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Gandhi's world of peace
By Balamurali Balaji*
Overview
Over many centuries, world civilization has witnessed countless instances of warfare, battles, and conflicts duly capable of employing the power of transmuting the human kind into forms what the emperors and rulers had never thought of. There existed peerless and rarest men among the human species who preached and practiced theories of peace that made the human race to evolve into a more enlightened genre living of what he is today on this planet.
Mahatma Gandhi is the greatest apostle of peace the world has seen after Buddha and Christ. His notion of peace is centered on nonviolence, individualism, soul force and forgiveness. At first glance, global peace initiatives might be perceived as far-flung methodologies that have wholly diverged from his ideologies. Many modern researchers and philosophers feel that today's conflicts are far more complex, so as their solutions. Global peace, global citizen, neo-modern trends and global issues have placed Gandhi at the backseat of the global forum.
But, there exists a fundamental correlation of what Gandhi had said and what the world is doing these days to combat violence and bring peace. This paper tries to find the relevance of Gandhi's dictum and how his ideologies can be put in current day’s global peace initiatives. It also traverses through various dimensions of peace one could think of in upholding global peace at micro, individualistic levels.

Global Peace
World peace is defined as an ideal of freedom, peace, and happiness among and within all nations and/or people. It generally includes an idea of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that prevents warfare.  Today, peace has predominantly become political work towards settlement of issues between the nations through military involvement, cessation of arms and weapons and dialogue on less-violent, civilian matters. Peace has also included some humanitarian efforts that stretch its helping hands to the calamity-hit regions in the world.World peace is defined as an ideal of freedom, peace, and happiness among and within all nations and/or people. It generally includes an idea of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that prevents warfare. Today, peace has predominantly become political work towards settlement of issues between the nations through military involvement, cessation of arms and weapons and dialogue on less-violent, civilian matters. Peace has also included some humanitarian efforts that stretch its helping hands to the calamity-hit regions in the world.
Today, governments worldwide have not used much of democratic means to maintain peace, rather bound to display their military character and power to settle down issues that disturbed peace. They often fail to realize the fact that violence erupts at the social level, commutes to the political level and seeking a resolution finally at the military level. Diplomatic efforts have become more so customary and ineffective in front of military powers. The economic status of the nations too plays a crucial role in determining the degree of success of any peace initiative.
Gandhi is not seen in this platform of world peace. His ideologies remain neglected at the global forum and are considered as a tonic for social and cultural development only. As he is known as the Father of the nation politically, economically his dictum stands as a medicine merely for building local economy. Global communities have not come and thought of Gandhi as a "solution provider", "conflict breaker" or even as a peace activist. World peace continues to be at the hands of world powers that use violence and warfare. Indeed the situation is so grim that even a global peace campaigner is quite plausibly to localize and narrow down himself and his campaign giving in to the pressures and rigid policies of the governments.
Today political leaders take chances of peace in their hands and play a role in making or breaking the nations. Nations engage in dialogue and negotiations to settle down their ethnic problems and border issues. Political, diplomatic and media powers contribute their part to facilitate this peace process but hatred and hostilities dominate the situation as peace is not achieved at the individual levels. World governments fail to identify the key personals and power-centers that govern the war frameworks and conflict centers. Dialogues are meant for mutual understanding, not for nurturing hatred and obscuring manipulations. They shall not give the slightest chance for eruption of violence or war by both the military and the militant or rebel groups. Misrepresentation and shallow understanding of conflicts between the groups within a country and between the countries rather complicates the situation. Changing political conditions shall not set hurdles in the ongoing conflict resolution process.
Gandhi said, "If we have no charity, and no tolerance, we shall never settle our differences amicably and must therefore always submit to the arbitration of a third party." Many of today's conflict management techniques and resolution process have a clear shadow of what and how Gandhi had seen inter-national issues in his times. A war-hunger nation has nothing in this world whilst a starving nation needs every kind of help from the world. A nation endangering peace in the world has no security for itself.
Peace can never be achieved by one-dimensional and unilateral talks or efforts. It has numerous facets of social, ethnical, religious and political elements and copious ways to deal with them to bring and stabilize worsened situations under control. The true character of a conflict must be identified and may perhaps be attributed any of those hidden elements. Gandhi's perception of bringing peace and resolving conflict had such a diversified point of interest every time when he insisted on taking fast to bring hostile situation under control. Whether there is a riot in the eastern Bengal or unrest in the north-western part of India, peace lived in his soul consciously demanding him to take on fast even if he resides in another corner of the country. Thus, peace becomes universal and eternal.
In the following paragraphs, his views on peace, as he wrote or said on various occasions when violence and warfare prevailed over nonviolence and peace in the world.
Today, governments worldwide have not used much of democratic means to maintain peace, rather bound to display their military character and power to settle down issues that disturbed peace.  They often fail to realize the fact that violence erupts at the social level, commutes to the political level and seeking a resolution finally at the military level. Diplomatic efforts have become more so customary and ineffective in front of military powers. The economic status of the nations too plays a crucial role in determining the degree of success of any peace initiative.
Gandhi is not seen in this platform of world peace. His ideologies remain neglected at the global forum and are considered as a tonic for social and cultural development only. As he is known as the Father of the nation politically, economically his dictum stands as a medicine merely for building local economy. Global communities have not come and thought of Gandhi as a “solution provider”, “conflict breaker” or even as a peace activist. World peace continues to be at the hands of world powers that use violence and warfare. Indeed the situation is so grim that even a global peace campaigner is quite plausibly to localize and narrow down himself and his campaign giving in to the pressures and rigid policies of the governments.
Today political leaders take chances of peace in their hands and play a role in making or breaking the nations. Nations engage in dialogue and negotiations to settle down their ethnic problems and border issues. Political, diplomatic and media powers contribute their part to facilitate this peace process but hatred and hostilities dominate the situation as peace is not achieved at the individual levels.  World governments fail to identify the key personals and power-centers that govern the war frameworks and conflict centers. Dialogues are meant for mutual understanding, not for nurturing hatred and obscuring manipulations. They shall not give the slightest chance for eruption of violence or war by both the military and the militant or rebel groups. Misrepresentation and shallow understanding of conflicts between the groups within a country and between the countries rather complicates the situation. Changing political conditions shall not set hurdles in the ongoing conflict resolution process.
Gandhi said, “If we have no charity, and no tolerance, we shall never settle our differences amicably and must therefore always submit to the arbitration of a third party.” Many of today’s conflict management techniques and resolution process have a clear shadow of what and how Gandhi had seen inter-national issues in his times. A war-hunger nation has nothing in this world whilst a starving nation needs every kind of help from the world. A nation endangering peace in the world has no security for itself.
Peace can never be achieved by one-dimensional and unilateral talks or efforts. It has numerous facets of social, ethnical, religious and political elements and copious ways to deal with them to bring and stabilize worsened situations under control. The true character of a conflict must be identified and may perhaps be attributed any of those hidden elements. Gandhi’s perception of bringing peace and resolving conflict had such a diversified point of interest every time when he insisted on taking fast to bring hostile situation under control. Whether there is a riot in the eastern Bengal or unrest in the north-western part of India, peace lived in his soul consciously demanding him to take on fast even if he resides in another corner of the country. Thus, peace becomes universal and eternal.
In the following paragraphs, his views on peace, as he wrote or said on various occasions when violence and warfare prevailed over nonviolence and peace in the world.

