war.* However, peace is also not the absence of violence, it is the opposite of violence.

Peace is an activity, not an idleness. It is an engagement to be carried out every day in all of our interactions. Being a bystander when confronted with others’ violent interactions kills peace. Staying passive sends the wrong signal. It allows violent people to increase violence. It is by building a major counterweight, where peace is prioritized in human interactions, that we can make people with “violent” behavior question themselves and eventually bring out the best in themselves. By staying passive, we pull apart from this counterweight effort, we choose to let people act violent, even if we are the nicest person of all.
 
Peace requires a positive fighting spirit in our relationships, and towards our own reactions as well. However, defining peace as the war the mind won against instincts is wrong. It is not through a battle that we reach inner peace, but through cultivating an inner state of appeasement. As opposed to a battle, it is a relationship that needs to be built; with oneself, then others, not only with our mind, but also with our heart.
Peace is an everlasting weaving of affectionate relationships of closeness based on human values and one another’s creativity to overcome difficulties, conflicts, and their own frustrations.

Peace is a relationship of the living well together. It is strong and lasting, based on respect, serenity, cordiality and mutual understanding among people. It comes from the expression of the heart just as much as from the mind’s. It is through human affection that we can transcend violence.


Peace is a lifestyle choice in which human interactions are based on a sense of humanity that is able to counter the violent tendencies of powerful, vindictive and angry people, by tapping into their hearts and minds. A lifestyle choice that is personal, collective, economic and political.

If violence seems to be everywhere, then so are the grounds for peace. It is up to us to cultivate them.

Delia Mamon, for Graines de Paix, March 6th, 2007

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(*) The evolution of the definition of the words peace and violence is the focus of many well-known scientific studies. See for example David Adams and Johan Galtung. The non-inherent trait of violence is also touched upon in the 2006 Declaration of Luarca, now discussed in the UN, to introduce the request to establish the human right to peace.

Luarca Declaration.pdf