Amb. Halima Mallum
Ed. 169/ 19.05.2021
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa.
Little wonder peace is often accompanied by preambles to denote the sense in which it is perceived. Peace could be personal, societal, world peace, or even eternal peace. Howbeit whatever sense one may perceive it, the consensus is that people around the world are constantly in different ways searching for peace and go to extraordinary lengths to get it.
Perhaps what might have escaped many is that these different senses in which peace is perceived are interconnected. The absence of one will ultimately lead to the lack of the other. For instance, personal peace means different things to different individuals. To the child in an IDP camp in Borno, it could be the end of hostilities, or the freedom to return home without fear, to the victims of trauma, it could simply mean closure or healing, to the farmers in North-Western Nigeria, it could be the freedom from kidnappers and bandits, and yet still to the hustlers in Lagos, it could be the joy of making sales or progress. To others, it could be the absence of persecution and discrimination based on political, religious, or ethnic background. Yet, others feel it is the joy of meeting their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. But whatever the perception one has, the truth remains that peace is undoubtedly a moment preferred to than the absence of it.
The absence or lack of this “personal” peace will lead to a disruption of societal harmony, which poses a threat to world peace. The individual without food would seek it at all cost and could debase to illegal means; the individual who has been pegged back by discrimination might want to fight back, so is the individual trying to make ends meet. Duplication of these happenings in multiple societies of the world signals a disruption of world peace.
No doubt, all the variables of personal peace are what many considered “personal issues.” Problems like; divorce, unemployment, poverty, hunger and a host of others are personal problems that could very well become significant “public issues” in many societies across the world. For instance, when the rate of divorce in society is about 10%, food security at 10%, unemployment increases to 20%. The people living below the poverty line is also 20%, you now have a staggering 60% of the population hag-ridden by the so-called “personal issues,” with only 40% in a state of tranquility, could such a society stay peaceful? Certainly not, and yet all these are personal problems of individuals. Any society with more than half of its populace ensnared by personal tragedies has a full-blown crisis of societal peace. With an increasing number of such societies in different countries, world peace becomes a mirage. This is because global peace is all about harmony and cohesion across world societies, and it is not hard to see that all war-torn countries are struggling with similar problems of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, and discrimination, contrary to popular belief that it is the war that brought these problems.
The fundamental question now becomes how do we attain harmony across the societies of the world? The answer is not far-fetched, and as far as the conversation on world peace is concerned, two dominant views oscillate the answers as one believes that a house can be built from the roof, and some of us believe that a house should be built from and laid on a solid foundation. It is sufficient to state that any attempt to tackle peace at the societal level is futile if the personal issues of peace are not first tackled. A teeming population of unemployed youths are potential rent crowds and hooligans at the beck and call of politicians with low IQ, or might even seek other illegal means to find peace out of their situation, as the adage goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” So is a hungry society a fertile ground for discord and a marginalized society a breeding ground for hate and discrimination. Hence the need to embrace meritocracy and put aside the system of systematic nepotism.
Finally, it is evident that the pandemic has exposed many weaknesses in the world’s system, and massive inequality is top. We should aim at building a society where people who work hard can and should be able to earn enough to cater to their needs. It is about time International Organizations divert their attention from attaining world peace as the United Nations slogan entails, to helping individuals attain personal peace through individual sustainable development goals. There is an ever-growing need to address food insecurity, youth unemployment, discrimination, and a host of other problems. When we have more individuals attain personal peace, societal and world peace will follow suit, it goes without saying that each sustains the other. At an individual level, we can start by giving emotional support to people in dire need. As it is with personal problems, when we have more than 60% of the population making individual efforts to help one another, the effort translates to a larger scale.
However, I am not under the delusion that a zero-conflict society is attainable, but we could have more communities of the world living in peace and harmony than we not. This can be achieved when we target personal peace, which is a condition precedent for any peace we want to achieve. My perception of peace is security and sufficiency in oneself and the freedom to resist external influences. Personal peace is a condition precedent to any form of peace, and we could help attain it by reaching out to the unreached. I believe this is possible.
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