When we are trying to attain world peace, we must first start with peace between individuals as these relationships are the building blocks of society and nations. Peace can be achieved by non-violent means or by the use of lethal force. This essay will explore notions of peace and conflict, advocating the use of non-violent means for resolving conflict. The environmental and social cost of lethal force is very high and unsustainable. Never the less, there are situations when justice requires the use of lethal force and examples of these will be discussed. The paper will conclude with the argument that ongoing life enhancing structural reform is required for the management and the prevention of future violent conflicts throughout the world.
What is peace?
Our modern understanding of peace discusses the absence of war (the Macquarie Dictionary, 1987, p.1254), which Raymond Aron, (Barash, 1991. p7), calls negative peace. The majority of people in the West would expect more from the concept of peace, as many would not have experience war first hand. We would also include the freedom to choose for ourselves, freedom to pursue our own interests, as long as no one else was hurt in the process, tolerance for one another and living in a stable society. John Galtung expands the concept of peace to include positive peace, which is the absence of ‘structural’ violence that is built into the social and cultural structure of society that denies people the right to economic opportunity, political and social equality and self-fulfilment, (Barash, 1991, p.8). Positive peace includes the active role of building social structures that are non-tyrannical and harmonious, even in the absence of war.
Laue believes that peace is a process of continuously effectively managing differences to achieve mutually satisfying relationships, it also prevents the escalation of violence and achieves conditions that attain the well being of all human beings, ( Laue, 1991, p.301). Now that we have an understanding of what peace is, what then is conflict and how do we resolve it?
What is conflict?
The Oxford Dictionary defines conflict “as an encounter with arms, a fight, especially a prolonged struggle”, (as mentioned in Tillet, 1991, p.1). The Chinese symbol of crisis has two characters, one representing danger and the other representing opportunity, (Lantieri, L. & Patti, J.1996, p.53). Michael Banks claims that conflict is necessary, as it provides the catalyst for change and progress in society. Peace education’s aim shouldn’t be to abolish conflict, but to facilitate its healthy expression and to bring it within society’s control, (as cited in Sandole & Sandole-Staroste, 1987, p. 260). Karl Marx was one the first people to analyse conflict, believing that people are creative and generally cooperative, but who face the tyranny of capitalism. Marx believed that conflict between the bourgeoisie (the owners of capital and means of production) and the...