Turn on the news at any time of day and I guarantee, it wouldn’t be long till you come across some news on a war taking place in some part of the world, whether it be between rival nations or even civil war. To give you an example, in 2005, there were seven major conflicts taking place around the world, with two dozen smaller ones taking place (I am giving these statistics according to UN protocol, which defines major conflicts as one resulting in more than 1000 battlefield deaths a year). To try and think that how many people lost their lives in that year alone, it is difficult to comprehend Dying in wars like in Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. Now I am not saying whether these wars are justified or not (like USA in Afghanistan) but just the fact that it is a shame that these people are dying to begin with.
Yet this isn’t the only form of violence. On a smaller scale, there are those who are been bullied and attacked by street gangs, bullied by peers (not always physically) in workplaces, etc. Unfortunately there is no shortage of negativity and misery inflicted on others by those individuals or groups. Whether it be burglars, muggers, bullies or those who simply like to apply manipulative tactics, there are people who cause suffering to others (whether consciously or unconsciously).
So what are the chances of world peace being accomplished within our lifetimes? Well unfortunately I don’t think the chances are very likely. To be completely honest, I believe that the chances of that happening within our lifetimes are pretty grim. The main reason why I believe this is due to the fact that suffering is being caused and experienced in all different levels within the world and society.
Unfortunately it gets worse because I believe that this aspect of humanity which causes some to make others suffer (whether intentionally or unintentionally) is not due to any particular cultural upbringing. The reason why this is so is due to the fact that wars and suffering did not originate within one culture and branch out globally. Historically speaking, this negative aspect of humanity which spurs on wars, etc. started in several different ancient cultures, pretty much shortly after they were formed; and the chances are that violence and suffering took place on a small scale even before this period. Maybe right back to the very dawn of mankind!
This desire to cause suffering I believe is very much a deeply entrenched part of the human mind, for whilst it can be said that animals do attack each other and hence suffer due to this, the intention is usually survival and dominance within a pack, as well as been short-lived. Once the animal has killed its prey or secured dominance within the pack, the suffering due to conflict ceases.
Unfortunately with us humans, this is not the case. We develop beliefs about this and that group of people, as well as the type of people we belong to and with our thinking minds, will often carry out a campaign of hate on those people. Whilst you may be thinking that I am portraying a very negative portrait of humanity, history does seem to fit with this description, where one group of individuals takes it upon themselves to attack another group, even to the point of genocide.
Now whilst in the civilised world, we wouldn’t necessary go and physically attack someone we believed as a threat to us, we may use other ‘more civilised’ ways to attack them, such as verbal bullying or manipulation (for more on these methods, please read my other article, ‘Beware of Covert-aggressives).’ Yet the principle is still the same, implying that this negative aspect of the human mind is still at work.
So, coming back to the question of whether we will ever see the day when world peace is declared, I wouldn’t blame you if you believed that we humans are destined to keep attacking one another till we obliterate ourselves (this has nearly happened several times in recent history, whenever the threat of nuclear war has loomed). Yet there is some good news, for whilst this trait is embedded within the psyche of our minds, we are not our minds for we have the ability to transcend our minds and as such, transcend this need to categorize others and turn against those we dislike. According to some Buddhist traditions, this is seen as awakening to ourselves. One of the best keys I believe to achieving this is by the practise of meditation and mindfulness (for definition and understanding of mindfulness, please refer to my other article, “What Exactly Is Mindfulness).”
According to all those wise masters, people, etc. who throughout the ages, have transcended their limited human mind, (i.e. Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad) it is only when we do transcend our mind that we begin to see the amount of suffering that we cause both ourselves and those around us. Now whilst on a positive note, I believe that on a daily basis, more and more people are beginning to transcend their minds and awaken to the suffering that they are causing, the number as yet is still comparatively small compared to the number still stuck in their limited minds.
So while in the future I do believe the day will come when all conflicts in the world (whether religious, over land, etc.) will cease and most people will be peaceful to each other, that day will be beyond my life (and most probably my children’s life as well). Yet we shouldn’t have to wait four to five generations before we begin to see the small impact that those (growing in number) who have transcended their minds will make!