In an era when many isms, sexism, racism, terrorism, ageism and even feminism – seem to engender acrimony, I can only ponder whether living in peace is an unattainable ideal.
While socially most people appreciate a person who’s passed away can hopefully ‘rest in peace’, being alive is often bedevilled by angst, anger and apathy, a bellicose inner life that stops a peaceful existence.
These negative psychologies can rage within, our superficial demeanour a masquerade for more profound problems.
With suicide, family violence and mental health issues disturbingly increasing, living in peace does not appear on our agenda. Instead we broadcast every depressing and destructive discontent on Twitter, believing that just spelling it out will erase it from our psyche, indulging in flagellation of others (and ourselves) to enhance our pleasure; however sadly sadistic and transient. We aspire to perfection but abuse our imperfections, failing to acknowledge that being less than perfect is more human and real.
Living contrary to a pacifist philosophy permeated many of my younger years, unable to clarify why my behaviour and feelings contradicted my more noble aspirations. An internal civil war underpinned many of my relationships with family, friends and lovers as I attempted perfection in all aspects of life.
Suppressing reality, albeit unconsciously, in pursuit of living perfectly only manifested as disappointment and distress. But thinking about my contradictions, conflicts and confusions, recording them in a diary and reading books by a variety of psychological pundits, I realised I was fighting a war within as a result of social conditioning, familial demands and unrealistic ideals about being perfect; never making a mistake, never having a hair out of place and never uttering an angry word.
I was a liar, deluded that I was a peaceful human being when a war was raging inside, out of sight, intangible and disguised by material success, unable to genuinely live in peace because wanting perfection interfered.
In Notes on Pacifism, Albert Einstein wisely worded that “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding”.
One might believe wars only involve guns, mortars and missiles, but many of us fight a war with ourselves, oft projected on the isms, however imperceptible.
Having faith to live in peace should be paramount, attending to the thought of US President Harry S. Truman who advocated: “Our goal must be-not peace in our time- but peace for all time”, in life as much as death.