Truth - "Indeed a civilian resister offers resistance only when peace becomes impossible" - Mahatma Gandhi
How truthful these words are even today! Global peace has a minutest message from these wise words which could unfold itself into broader perspectives; a civilian government fighting with its own rebel citizens to uphold peace in a country; or, an highly civilized, democratized nation striving to fight cross-border conflicts with its neighbors to maintain peace in the region; or an individual civilian endeavoring into micro-level actions to build or to be part of a peaceful society; Hence, peace becomes life for everyone and everything in the world. Even a civilian’s economic needs mount into greater pressure at times, creating economic warfare that disturbs peaceful living.

Nation
Let the leaders of the nations ask a question to themselves in a global forum. How much of arms and weapons countries need in order to secure her from growing tensions? What exactly it means for a country to accept nuclear arms and chemical weapons? Are they really needed and if so, how much is needed?
Let the same leaders of the nations ask a question to themselves individually, privately talking closer to their hearts. How much of justice and tolerance countries do in order to maintain peace and harmony in their regions? What exactly would bring peace to a country devoid of war or violence as a means? Even after war, how much of peace is left to us?
It is a choice of means at crucial times. It is a choice of decisive, nonviolent approach towards peace at odd times. And, not many nations try to put themselves in such a thoughtful state when the situation arises. They fail to go with peace and surrender to other forces. The political, economic states of affairs of the nation swiftly take precedence amid promising hopes for peace.
Gandhi elegantly put this as a notion for nations who love peace and harmony: “Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.”

