Springingtiger's Blog

Peace that Passes Understanding

Photo from Don Macbride

There is a common misconception that peace is merely an absence of war. I notice this is something those who support the retention of nuclear weapons keep trotting out in support of Trident renewal, “Nuclear Weapons have kept the peace for over half a century”. It is true that no one has launched a nuclear attack upon us since the second world war, however there is no evidence that this is because we have nuclear weapons. Another one popular right now is that because of the European Union European Countries have been at peace with each other for over half a century. There is rather more reason to accept this as true because of the active cooperation of member states. What we must not forget is that although European nations have not been fighting each other and we have not had a nuclear war we have been engaged in armed conflicts more or less non-stop since the end of World War Two and the situation is not improving.

I have heard it said that ‘Peace is the absence of fear’. Down in the South of England the people who love having nuclear weapons may not fear a nuclear attack. It is somewhat different in Scotland where the Faslane Submarine Base is the UK’s primary nuclear target. Even if there is never a nuclear attack Scotland has to put up with a fear imposed by the English who happily run military convoys carrying nuclear materials through Scottish towns by road and rail. The most likely source of attack on UK soil is apparently from terrorists and what more inviting target than nuclear warheads being transported by lorry? Even were there never to be a terrorist attack, trains can be derailed, lorries can skid and crash. There can be no peace as long as England insists on keeping its weapons of mass destruction in Scotland. And as long as it seems that they are prepared to risk Scottish lives in order to protect their own, there will be little of peace in the Scots’ attitude towards them.

But what sort of peace can a people know when thousands are forced to sleep rough on the streets and many more compelled to turn to food banks to stave off starvation because the English government is imposing austerity upon them. There is no freedom from fear for the disabled whose ability to retain a job is threatened by the English Government’s removal of their Employment Support Allowance. What peace is there when in the Commons debate on ESA the English government made scarcely veiled threats against the Scottish Government should they try to prevent implementation of the cuts? I can’t remember the exact quote but it went along the lines of ‘It would turn them from Law Makers into law breakers’, Westminster refused to say what sanctions they would take preferring to leave the threat open ended. When an extreme government is deliberately hurting its own people it is a country that cannot know peace. When a subject nation is unable to care for its own people and has austerity forced upon it by a more powerful neighbour the country cannot know peace. The ordinary citizens of the various countries of the UK are being forced to live with an unnecessary level of uncertainty by the Westminster government and the vested interests that it represents. Would destroying the protected peace of those vested interests bring about peace for the rest? Justice and fairness perhaps, but peace? Peace is another matter.

Human life is fraught with uncertainty and no amount of wealth or legislation can prevent that. It is pitiful to see rich people desperately trying to hide behind walls or worse, like Howard Hughes, living in fear of natural processes of illness and disease. It is sad to see chubby children getting fatter because their parents fear to let them out into a world perceived to be too dangerous. No matter how much people anaesthetise themselves with religion, drink, sex, drugs, television or anything else, there is no peace. There is no peace anywhere. There is no peace anywhere unless you create it for yourself. The only people who know peace are those who generate it within themselves. They may be poor or rich, living in Syria or Sheffield, educated or illiterate, married or single, it does not matter, peace is not a function of what you have but of whom you are. Remove every cause for fear you can imagine, you will find new ones. Remove poverty, old age, disease, you will still find cause for anxiety. Fear is nothing more than perception; the conduct it causes: wars, amassing weapons or money, passing restrictive laws, following priests and politicians are the actions of immature and deluded fools who, whether they like it or not, will die. But the person who creates his own peace passes untouched through wars and recession, plagues and famine, celebration and bereavement. The man who generates peace from within may find no pleasure in some things, no pain in others, but joy in everything.


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