SAN JOSE, CA, October 29, 2013 – In the aftermath of United Nations Day on October 24, when people and nations throughout the world honored the birth of the United Nations, it is relevant to reflect on world peace in light of the genuine foundation for such an organization. The original charter was signed on October 24, 1945 following the most devastating war in human history. In the midst of those dark days of this horrible period, F.D.R. and Churchill had hope that there would be a world after the war, and had the audacity to conceive of a world organization that could promote and perpetuate peace and freedom for humankind. In 1941, these two leaders of the Free World viewed the creation of the U.N. as an absolute necessity if the world were to endure.
This year, the U.N. became 68 years old. As a global institution, that is a long time. The U.N. has outlived the League of Nations by over twice the years of its existence. And it must be noted that the League limped on until 1946, long past any genuine relevancy in the world. It may be that the League outlived its essence for being by the desire of men to hold on to the hope for peace and ignore the reality of the world in which they lived. Yet, can it also be applied to the U.N. as well in 2013? Maybe the Security Council needs to be reformed, or maybe the idea that the United Nations is capable of fulfilling its fundamental purpose for existence needs to be reassessed. Maybe the purpose of the U.N. needs to be reformulated in people’s minds.
Practical expectations of many people in the world are that the U.N. is the international organization responsible for maintaining peace upon the planet. But wise and perceptive people are quite aware that this is a false expectation based upon the evidence of history. The United Nations is incapable of fulfilling its primary purpose of promoting and perpetuating world peace, yet there is essential value in the existence of a global body permitting the many nations of the world relatively equal say in the destiny of humankind. Yet, for world peace to be permitted to exist upon earth, there must be more than just words of good intent passing for reality.
The U.N. is simply the most recent representation of mankind’s quest for peace, and perhaps the one that has achieved the most to maintain relative calm in a turbulent world. But at the core of the U.N. is the Security Council, which is essentially the mind behind the efforts to maintain stability and security within a very violent world. Yet this mind is not united. Instead there is a great division and it has existed since the U.N. Security Council was conceived. Sadly, this fundamental division has been witnessed by humanity under different circumstances and in different times over and over again. It is basically the two completely opposite methods of achieving stability and security, or essentially: peace.
Historical evidence demonstrates that mankind has created pockets of peace upon the planet, yet they are rare, restricted in scope, and temporary social constructions. World peace is elusive and perceived by many as impossible. However, if people study various ways in which the pockets of peace have been established, it is possible to distinguish two major pathways. One path is to establish peace through fear and force, as evidenced under the “Pax Romana” or the Roman Peace. Sadly, that appears to be the most direct route, which establishes a more lasting “peace.” The other path is much more complex and quite fragile because constructing the path requires respect, trust, and compassion for humanity.
Distilling the essential processes involved for producing an outcome of a peaceful society reveals these two fundamental paths: controlling a population via fear and force, or maintaining genuine cooperation between peoples through the exercise of free will, genuine consent, and mutual agreement. The latter becomes increasingly complex and quite difficult in some degree of proportion to the diversity of the given population in which peace can be created. In short, peace can be established when force can impose peace upon a people; and on the other hand, a more positive oriented peace can be obtained through cooperation based on respect, trust, and compassion for all human beings in living upon spaceship earth.
Such basic choices have always been available, but only the former has truly been imposed in substantial ways over extended periods of time. For the most of human history, a positive or more proactive peace has remained an elusive hope. The operant word in the preceding sentence is “hope” because it still exists. Nevertheless, for Western peoples hope comes upon the foundation of a free society – not from underneath the boot of a tyrant. The Founding Fathers completely understood the world in which they lived, and they also could understand these same points. They chose to be free, and placed freedom well above peace in the order of their personal and public priorities.
Freedom was the fundamental focus of the Founding Fathers, even to the point of offering their lives for liberty. Patrick Henry drove the point home quite clearly when he delivered his impassioned “give me Liberty, or give me death” speech in March of 1775. In reality, it is only those of his words that are most remembered. However, there was much more, but it was those concluding sentiments that made the most impact. However, to understand the context is important to absorb the full impact of his statement with regard to the desire for freedom and the stature of peace:
“Mr. President, it is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for Liberty?
…There is no longer ant room for hope. If we wish to be free – if we mean tp preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending – if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained – we must fight! I repeat it sir, we must fight!
… It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace – But there is no peace… What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me Liberty, or give me death.”
Bold words indeed from Patrick Henry, but the sentiment was also in the hearts and on the minds of those who rose up and fought for freedom. They were men who knew the potential cost of such freedom, yet they also knew they could not genuinely live in peace without freedom. Furthermore, those who signed the Declaration of Independence were not making a stand of defiance in support of peace. Those who signed that manifesto for freedom could comprehend that they were also signing their death warrants, and the conclusion of that document reveals that they pledged their lives to one another in their incredible quest, to not only declare the right to be free, but also their willingness to die for the cause.
In essence, tyrants can manifest peace, but with the absence of freedom; but from a true foundation of freedom peace can have an opportunity to grow. Dictators may want the security and stability of peace, as Stalin did in his day, but without the existence of genuine freedom, people are not fully alive; they exist and appear outwardly to function, but they are not fully human — neither is any despot who steals the people’s freedom. Looking at such a situation from a global and historical perspective, worldwide freedom must prevail if a true world peace is to exist.
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