Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
If you were to pose the general question – “What does peace look like?” – individual responses would vary. You would hear descriptive words such as: tranquility, utopia, harmony, serenity, absence of war and conflict. I would assert that these adjective are also instinctive responses. Let’s delve a little deeper into this question as it was asked of us during our Rotary Peace Center Conflict Resolution Class recently.
But first, let’s define peace. Per Webster’s Dictionary: “peace is a state of tranquility or quiet; freedom from civil disturbance; a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom”. John Gultung, the father of peace studies, states that there is negative peace (absence of war) and positive peace (restoration of a community). I always thought that world peace would be desirable, beneficial and something that everyone would revel in. One of my instructors inserted some doubt in my mind. She stated that not all people would want peace. She further elaborated that it may eliminate the opportunity to support a family if the bread winner’s income revolves around manufacturing weapons. I have been pondering this for the past few days, and after doing my own research I thought to myself, “she’s right!” Statistics show that in 2012 world military expenditure had reached $1.756 trillion. Many people’s livelihood would be eliminated if world peace existed.
Then, I thought of other avenues in which jobs could be created with the absence of war, and here are a few. If there were world peace, the world would need to educate and employ more peace keepers/conflict resolution professionals to sustain the calm. Military expenditure could be attributed to educating those peace professionals. Also, some of the funds that were earmarked for military could be used to reduce and eventually eradicate worldwide hunger. Agricultural Specialists would have to address how the soil in different regions would directly relate to the various type of produce that would be cultivated and individuals who would take on such a gargantuan task would have to be hired. Renewable energy such as windmill fields and solar panels need engineers, planners and developers to implement these initiatives and this would contribute to the workforce. With the presence of peace, and the quelled sense of terrorist reprisal, I believe that hesitant travelers like myself, would then be eager to fly abroad. This would translate into an opportunity to hire more travel agents, airline and TSA employees. If time permitted, I believe there is a multitude of creative ideas that could be submitted.
But, before I turn this blog into a brief lecture, let me tell you what I believe that peace would look like. Today I visited Christ Church in Bangkok, Thailand. The church is aesthetically beautiful, the service was very nice and the sermon enlightening. The worshipers ranged from infancy to approximately ninety years of age. The ages weren’t the only diverse aspect of these church goers. This church was unlike the Christian Churches in which I had been affiliated with for the past forty-eight years. In those churches, 99% of the worshipers looked similar to me, Africa American. Christ Church was quite the contrast. Please do not take this as a subliminal message that I am trying to influence anyone to seek a particular religious affiliation, this is not my aim. I was impressed by the various ethnicities, nationalities and cultural diversity which were represented in this worship setting. I saw and spoke with individuals who were from Asian, African, European, Indian and a host of other descents. Everyone was getting along very well, wishing goodwill and prosperity towards one another. So to respond to the aforementioned question of what does peace looks like? It looks like Christ Church on a grand, international scale. I know that positive, progressive, sustainable peace is a lofty goal, but so was space exploration. The idea that we could all live in a harmonious society, utilize military funding in a more positive direction, inclusive with the ability to continue to sustain our families is an idea that should be continuously discussed and work towards manifesting into reality!
LaMonte Adams, United States
Rotary Peace Fellow
January 2014 Session