Why is Peace Good?

Everybody says that they are for peace. It is a rare person who will argue that war and violence are preferable. The good news is that for the vast majority of people these are not just idle words. In our day to day life, most of us abhor violence. If we sense that somebody may attack us we do all that we can to avoid it. The braver among us will even step in and break up a scuffle. With so many billions of people on earth it is actually surprising that there is so little fighting.

Even in countries where violence is much more common, it usually not perpetrated by regular working stiffs. Governments, mafias, warlords, gangs, and other criminal organizations come together and plan how to best terrify populations into complacently doing their bidding. In any country or body politic, the vast majority of the citizenry just wants to live a peaceful, productive life. They want to love their husbands and wives, watch their children grow older, and leave something for future generations. Shooting and killing is forced upon us by a tiny minority.

So why is peace preferred so overwhelmingly to violence? If your were to ask ten people you’d probably get ten different answers. In my eyes, there are two different ways to approach the issue.

On the one hand, peace is clearly a better option if mankind wants to improve its lot in a material sense. It provides an environment in which people can commit themselves completely to their work. Investments can be made and long term projects undertaken without worry that everything will be undone by airplanes flying overhead and dropping bombs.

Businessmen are not likely to invest in ghettos if gangs are going to paint graffiti on their office buildings and intimidate their workers. It wouldn’t be worth spending all the time and effort to build up a business if it can all be ruined by violent individuals. Also, there is much more capital to invest where peace prevails. Instead of having to use scarce resources to build war planes and house soldiers, capital can be used to build houses, produce higher quality food, and undertake the work of providing the necessities of life for more and more people.

It may sometimes be necessary to spend some of a society’s resources on defense. However, every dollar spent on a tank that gets blown up can’t be spent on feeding the hungry. A peaceful world would permit us to go straight to improving our conditions without having to provide for equipment that is likely to destroyed.

The other reason that humans like peace is that it is in our nature. Whether you believe in a God or evolution or both, it is undeniable that somehow or another  most people want to be left alone to live their life without the threat of being attacked violently. Most people will go to extremes to avoid being the source of violence as well. Its just the way humans are.

This argument is a natural law argument. All human statutes, starting with religious codes, and eventually civil codes and constitutions make killing indiscriminately a crime. Natural law philosophy theorizes that laws are nothing more that human traditions and customs, codified and enforced. In other words, law just enforces what people are already doing by their very nature anyways. Most people don’t steal and look down on theft without or without a law. The same can be said for murder. Laws just reflect this reality.

None of what has been written to this point is to say that we live in a peaceful utopia and that we should do away with all police and military. The point is that the great majority of human beings are peaceful. All the great wars and murderous outrages of human history have been carried out by tiny minorities forcing themselves on the masses.

If human society is naturally peaceful and peace is of a great benefit to society, we can label peaceful behavior as social. Violence, then, must in all cases be considered anti social. Even when necessary, violence is inherently anti-social because it interferes with material improvement and flies in the face of human nature.

All of this sounds great in theory, right? Nobody is going to argue against a never ending march of peace and prosperity. However, there still remain a great number of anti-social individuals who undertake violence in order to secure short term benefits, at the cost of long term improvement for us all. What can we do to promote peace and stifle aggression?

First, we must accept in our heart that peace is good for humanity. It must be the unshakable foundation upon which our life philosophy is constructed.

Second, we must pledge to be benefactors of our fellow man. Each and everyone of us participate peacefully in the grand drama that is human life. This means that we must never, under any circumstances, aggress violently against others. Acting violently includeds killing, starting fights, stealing, supporting wars of aggression, or lending support, moral or material, to others who carry out any of these actions.

Third, we must recognize aggressors for what the are: anti-social people. Those who act violently, or support violence, should be treated as the malefactors that they are. If they are not able to cooperate peacefully in human society, they should be denied the benefits of it. In practice, this can be carried out by throwing criminals in jail. Those who support violence without actually carrying it out should be shunned or at the very least treated with contempt.

Fourth, each of us has the responsibility to explain to our children and loved ones the benefits of peace. People act based on their beliefs. The surest way to maintain peace, and its byproducts material improvement and human welfare, is to indoctrinate ourselves and those whom we influence with the message of peace towards our fellow man.

If  you do these things, you are truly your brother’s keeper. I thank you for taking a stand for peace, civility, and human improvement.

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One Response to Why is Peace Good?

  1. Pingback: Killing Innocent People Is Always Wrong « POLITICAL ECONOMY FOR REGULAR JOES

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