Religion and Spirituality
More than half of the fighting occurring in the world is caused due to quarrel between religious groups. Inter-religion and intra-religion differences are not new; but they get aggravated and become inexorable owing to the political differences and advantages. A fight for a natural resource easily turns into a religious-rage when there is a mixture of various religions in a particular region. A battle over the right to use a resource in a region is often fought with the existing feud in faith and beliefs of the people.
In the recent decades, Islamic world - more particularly in the middle-east Asian countries, various sects of the Muslim people have indulged in battles. The inter-religious differences among the groups rose to the level of destructing each other sending devastating waves to the entire region.  A careful study on the conflict on this region would reveal the truth about how incongruent and corrupt political systems kindle the religious feelings of the people. The differences in economic and political structures in these nations have taken toll the true character of the Islamic religion. As Gandhi put it, “The very word Islam means peace, which is Nonviolence.  Without prayer there is no inward peace.” Their prayers have become just an integral part of a religion’s rituals rather than promoting peace among the people. Religious leaders continue to preach harmony but not the peace that tranquilizes the region.
Striving hard to find peace from within our thought and mind is a tool for attaining peace where as the usage of arms and violent force will end up cleanly as a demon for destruction. Each one of us finds happiness in practicing some spiritual exercise that gives us a short-time relief from day-to-day pressures. The central power of peace as many people believe lies in the practice of spirituality. We try to fight with the outside world full of fuss and chaos and finally resort to the spiritual way of seeking inner peace. Some of us are even flopped in attaining the inner peace when our thoughts and relationships become hollow and worthless in times of grief and pain. The importance of peace is felt and experienced only at such times and one needs to master his (her) mind, body and soul to develop peace. The gap between the inner peace and global peace must be filled with a path of nonviolence and a better understanding of the divergence between the self-identity and the global requirements.
Gandhi believed that “Prayer is the only means of bringing about orderliness and peace and repose in our daily acts." Our religions too point the same to us. Gandhi was fascinated by “The Bhagavad Gita", an essential scripture of Hinduism and he saw the great, mighty battle between Pandavas and Kauravas as the quest for truth and an end for injustice. According to him, “Salvation of the Gita is perfect peace.” We all shall strive to pray for global peace. Let us expand our horizons to bring peace in disturbed regions worldwide. Let prayer be a fuel that runs the vehicle of peace.

The Reflection
The importance of peace can now be viewed as a perpetual answer to the differences and conflicts among the groups and nations that indulges into violent and terror acts. It is about examining the whole structure of the systems challenging peace. It is about examining the ultimate motive of the rebellion war-hunger groups itself. In many parts of the world, violence is being used as a means to end the settlements and political vengeance. Every time peace is ignored and peaceful talks been disregarded, a plot for violence is seeded. It grows on and on to spread a larger network of terror and violence and finally it empowers the whole nation. More talks and less action stimulate the same effect and become amalgamated with it. Collectively, the force of terror and violence becomes the superior power, and the peaceful missions and strategies become futile. Yet, the true objective of the entire episode of violence and disharmony will never be met by violent means. In a war between terror and peace, both fought for an objective, it is the peace that has to win surpassing all the effects of the terror.
In accordance with the above understanding, the world has few key questions. Is Gandhi’s ideology of inner peace or soul force realized in the prevailing intolerance and divergence in many parts of the world? Can a “Gandhi” endure and fight back with the same energy with injustice and repression what Mahatma Gandhi had in his times?
Looking at the world, we see many individuals who have solely made a change, smaller or larger, in their communities with bountiful of peace in their thoughts and actions. Nobel peace prize winners in the current decade like Mr. Martti Ahtisaari (2008), Mr. Muhammed Yunus (2006), Ms. Waangari Maathai (2004) and Ms. Shirin Ebadi (2003) have effectively changed their parts of the world to maintain amity and bring peace into existence, hitherto had seen only injustice, inequality and communal turbulence. On the other hand, it must also be viewed how the leaders of the U.S.A., the Nobel winners Mr. Jimmy Carter (2002), Mr. Al Gore (2007) and Mr. Barack Obama (2009) had played a crucial role for understanding the global conflicts through political lens, effecting lasting peace across the globe.

Summary
Peace and non-violence are the two pillars of any peace process that upholds the human race’s very livelihood. These two are in-separable. Peace must be the fruit of any non-violent action or protest to settle a dispute. Only such a resolved state of dispute will be full of peace and harmony. As an outcome of the peace process, parties concerned must also understand one main fact that there is not a clear winner or clear loser. When the conflict between two individuals or groups or nations comes to an end, both the winner and the loser will have to be peaceful upon agreeing wholeheartedly to the terms of the winning conditions. And, this is also the fundamental spirit of humanity. Therefore, the final accord the parties willing to agree is nothing but the final outcome itself. They shall not build up their conflict on top of the outcome of the peace process.
To achieve a peaceful treaty is not that simple. Global peace has been hindered by many challenges that include both natural and human-made causes. The rationale behind achieving peace is in the positive understanding of “give and take”, humanity, forgiveness and nonviolence. The right understanding will take the world in the right path. As an exemplary figure in politics, spirituality and nation building, Gandhi must also be understood rightly.

References
1. World Peace, Wiki
2. Epigrams, http://mkgandhi.org

* Founder & Primary Consultant, The Centre for Information Technology and Gandhian Philosophy of Nonviolence and Peace, Mettur Dam – 636 402 Salem District, Tamilnadu, India.
Email Id: bbmurali_2000@yahoo.com and citgpnp@gmail.com