What is peace?

It is a late August morning in 2014.  I am in Washington Square Park, New York City; it is one of the brightest, sunniest days to date.  Half way around the world in Donetsk, Ukraine, it is one of the darkest, deadliest of days.  It is the same in so many great cities and small towns around the world — Aleppo, Syria; Mariupol, Ukraine; Mosul, Iraq; Benghazi, Libya; Islamabad, Pakistan; Gaza City, Gaza;  Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Israel, and, unfortunately, the list keeps growing.  War with its ever present companions, Death and Destruction, dominate the news in 2014.

So on this bright, peace-filled moment in this great city I paused to ask what is peace.  The definition is not easily found or defined.  Is it the absence of war or something more?  Peace, to me, is a struggle to keep your life and the world from exploding and collapsing around you; it is the ability to find the path to recreate your world even as it is collapsing, whether it is of a personal or global nature.  Let me explain.

On a personal basis when we lose someone we love, whether expected through illness or an unforeseen event, each of us struggles to find the path to a future without that person; for some that struggle can be overwhelming.  In our relationships with our community and the greater world it can be and is a much more complicated matter.  Even if we live in a peaceful corner of the world, as I do, when we read in the newspaper or turn on the radio and hear of the stories of man-made death and human degradation that abound we are likewise overwhelmed; death and destruction are at arm’s length, but alive and well.

I believe that the secret to finding peace within and without is to realize that we are not alone.  Each of us will suffer the profound loss of a parent, a child, a husband or wife, or a friend.  It is the natural order of life for all creatures, great and small.  To acknowledge that loss and to acknowledge that those who are far away and unrelated suffer with a similar loss is to acknowledge that suffering is universal and that we are all part of this one body called the human race.  To alleviate that suffering is to affirm life over death.  To add to that suffering through acts of war is to add to a man-made chaos which can and will destroy life if not physically then psychically.  

To accept the world as it is, warts and all, as the saying goes, is part of the struggle to attain peace.  The struggle for peace in human relationships is an ongoing struggle to understand perceived wrongs and to right them.  This is an on-going process as times change, situations change and lives change.

On September 21, 2014 let us explore ways we can change the world for ourselves and for those who struggle and suffer in war-torn regions; if we share the belief that we do not suffer and struggle alone, we need to understand those causes which lead to conflict and what can be done short of war to address those ills.

Let us come together to explore ways to end war as the means of resolving conflict.

Let us end the suffering that war entails. 

Let us commit ourselves to the struggle for peace.

Please join Pasos in exploring ways in which you, your family and friends can make a difference.


By Siegrid Raible

Siegrid (Siggy) Raible is a member of the Pasos Peace Museum Advisory Board, Philosophy and Political Science graduate of Hunter College and an experienced Office Manager of a Law Firm. Her passions include a dedication to the arts, veteran’s affairs, health issues and activities that promote peace and social justice.

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