Hi, my name is Dr. Andrea Paras from the University of Guelph, and today I’m answering the question, “Could there really be world peace?”
It’s really hard to imagine the possibility of world peace when we read about horrific human rights abuses in Tibet, the brutal civil war in Syria, or the violent protests taking place right now in the Ukraine. It seems impossible for such huge problems to be completely eliminated.
Nevertheless, I don’t think that we should give up on the idea of world peace. There are many cases in history of seemingly impossible changes taking place that have resulted in more justice, equality, and peace. For instance, these days it might be hard to believe that slavery was a socially acceptable form of labour for centuries.
Britain used slavery as a means to secure its dominance in trans-Atlantic trade and expand its empire. Between 1662 and 1807, approximately 3.3 million Africans were packed tightly into ships that made the dangerous crossing from the slave forts on the west coast of Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas, and then they were sold into a lifetime of bondage. It was considered completely normal to capture, buy, and sell humans in order to have a cheap labour force. Yet, over a relatively short time, activists successfully brought about the end of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807, and the abolishment of slavery in 1837.
While human trafficking is still a problem in many parts of the world, it is now considered a crime, and it would be hard to imagine a world where slavery could be acceptable by the majority of people. Here’s another example: Mahatma Gandhi used non-violent methods of resistance to advocate for India’s independence from Britain, as well as to fight against racial and caste discrimination. At the time, it must have seemed impossible for the British to ever release their colonial domination over India, but ultimately the struggle for independence was successful. Gandhi’s philosophy of ahimsa, which means “doing no harm,” has inspired countless non-violent protest movements ever since.
If there’s one thing we can learn from history, it’s that it’s nearly impossible to make accurate predictions about what the future might hold. Even though world peace seems like a huge, unattainable goal, we should hold on to the belief that change is always possible. Furthermore, if world peace is something that we want to see in the future, it needs to begin at the individual level. We can create peace in the world by acting every day in a kind and compassionate way to each person in our lives. Are you willing to tolerate a fight with your brother or sister? Are you willing to find common ground with someone despite your differences? As the Dalai Lama recently said to a meeting of business leaders at the American Enterprise Institute, “Peace comes through our actions, not through wishful thinking.” This is a great challenge for each of us, and the true beginning of world peace.« RETURN TO THE QUESTIONS