Is Peace Another Utopia?
by Alfredo Sfeir-Younis
Peace Is The Only Foundation Of World Peace”
Lama Gangchen Tulku Rimpoche
We have lost our hunger for
utopia. This is a major tragedy in public and private policy making
nationally and globally. People would even question any positive
meaning in the use of the term utopia, often used pejoratively
to convey something naïve, or a non attainable state or a definite
form of human fantasy.
I am a utopian.
Contrary to most people, I
unconditionally believe in our capacity to live in a world free of
crime, in societies where everyone is healthy, in countries that
respect and fulfill human rights, in activities that do not harm the
environment, and in a world at peace. For most people, these are just
In the case of peace, things
are even worse, as experts are telling us that the best we can do is
to manage conflict and, if lucky, we will be able to avoid
conflict. A conceptual and policy architecture that limits our
attention towards peace.
Many are not really concerned
about peace in its full expression. Most often than not, human
efforts go in the direction of understanding the source of conflicts
and possible forms of conflict prevention. This is done in the belief
that whatever one can do to avoid conflicts is tantamount of attaining
peace. Certainly, a great fallacy.
Not less strong, is a group
who uses all forms of violence to manage conflict and, they assure us
that the use of violence is essential to attain peace.
Intrinsic in this approach is annihilating the “opponents” (presumably
they are seen as the source of conflict) with the ultimate hope that
one would create a stronger possibility for peace.
Also, there are those who
maintain that all along our history, humans have had some form of
conflict and why not to accept its existence right now?. They feel
there is nothing “new” about conflict and no one can do anything about
it. Conflict, has always been part of our human existence and it will
always be there and, thus, the best we can do is to learn how to
manage conflicts. They question those like me who think that
conflict –the way we are witnessing at this juncture in history—is
Yet others advocate that
conflict will be avoided if you have an equal material and destructive
force on both sides of those who may be prone to disputes. This has
been known as the theory of “the balance of power”; i.e.,
arming everyone ‘equally’ will lower the probability for armed
Many people in the
abovementioned groups feel they are very pragmatic and down to Earth
in addressing peace. Are they really?
All in all, what is most
interesting is that these approaches have translated into the rational
for the architecture of international institutions. These
institutions mirror image one of those approaches and practice their
respective mandates in response to this notion that conflict
prevention will be one day tantamount of peace. This is nothing
further from the truth.
Peace is NOT equivalent to
the absence of conflicts.
The absence of conflict is
simply the absence of conflict.
I am sure you may have other
groups in mind.
However, the group that really interests me is the one postulating
that avoiding conflict is not necessarily equivalent to a road towards
peace. That the road to peace demands a completely different
approach, yet to be implemented in its entirety.
To me, it is the
self-realization of peace --as a unique state of being-- that
will bring world peace.
Inner peace is the only way towards
There is a
UNESCO declaration that, paraphrasing it, says: war and conflict begin
in the mind of people and it is there where it needs to be addressed.
In this context, one should
acknowledge that the paradigm which was responsible for the creation
of conflict will neither be the adequate one to avoid or resolve that
conflict nor create and establish the foundations for the realization
of peace. This key principle in decision-making must be fully
Each era of human history has
its golden rule. It is this golden rule that opens the
way and determines how far and the pace of human progress and the
levels of satisfaction we are able to attain in our lives. The
golden rule of the era of Picis, that is ending soon, has been
“as I know, so I act”. Knowledge and science have been at the
heart of this era and I need not to explain this rule any further.
This golden rule has also represented the foundation of empowerment
and the basis for creating authority in our societies. Thus, for
example, we see that one with a Bachelor’s degree “worth” less than
someone with a Ph. D., under the assumption that the latter knows more
than the former. Our society “authorizes” the latter more than the
But, this golden rule
will not apply with the same effectiveness any longer. The new
golden rule for the era of Aquarius is: “As I self-realize, so
I act”. A rule that “authorizes” as a function of one’s level of
self-realization and nothing else. In a social sense, this means to
attain also high levels of collective self-realization.
This golden rule
demands we not only talk about peace or other human values (e.g.,
love, compassion, fraternity) but that we self-realize peace and those
human values. These human values are not just words, but they are
profoundly subtle and essential states of our Being. These states
must not only be talked about, but they should be fully
self-realized. Thus, those who are to negotiate for peace should do
so only if they have self-realized the state of peace. If they are
peace in themselves. Otherwise, they have no clue what they are
negotiating for. Juts negotiating a cease fire is not tantamount of
This process of self
realization has certain characteristics worth noting.
Fourth, it is
simple. Many people think that the process of human
self-realization must be complex and cumbersome, and full of twists
and turns. It is not my personal experience. The great teachers
have given so simple answers to our complex questions. In many
instances, the answers are so simple that the great majority do not
want to even follow the advice.
Fifth, the process
of self-realization of peace is fully immerse and an integral
dimension of The Laws of Nature. Separateness does not exist in
self-realization. Thus, if we ignore or detach from natural law we
constraint significantly our possibilities to attain peace and other
humanistic values and states of being.
Sixth, the process
of spiritual self-realization is as much collective as it is
individual. The “me” and the “we” become one. Thus, it is
impossible to conceived self-realization as something for me alone.
It must be integrally linked and be part of the totality we live
today. In some important sense, spiritual unfoldment is about the
Seventh, every stage
of this spiritual self-realization has specific material expressions
in our everyday life. The same applies the other way around: every
act we perform in the material world will express itself in the
spiritual. This two way traffic is often misunderstood and,
therefore, for example, we see no connection between the destruction
of the natural environment and our path towards enlightenment and
self-realization, both individually nor collectively. We are mute
of these connections and experience a wrong form of causality in
Thus, a peaceful human
transformation demands the
will be no peace in the world if we are not peace ourselves. We
have looked towards our outer existence to find peace. But, in
fact, you will never find peace in the supermarkets!! It is time
we look towards our inner existence, our inner self, our inner powers
and experience for the true meaning of life in this beautiful
Planet. We are part of a totality but we are also that totality. While
separable, we are inseparable and completely interdependent.
Peace everywhere is not a
utopia. Peace is a normal state of our being. A state we have lost
through the thick filters of power, ego and duality. The process of
inner peace will dilute and get rid of these filters.
Utopia is only in the heart of
those who want an all embracing, inclusive and universal human
destiny. I invite you to join me as an utopian for the betterment of
Special Representative of the World Bank to the United Nations