Maybe the concept of peace is as old as human history. However, the idea of peace; none the less entangled with another phenomenon that is war. I once heard a story from a Japanese-born American professor whose primary focus is studying peace, Anthropology of peace, to be precise. He told us a story that he heard from the curator of the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Museum. The story is “once former president of the united states Donald Trump was visiting the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Museum, and the curator was showing him around. The museum is full of visuals, artifacts, and personal accounts of the atomic bomb victims. The architect of Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims is Akira Kuryu. The design is breathtakingly simple and engaging. The premises of the Peace park is designed in such a way that after finishing the tour, the visitor may feel like they sit in the open, catching a breath and having their own space to reflect on the ‘experience’ they just had. To go to the open space, visitors had to take spiral stairs. While the curator diligently showed the president around, the president allegedly said, ‘why so many stairs? I need to go the toilet’. The curator was shocked, though politely handling the need of the president. The story ends.”
History tells us that the fate of the many has often been subject to the will of the few. Though cross-cultural examples often showcase that in many ‘indigenous’ communities, the idea and practice of conflict resolutions are inherent to the culture. I am not referring to any romantic past but rather trying to show that people are different in this world, and their co-existence has been negotiated culturally. The twentieth century was one of the war-torn centuries which marked the explosion of the invention of the weapon of mass destruction and the birth of new nation-states. Interestingly this century also gave us a standard form of globalization and a global body of collaboration.
Nonetheless, globalization also showcased the inherent disparity based on economy, access to resources, race, ethnicity, gender, and so on. Paradoxically it seems global communication is at its peak in human history. Every local conflict, event, incident, or crisis can become global in seconds. I like to think that even 1000 years ago, was it possible for the Covid-19 pandemic to be international? I guess not.
In the twenty-first century, the vision of a united humankind as professed after WW2 also seems paradoxical. On the one hand, some are stepping towards the colonization of Mars, and most are suffering from proper daily intake of nutrition. The old WAR seemed to transform into economic, information, and technological warfare, and we may start to think that there would be no physical warfare anymore, suggesting that no life will be lost, no life will be in despair. Though the recent crisis in Ukraine, Global Warming, and the Covid-19 pandemic remind us we are connected, the cost is life, the planet. In this century, it is even frighteningly possible that for the benefit of the few, the entire human race, life on this planet may be eradicated. Yes, human beings are different, and that is the beauty of it. And let me remind us that we are not the only habitat of this planet. To take the universe to be human-centric is utter foolishness. And to find another planet for all of us is quite difficult, and to move there will not be pleasant for us, I can guarantee that. If you look at the history of human migration, you can see that. Thus, most of us have only this planet to live a lifetime. To prosper, coexist to die peacefully, we have nothing but peace. No matter how vague a word it is across cultures, we need peace as a form of collective survival.