In a world in which we aspire towards achieving an ultimate welfare of peace, it is important to ask ourselves what that means. Welfare of peace can be defined as a well-functioning government system, where people are capable of exercising their right to self-determination as well as an acceptance of the rights of others. COVID-19 has shifted our world. Undoubtedly, the sense of uncertainty and political instability reigned over the world. Now more than ever, it is important to restore cohesion. While tearing people apart, physically, the pandemic has also brought communities together in spirit, arguably like never before. We have witnessed people from different backgrounds unionising to help each other. The global influence of larger powers on less funded states providing vaccination materials, the financing of medical research, the courageous medical workers throwing themselves in the fray as first responders are all examples of peacebuilding that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Genuine “World Peace”, meaning a concept of an ideal state of happiness, freedom and voluntary consensus – is theoretically possible. At the end of the day, it is imaginable that the pursuit of happiness for people is the ultimate goal of peace. While communities have created networks of mutual support and cooperation, many institutions whose foundations are built upon peacekeeping, have failed to harness the already existing structures. These foundations are predominantly upheld through consistent funding. However, as with the last two years, where institutions such as the United Nations Development Programme’s research have been focused on COVID recovery, other aspects of their work have lacked focus.
When it comes to furthering an extent of world order, the only limitation is the rhetoric used when it comes to understanding the various communities in question. One of the solutions would be to focus on intersectional issues that apply to small minorities. “Her” and “His” issues should not prevail. “That does not apply to me” should not be the narrative. Internalising historical struggles only tears people apart, and cooperation and unity is key to maintaining some sort of expectation of peace. For example, the problem with categorizing women as a vulnerable minority group. Calling upon women’s passivity and helplessness only denies them the power in the process of change. In light of third-wave feminism and the rejection of biological determinism, a new narrative of redefining “womanhood” has been put forward. While arguably, this can be a threat to women as an entity, looking from another perspective, this is a step closer to acceptance in the right of self-determination and the exercise of the human right to identity. A reaction to portraying women as vulnerable in recent years has been an over glorification of women’s role as fighters in support of violent extremist groups, which only hinders their capacity and role as peacebuilders.
The narrative we use matters. Words shape mindsets and mindsets shape approaches and outcomes. To be more precise, there is an important distinction between a vulnerable person and a person living in a vulnerable circumstance. When we talk about terrorism, wars on the basis of religion, extremist nationalism, hate crime, the monopoly of some states and lack of resources of others, we forget about the root cause of all instability. When we define people by their circumstances, we fail to engage with them as multidimensional beings. It’s time for “us” as an international society to stop using ‘vulnerability’ as a means of defining the people it entails.
In a democratic system of government, self-determination triumph, whereby people are able to make conscious choices when it comes to exercising their rights, As the Vietnam War raged in 1969, John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono held two week-long Bed-ins for Peace at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam, which was intended to be a non-violent protest against wars, and an experimental test of new ways to promote peace. As goes in the song “Imagine” by John Lennon, “Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too”. When violence occurs, it is usually because of people’s incentives, which depend on their beliefs. But incentives and beliefs can change in a flash. Democracies do not generally go to war against each other. These leaders have strong incentives to maintain the peace, where information flows freely, enabling people to find conflict-free paths, increasing accountability and legitimacy of those in power. As self-government, self-determination as well as freedom of speech prevail, world peace becomes more feasible.
In brief, only “World Peace” driven by an acknowledgment of the threat to everyone’s survival is the most likely source of unification for a shortsighted humanity, where we or those around us aren’t currently able to see or think beyond the immediate. This is something young people are now being taught, be it in school or university – predicting global trends is a matter of acknowledging history as a pivotal learning ground. There is so much hope for our generation to be the one to bring about change, and in my opinion, that entails tolerance – the recognition of everyone’s opinion and story.