Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
President, International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education,
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University

The Romans had a proverb which said: Si vis pacem para pacem, si vis bellum para bellum – If you want peace prepare for peace, if you want war prepare for war. US President Richard Nixon, followed by few other presidents afterwards, reversed this Roman dictum by saying: Si vis pacem, para bellum – If you want peace prepare for war, which has proven to be fully fallacious throughout the 6,000 years of recorded history. Developing strategies for peace is easier said than done.

Four Aspects of Human Behavior

We learn from history that wars could be traced to the way the human mind functions. Human beings may be compared to a table that stands on four legs, which may be described as vital aspects that affect human behavior. We may enlist them as follows: philosophical, sociological, psychological and physiological. Once we understand the way these four aspects function we may then be in a position to outline practical strategies for peace.

1. Philosophical Aspect: People differ form each other primarily because of their diversity in philosophy. Ascetical writers tell us that God’s greatness is revealed by the fact that he created billions of angels and of people that are all different. Hence, the understanding of one’s philosophy becomes vital in the promotion of peace. Philosophy deals with four basic questions: (a) What is real? (b) What is true? (c) What is good, and (d) What is beautiful?

Plato said that reality is a world of mind because everything is viewed the way the mind sees it. Aristotle indicated that reality is a world of things because everything exists outside of us. St. Thomas Aquinas underlined that reality is a world of reason because we need to rationalize to know things we come across. American educator John Dewy insisted that reality is a world of experience because through experience we may comprehend things better. French educator Jean Paul Sartre stressed that reality is a world of being, of individual interpretation. And Werner von Braun, the rocket scientist, conceived reality as a world of humans since everything depends on what we do. As for the concepts of truth, goodness, and beauty, they all follow logically from the way reality is perceived.

2. Sociological Aspect: This item deals with people everywhere who are heavily influenced in whatever they do by culture, religion, and environment. From the early days of their life, people are assimilated into a culture that has unique customs. Their religion enables them to set up priorities in life with a certain developed style and often with peculiar ways of inter-action. Needless to say, the environment plays a big role in the behavior of the various global communities. This may be beneficial to one’s health or detrimental depending on the cleanliness or pollution of the air they breathe and the water they drink.

Of course, when it comes to the safeguard of good human relations, a sense of adaptability will always help to maintain harmony and prosperity. Just a rapid glance at the various regions of the world will enable us to comprehend the variety of problems we encounter. Such problems may stem from wealth and poverty, from religious fanaticism to political abuse, from the way we communicate and treat others as well as from a number of other sources.

3. Psychological Aspect: This would involve human feelings that may express joy or sadness, satisfaction or disappointment, as well as respect or disrespect for others. If we were to develop the habit of doing to others what we would like others to do to us, many problems would be solved over night. What is of great asset lies in the fact that all people share the same identical human psychology. Theoretically, this should make it easier for people to communicate with each other and to live in peace and harmony.

However, the negative aspects in people’s character and personality may yield to selfishness that tends to neglect, in a number of instances, the vital needs of others. People around the world need to be viewed like they were one human body. If one of our toes where to be smashed the entire body will enter quickly into agony with enormous pain. We need to convince ourselves that the pain that a group of people go through in one global area will affect, directly or indirectly, another group of people living in another global area. As the saying dictates, what goes around comes around.

4. Physiological Aspect: This deals with the structure and development of our body. We all have experienced in life that when we feel in good health we tend to move around and act joyfully. Whereas, when we feel sick we tend to feel rather upset and uncomfortable. This explains why we do have so many gymnasia nowadays as to enable people to keep physically fit. In addition to this, people are basically what they eat. If they eat junk they tend to act unpleasantly in a variety of ways. However, when they develop the habit of eating right they tend to be healthier and enjoy life better. In essence, our health tends to play a big role in what we do in life for the better or the worse.

