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War and Peace

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					Ivan Wu Dictionary.com defines war as “a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation; warfare, as by land, sea, or air,” which I believe is war at its simplest terms. War is also characterized as a struggle between two ideals or ways of life manifested through violence. It is the consequence of two or more parties that are unable to coexist harmoniously and are unable to resolve political or social conflicts. It is also the consequence of one or more party’s inability or unwillingness to supplicate or change their way of living. Peace on the other hand is the antithesis of war. Peace is the absence of conflict. It is a state where two or more parties are able to coexist harmoniously. Although peace can be described as “the normal, nonwarring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world” (dictionary.com) I believe it also requires there to be a mutual willingness to resolve political and social matters diplomatically. Peace is often seen as the ideal state humankind should live in with each other and nature, but this is impossible. So long as there are different views of life, there will always be times of war. Fleeting moments of peace are attainable, but inevitably war must counterbalance the scale. Peace on a micro level, however, can be seen in neighborhoods and relationships. But I feel that war and conflict are innate in human nature for a couple of reasons. Firstly, in its primitive stages of evolution, humankind dwelled in a Hobsonian state of nature. In this state of nature there was no government or rule that helped resolve territorial conflicts. There was no concept of “mine” or “thine,” and property was only yours as long as you could defend it before it being taken by someone else. Hobbes described this state as being lonely, animalistic, short lived, and nasty. If we evolved from creatures of violence, then there still must be some innate aspect of human nature that gravitates towards conflict. One may argue that humans have evolved to become supreme beings with government and technology, but those who govern the human race will always be in a state of nature because there is no higher power governing them. The argument is a vicious circle that can only be broken by an idealistic utopia. If the world had a government that presided over Earth, given that these officials are uncorrupt, then maybe we can live in a warless society. Secondly, as mentioned before conflict stems from a person’s inability to cope with differing views. It is human nature to categorize and simplify the world. We view the world through schemas, which helps us process information more efficiently. Problems arise because we start to view people as belonging to different races, and we place stereotypes upon those races to help us better identity them. So long as we view people differently, we will always have conflict that may cause war. I believe that we as Americans are slowly becoming more sensitive towards differing life views, but we still have a long way to go. This past election is a milestone America has achieved, electing the first African American president. However, upon examining the results of California’s proposition 8, we must still work to become more accepting. Regarding nations outside the U.S., we still see a lot of non-acceptance of differing views. One example is the conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Although the differences between the two are so insignificant, they are at war with each other. Since it is human nature to categorize the world, conflicts may arise because of it, ultimately leading to war. In essence, I believe that war is the consequence of intolerance of differing world views, and the absence of such results in peace, which can be achieved at a micro level. However, constant peace at a macro level is impossible due to human nature. Humans tend to gravitate towards conflict because our ancestors lived in a state of nature for a long time, and because we categorize the world to help us make sense of it. Ideally, it is possible to heighten cultural and

social sensitivity to the point where we may attain constant peace, but given the state of our modern world, we have a long way to go as a human race.


				
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posted:1/19/2009
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Description: This is an essay on the definition of war and peace and if attaining peace is possible.