Craving For a Peaceful World By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni
“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” – Mahatma Ghandi
As yet another International day of nonviolence creep upon the world’s consciousness, there lays pockets of violence in almost every crannies of the hemisphere. With the passing of every other day, world inhabitants get aggressively intolerant with each other. Due to diminishing diplomatic composure, lack of statecraft, unwillingness to let go and self destructive instincts as occasioned by environmental degradation and population explosion violence is brewing across hitherto peaceful borders.
Aside States that are at arms with each other, fissiparous terrorists groups with no defined territorial boundary like Al-Qaeda, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad alias Boko Haram, Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, ISIL, National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, MNLA, amongst others are causing havocs, creating international nuisance and bloodshed. At every turn around the world, chaos reigns supreme; Ukraine in Eastern Europe, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in Middle East, Somalia in East Africa, Central African Republic, South Sudan in North Africa, and Mali and Nigeria in West Africa, are just few collections of unrest across the globe.
Violence can be narrowed down to any behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. The World Health Organization defines violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation. Over the years, incidence of violence had grown in leaps and bounds, from medieval warring empires collecting slaves and colonizing nations, to nations at war in themselves in a civil context, to materialist wars of diamonds and crude that has further impoverish the people than liberate them.
In the last decade, violence or violent uprising has been tied around religion, protecting sovereign states, seeking inclusive democracy, reducing the ownership of nuclear weapon and combating world terrorism. In Africa, violence as occasioned by rural banditry has been exponential as nomadic try to seek greener pasture through relatively declining grazing lands which presumably was caused by population explosion and urban expansion. Amidst these are also sectarian violence claiming lives every other day.
Today, the world is unsettled, chaotic, brutish, nasty and dangerously positioned. Under the cover of religious bigotry, territorial realignment, ethnic dominance, resource control, sustenance of geographical sovereignty, expansion of political dynasty and establishment of world hegemony, human bloods are being violently spilled. We are fast losing our humanity and this portray clearly that the entire world is in disarray. We have continuously hampered on our fault lines as a basis to wage and remain at war. To be frank, it is the self-centered instinct to subjugate other nations, individuals or corporations to the whims and caprices of an aggressor(s) that has continue to escalate the divide. The world as a whole needs to stand up to this challenge in the face of an abiding aphorism – threat of injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere.
It was Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud, who tries to explain that humans naturally grow from the state of child-like impetuous actions to a state of creating balance and judging between what is right and wrong. Taking a clue from Freud’s theory of ID, Ego and Super Ego, we as humans need to know what is right or wrong. Capitalizing on the depravity of others to gain mundane advantage places a burden of rightness on every cause of action that has led to shedding of human bloods; discriminatory practices, arms trading, debt burden, population explosion, climate change, economic deprivation, child labour, unemployment and gender inequality.
Another major obstacle to attaining world peace is the proliferation of arms. Isn’t it scandalous that the nations with the highest sales in arms are the most peaceful? They are, the agent provocateurs currently running around as peace advocates. Developing nations get loans from developed nations to purchase arms to annihilate their own people. This stringed action entrenched them in the vicious circle of debt repayment that further impoverishes the people.
Wars bring more wars not peace, even the biblical postulation of an eye for an eye as contained in the law given to Moses has been overridden by Jesus Christ abiding love and the will to forgive and forget. Prophet Muhammad in copious texts established that the religion he came to redefine called Islam means peace. Mahatma Ghandi whom today is meant to celebrate once said, “an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Today, a ”Non-Violence”, sculpture of a knotted gun by Karl Fredrik stood permanently outside UN Headquarters in New York. The revolver with a knotted barrel and the muzzle pointing upwards tacitly depicts the need to destroy and discontinue the production of weapons of human destruction of all categories.
Human are the eyes of the world, violence brings tears to the world’s eyes. The United Nations choose October 2 to commemorate and “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.” It advocates for “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”. Despite the UN’s advocacy, peace still remains the most expensive commodity in the global market.
It may seem that the idea of world peace is an illusion when the greed of man is not tamed, and conflict amongst humans continues unabated, but well managed human interaction hinged on structured diplomatic maneuvering can reduce conflict to a bearer minimum. Truth be told, one of the major hindrance to world peace is the politics of influence exercised by the super powers that double as world police. The proliferation of small arms and its regulation within the international community is also of great concern. Inasmuch as arms can still been purchased arbitrarily at the black market, curtailing violence would remain herculean task.
In the bid to prevent war, some theorists advocated for a military deterrence strategy, Mutually Assured Destruction, MAD, that suggested possible annihilation of either the attacker or defender, but they would have seen the futility of the theory that seek to stockpile armour under perceived fears of attack. Rather than abate, acquiring nuclear weapons has led to more killing than bringing peace. As long as we still have states that carry nuclear, biological and chemical weapons under the umbrella of defensive weapons, peace would remain an illusion. We should remember people go to war believing that they have been cheated, they go to war to seek presumed justice, and they go to war to seek redress. As much as we try to be empathetic in regards to why they are taking arms, the world must as a point of duty condemn violence in whatever form.
In a monograph on ‘Boko Haram, the Government and Peace Negotiation’, Professor James B. Kantiok, stated that “peace cannot be brought about by fine phrases, jingles and nice lectures; it involves hard work and sacrifice,” http://www.cddwestafrica.org/index.php/en/reports/cat_view/1-governance-security-and-development. The United Nation while ratifying this day emphasized on enlightenment and re-orientation. These have to be holistic, crossing from the super rich to the super poor. While vigorously pursuing education for all, eradication of extreme poverty in developing countries should be given renewed attention. Unemployment causes many to stray into the waiting hands of eccentric rebel who catch on their state of lack to buy their loyalty. We sure can achieve a nonviolent world, but it world start by putting food on every man’s table and giving him a sense of belonging. Loans should not just be given but monitored to end in the right purpose. Corruption is also an albatross to peaceful coexistence; governmental institutions should be strengthened to monitor developmental project compliance.
The citizens must be given a sense of belonging to participate in government and chose for themselves the country’s representatives in a transparent, peaceful and democratically acceptable manner. Today, a huge number of youths in what has been termed ‘Umbrella Revolution’ are occupying Central Park in Hong Kong, demanding for an inclusive democracy. One can only hope it does not get too violent before the government listen to its people. Peace is not abstract, it is visual.
Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni writes from Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja. Reply and observations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter handle @sanity0407
The article is in commemoration of United Nation’s NonViolence Day, October 2nd, 2014.
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