I’m disappointed today. Not really. Yesterday was World Peace Day… again. And again today there is no world peace… still. Rather ironic isn’t it? Inasmuch as irony is a form of humor, then I think tackling this topic ought to furnish us with a fanciful farce of futility for our Funny Friday.
To begin with, the illusion of a World Peace Day (observed on September 21st each year) was first initiated in 1982 at the behest of a United Nations General Assembly resolution from 1981. So, for thirty-five years now the world has been pro-actively focused on world peace. Hasn’t it? Well, you’d have to think the UN has anyway, right? I wonder, is anyone talking about the same thing?
Why is this funny? Mainly because in just the last 10 years the world has become incrementally less peaceful year after year. There’s another group out there known as the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). Their stated mission is (italicized parenthetical statements are mine): “an independent (self-sufficient, eh?), non-partisan (as if), non-profit (somebody is paying their salaries and bills) think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable and tangible measure of human well-being and progress." In the IEP's latest report, only 11 countries (of 162 available) were not involved in conflicts of some kind. My, my, good job everybody!
So, if all these people are all gung-ho for world peace, then why is the world getting less peaceful? To me, it boils down to the keyword: CONFLICT. Now given that conflict is the very essence of drama, a theatre guy like me has a vested interest in having conflict continue if for no other reason than it is a premium subject matter. Ergo, logical conclusions would suggest that I (and my ilk) must be the reason that there is no world peace. Then surely “peacefully” eliminating all fiction writers and those dramatists who are ultimately responsible (and champions) for bringing those conflicts to stage, cinema or television would solve the problem, right? Clearly, if nobody ever wrote about it, then conflicts would ultimately simply evaporate by mere lack of sufficient advertising. Wouldn’t it? If there were no stories about conflict then children would never fight over toys. Boys wouldn’t fight with and over girls. Neighbors wouldn’t fight over property disputes and all your co-workers would love their jobs, their bosses and the companies that compete against them. Why yes PollyAnna, I certainly think there could be world peace after all.
Hold on a minute. Doesn’t a whole lot of observable evidence suggest that conflict betwixt humans is a natural course of life? Our goal then is to try to discover what is at the root of conflict, and when we have identified the problem, we can take the necessary steps to eradicate that. Isn’t that how it’s done?
Good luck with that. There is actually a historical dogma prevalent among (I’ll contend the majority of) writers and philosophers, beginning with Homer and continuing to our present age, postulating that war is rooted in particular aspects of human nature that are ineradicable. Essentially you begin to get the idea that humans are somehow inclined toward killing each other and furthermore, given the elevated amount of human killing, must be getting some morbid sense of satisfaction from doing it.
Until someone can explain how learned people will view the exact same information and intelligently arrive at completely contrary conclusions, then you cannot propose a resolution to conflict. So, if human nature (on the world stage) is beyond correction, it serves that the convictions that lead to conflicts, that lead to wars, are ultimately inevitable. And even if you could find an appropriate platform in order to present this solution for all these human foibles, the evidence further suggests that you’re likely to find many, if not most, completely disagreeing (i.e. in conflict) with your whole premise. Personally, I’m of the opinion we’ve had talking on the topic for far too long. When will we begin seeing this premise of world peace in action?
It seems hard to argue then, unless you’re just inclined to be stubborn, with the assessments made pertaining to human nature by English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) that tends to encapsulate a particular view of human nature.
From the noteworthy work, “De Cive”, Hobbes asserts that man is by nature a self-seeking, egoistic creature, who cares only for others in accordance to how they minister his own satisfaction. This doesn’t bode well for an individual who believes world peace is attainable because, in reality, the base man is not interested in any well-being that would negatively impact him, or his loved ones. This is far from high praise and lends credence to this Will Ferrell joke;
Hobbes further purports that it is man’s inherent selfishness which induces him to lash out against his neighbors and blatantly encroach upon the rights of others whenever and wherever it best suits his purposes to do so. As such it is only by being driven from a continual fear and danger of violent death (perhaps even eternal damnation) that will compel men to act wholly against their nature and do something that could be deemed selfless. Namely, to go against their inclinations toward self-interest and devise societies and governments that would embrace a semblance of “justice for all”. Of course the caveat provisions for special privilege and entitlement beyond the “common man” would need to be devised as well.
Hobbes concludes that man is a wolf to his fellow man. The concept has also been described by the poet Robert Burns as: “Man’s inhumanity to man”. Concerns over individual rights, obligations or duties arise only when there is a perceived power outside of a man himself which is capable of imposing punishments and ultimate death upon him. Hobbes concludes “covenants without the sword are but words, and of no strength to secure a man at all”.
The unfortunate truth of the matter is there is money, a lot of money, to be made in wars. Muslim terrorists aren’t as dedicated to Islam as they are to Benjamin Franklins. And when the Franklins run dry so does the passion for pestilence of any oppressor. Ideologies of progressives, conservatives, hate mongers and idealists are merely what is deviously manipulated to promote conflict. And when you have established for yourself a good conflict, like “let’s all hate the Jews for no good reason” the war isn’t far behind. Only when there is a profit for someone will world peace become a reality. Man’s nature still has to be taken into account and it’s only when someone (usually in the form of an oppressor or dictator or both) finally proclaims “All for Me and Theft from All Others” will the world peace concept gain any real traction.
Now that’s pretty funny, ain’t it?
Your grumpy old geezer