Peace is one of those simple things in life that most do not care to really understand because, well, it is a word so often used, and dare I say, so often misused. It’s like the basic rules guiding our usage of John Bull’s tongue which we mostly overlook because it is so commonly spoken, and so we eventually never give due diligence to it and we never truly know it, let alone understand it. Thus, we inadvertently embrace many a misconception about the English language, facilities and all.
More than a mere absence of strife or war or conflict, peace is a state of mind. Or at least, there we must get it right first if we want the real deal made manifest in the world about us. We have placed a burden so great upon peace, hinging its existence upon a perfect health, a job that just keeps the bucks rolling in, a stunning wife, a billionaire Aristo, pots in the belly, a table with foods so assorted and so colourful, an absence of pain and sorrow and discomfort. We cling too much to the external that it comes to bear upon things like joy in our hearts and peace in our minds – things we actually can choose to have irrespective of how messed up things are. On the other hand, that we refuse to let what happens on the outside unsettle us calls not for blindness to the state of events – peace is not complacency or lethargy. It’s the battle without the incessant worry, the fear without the giving in to it, the anger without the bitterness, the love without holding back, the sorrow and the pain lived with courage even whilst a rather anodyne state is sought.
We love scapegoating, you see. It gives us the justification we need to stay blind to the root of the problem. The power lines are downed with some unsolicited help and we blame the high-powered individual-in-charge and then we go home and do nothing about the child who has all the care in this world for everything and everyone inasmuch as they serve him. Heads roll and blood flows like the currents of the plagued Nile and we decry the innocent lives wasted and call for ‘peace’. And then we walk past the scamming youth and the erring student without as much as a word of advice. Little things we call them – just one lie, just a few thousand; it’s just a few hours I spend outside the home; it’s just a life – but it is the lie that went unpunished that birthed the high-powered individual, in charge of the power lines. It’s the few thousand that fed the greed and became a couple of billions. It is in those few hours of neglect that our sons and daughters gave in to decay. Yet, we cry ‘Peace in all the land!’, ‘love in your hearts!’. We must stand before the proverbial mirror and assail ourselves with harsher words than we direct at others, and then live lives that do not bespeak lip service. By all means, the truth must be spoken. Evil must be denounced and peace must be advocated. But every so often, may we stay our weary vocal folds and let our actions speak – they get the job done so much more effectively. For if there must be five and I bring the two I have, and my brother scrapes up the three he can give, we have enough to bring forth peace.
Peace is many things to many people. To the African two-year-old who lost father and mother to the greed and intolerance of his kith and kin, it may be a call for ceasefire. To the Syrians and Iraquis, perhaps just a day without the sounds of gunfire and blasts would represent such profound peace, even if only for a while. To the battering husband and the battered wife, it may be chains for the beast in human skin. But chains break, ceasefires do cease, and the day does come to an end; but when a heart chooses the love, as true as it is cliché, with every breath he draws, with it comes tolerance and self control, hope and strength, brotherhood, humanity, selflessness and fulfillment; with it comes trust and peace – a lasting peace.
Written By Pendical
School: University of Ibadan