In view of what has been stated, we may now be in a better position to develop some practical strategies for peace. In the first place, peace does not come from the outside but from the inside of each one of us. We are all born with the seed of peace in our heart. As we grow older, we may either suffocate it or nourish it to the point of full development. When the seed of peace matures it will begin to show in our words and actions moment per moment. When this happens we become the center of attraction and admiration. People tend to demonstrate faith and trust in us, even more than we can possibly expect.

World of Inter-Dependence

Since we live in a world of inter-dependence, anything we do must be geared toward the universal welfare of all people without exception. Otherwise, we become the source of numerous problems that are always bound to backfire and hurt us. This explains why most of our political leaders while talking of peace they promote war, while speaking of democracy they impose dictatorship, and while advocating freedom they deprive their very own people from this sacrosanct element. It also explains why most of our organizational leaders tend to use double talk as to mislead the people intentionally and to get from them what they want to their very own detriment.

In our practical strategies for peace, honesty always remains the best policy. If is not difficult to detect political, religious, and civic leaders as to whether or not their role would be beneficial or detrimental to society. For example, when they claim that in anything they do they are primarily concerned with “national” interests and with “national” defense and security, we may safely conclude that such leaders are dangerous. Since all people form a part of a global community, in anything we do it must be done in the “best interest of this entire one global community” of which all of us constitute an integral part.

In our wholehearted effort to develop practical strategies for peace, we should bring into the open the major obstacles that are preventing peace. The greatest obstacle beyond which there seems to be no greater is certainly the weapons industry. Like all other business enterprises this industry is determined not only to remain in business but to continue to grow, develop and flourish with virtual no limit. To this end, there must be always created factions within a nation to fight each other and also factions between neighboring nations to slaughter each other without mercy.

Very sadly, quite often the politicians become the target of the weapons industry since they have to allot more and more money for the endless manufacture and sales of weapons, which brings tremendous monetary profit.

Of course, this would constitute a political abuse of power, which in itself is an outrageous crime. The rationale goes as follows: “Nations have a right for self-defense. This means they need to be equipped with the best weaponry systems available.” And to turn an insult into an injury, they continue to plan and plot more and more devastating weapons and to instigate intentionally more and more fear. The weapons industry now has employed scientists to design devastating weapons that would orbit our planet on a twenty four hour basis. Our practical strategy for peace in this regard would be to stop the manufacture and deployment of such weapons in space before it would be too late.

Curbing Political Abuses

Our political leaders must be held responsible and accountable for the proliferation of weapons. Some of the politicians may have a personal investment in profits made from the instigation of wars. In this area, the United States seems to have emerged as a very dangerous country as far as the creation and implementation of a genuine peace is concerned. This nation is perhaps the only country in the world where all people have a constitutional right to bear arms of destruction on a twenty four hour basis. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is so adamant on this kind of “right” that it would even object for the US government to require those who carry weapons to be licensed to do so!

In view of this, we may comprehend why in the set up of practical strategies for peace, we cannot take this lightly. We need to have courageous politicians and good lawyers to make it clear that the US constitutional phrase “the right to bear arms” needs to be amended. We should insert instead with the phrase “no right to bear arms except for the military and the police.” Or, we should simply change the word “right” merely into the word “privilege.” We need to keep in mind that the founding fathers of the American nation wrote the US constitution at a time when there were no telephones, no airplanes, no trains, no busses, and no cars. It was a time when the only means of transport was on horseback or in a cart pulled by horses.

The prohibition of weapons in civilian hands should be a sine qua non condition for peace. The criminality of war should be fully brought into full focus. All human conflicts need to be solved through healthy dialogues and diplomatic means. To this end, schools of all nations should prepare a new generation that is capable of promoting peace instead of war. The protection of the environment from air and water pollution is a sacrosanct human right. The abolition of nuclear weapons and landmines should be viewed as a pre-requisite for peace. Finally, a program of international disarmament and arms control should be implemented as a very effective practical strategy for peace.