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We Are All Responsible for Peace

Howard Mukanda

The World is different now. With the introduction of democracies and the United Nations, our thoughts about wars and diploma­cy have progressed. Contrary to centuries before, the idea that em­pire-building is an honorable sport has subsided. Intolerance of ethnic and racial difference has dimin­ished considerably as well. Most importantly, people are beginning to understand that nations don't cause wars; it is we as individuals who suppress peace and democracy and then cause war. I have learnt to fully understand that as individu­als, we are liable to preserve world peace and democracy. Growing up, I did not fully un­derstand that I have the power to change things. I had a general as­sumption that issues pertaining to peace and democracy were the pol­itician's duty to take care of. For most of my life, I was in a country that was infested with political vi­olence and suppression of human rights by corrupt government offi­cials. Zimbabwe made it in headlines around the world as a "failed state" and as having the worst hyperinflation in his­tory, even more than hyperinflation during Germany's 1923 catastrophe.


My experience of being exposed to violence as a way of resolving conflict also profoundly changed my personal view of the world. It all started within my family frame­work; pertaining to old African patriarchal culture and tradition, a man can physically assault his wife and there is nothing wrong with that. When I was five years old, my parents used to fight all the time. Seeing my dad physically hit my mother was a gruesome moment for me. I always felt that something was seriously wrong, but under the specs of my society, there was noth­ing wrong at all. My parents finally divorced, but the gruesome images of my Mom crying were still en­graved in my mind. Furthermore, as a teenager I was further exposed to yet another well-pronounced exam­ple of violence as a way to resolve conflict. By this time, the very people that I thought I could trust with preserving peace and order were the ones acting against it. The intense political violence that spread through Zimbabwe from 1999 until the present reaffirmed to me that violence is the way to resolve conflict, even though deep inside I know that there are better ways to resolve conflict. As if this was not enough, I read the news, and on headlines I could see war and terror: images of dead people in Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and other parts of the world. As a child with a malleable brain, I was partially convinced that violence is an acceptable way to resolve con­flict, but this confused me as I bat­tled with the gruesome images of the suffering people that I had seen and the feeling that some of them did not even deserve to die or suffer the pain they did - especially polit­ical victims.


This caused me to become very curious about better ways to resolve conflict, and I had a need to fully un­derstand what peace and democracy meant. As a result of my childhood experience, I decided to dedicate my college career to a Global Stud­ies major, and I hope that I will get to fulfill my desire to seek further understanding about global peace, how nations are run democratically, and how various societies deal with conflict and manage to progress.


Last summer I was honored to be a Nobel Peace Prize Scholar and I spent the time in Norway learning more about peacemaking and di­alogue as a nonviolent way of re­solving conflict. During this time I learned a lot.


After spending a lot of time an­alyzing the current conflicts in the world (Iran, Israel, Congo, etc) as a Peace Scholar, I realized that peace resounds within individuals. We are all responsible for the current state of our societies no a d the world catastrophes that we are facing. Reflecting on my childhood again, it is not surprising to me that some of my classmates who are now married abuse their newlywed wives. Some of them are even the manpower be­hind the political violence and mur­ders that are going on in Zimbabwe now. Society shapes how children will behave when they become adults. If I had not attained the lev­el of education I have, who knows, I may have been one of those men abusing their wives in rural Africa today. Whatever values that we ex­pose to our children, the odds are high that they assimilate them and recreate them because that's all they know. It is therefore not surprising that some of my high school friends are now part of the abusive gangs organized by the government to terrorize opposition parties. Would one blame them? The notion of identifying add resolving conflicts peacefully was never instilled in them. It was the society they grew up in that showed them violence was the answer.


Just like how Crandall R. Kline states in Peace within Our Grasp, there are fundamental moral rules that society can implement to attain a peaceful global community. Al­though we may take it for granted, we need to emphasize nonviolence - an understanding that no one has the right to kill or harm anyone else. This can be further strength­ened by educating society that lives and land are sacred. No nation has the right to invade another nation, kill the people, or take their land. Citizens must withdraw support for any leader that violates human rights. Groups of people have no more right to kill than individuals have. Governments have no right to kill anyone. Not only do we need the right rules, but we need enough people who understand them and who are concerned enough that they will speak up and demand that the governments and policy makers implement them.

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