Jong Woon, aged 16

“You have not done enough, you have never done enough, as long as there is still something to which you can contribute.”  – Dag Hammarskjöld 

World Peace Starts from Individual Appreciation

– If one were to look up the term “World Peace” in a dictionary, chances are, it would be defined as something along the lines of tranquility and non-violence. However, world peace is much more than a world free of violence and war. Mother Teresa once said, “Peace begins with a smile.” If each person around the world could smile and demonstrate kindness for another, a ripple effect would be caused, and before you know it, the world would have achieved something far beyond the dictionary definition of world peace.

We must accept that among all the problems that mankind faces today, some are unchangeable natural axioms. However, we must also be aware that many others are indeed of our own creation due to our egotistic nature and various misunderstandings. Such problems can be fixed if we are willing to correct it. Because of the different ideologies, religions and political systems, which were originally meant to bring about happiness and peace to humans, people have fought and continue to fight each other for something so trivial. We must not forget that the welfare of humanity should always remain supreme above ideology and materialism.

An individual or a nation’s happiness includes factors such as inner peace, absence of violence and war and economic development. When these goals have been achieved, one would soon realize that the ultimate goal of world peace has been reached. However, to take the first step in achieving world peace, it is almost compulsory for each and every individual to develop a sense of universal responsibility and compassion for all regardless of race, sex, beliefs or nationality.

Throughout the human history, mankind has attempted to use a wide variety of methods to satisfy their desires, most of which have all resulted in excessive violence and cruelty. People have recklessly acted in ways that undermine their status as intelligent human beings who are capable of making rational decisions, and have inflicted pain and suffering upon other living beings including other humans. Such egocentric and shortsighted actions will ultimately bounce back on oneself. If we adopt such an egocentric approach to life and constantly place the peace and happiness of others at jeopardy for our own interests, we may gain temporary satisfaction, but in the long run, it is highly doubtable that we will ever achieve personal happiness let alone reaching world peace.

One of the major changes that have occurred in this world over the past few centuries is that the world has rapidly become, and continues to become smaller day by day. Countries have become more interdependent on each other with the advances in modern technology and international trade. We can now say that we have reached a point in history where one nation cannot live without another. Today we have become so closely interconnected with each other that forming a sense of unity as one big family is our only option in tackling and overcoming the global problems we face.

However, there is yet another problem to be addressed from this and this is the diminishing sympathy and compassion between different nations themselves. Although nations are becoming more interdependent on each other, as long as people remain indifferent to others’ opinions and feelings, it would be difficult to generate a sympathetic cooperation among all.

Many may suggest international humanitarian projects as a solution to solve world problems and achieve world peace. This may be effective to a certain extent, but one must realize that over a certain degree, this solution may be proven to be quite impractical in the sense that a single organization sets the “level” of happiness that people deserve regardless of their individual feelings and hopes. In this case, the more judicious solution would be to become more considerate of those around us when we pursue our own contentment and peace.

With people who are only motivated by greed and envy, it is almost impossible for humans to live in harmony and peace. As many claim, another example of the scarcely available solutions is the spiritual approach to such problems. This intervention of spiritual or religious factors could come into play to mitigate if not eradicate these egotistic political problems, but in the end, we will once again begin to doubt the fundamental goal of even this solution.

As Óscar Romero stated, “Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.” We must take on the proper mindset that the happiness or peace of an individual or group is not sought at the expense of others.

If humans continue to address and approach its problems with only the intentions for immediate and temporary benefits, the following generations will be given no choice but to carry the entire burden that the previous generation deliberately refused to take or even lessen. The current problems we face now are there because people have only focused on achieving a short-term, egocentric outcomes, and not considered the welfare of the human race itself. If we are unable to handle such difficulties in our present generation, the generations to come may as well have an equally, if not more, difficult time trying to cope with them.

As the former United Nations secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld told the world, “you have not done enough, you have never done enough, as long as there is still something to which you can contribute.” Each individual must take a step forward to live a more compassionate and less self-centered life. It is something that everyone is capable of and if this can be carried out and we all contribute, we might as well find ourselves in the better world we dream of today. We cannot do everything, but we can do something, for someone, somewhere, and somehow.


About UN News Geneva

Sharing entires to the United Nations Peace Essay competitions run by the Information Service in Geneva in 2011
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