The opposite of peace is violence. Violence doesn’t just occur at the national level or somewhere else in the world. Everyone consumes and travels, but not everyone considers the impact of our individual actions. Where can you incorporate non-violence into your life today? Are your methods of travel and eating low-impact? Look at ways you can influence your life now before pointing a finger at how others are acting violently.
Protecting the environment and considering mutuality (your actions affect me and mine affect you) can promote peace, rather than violence. Philosopher Johan Galtung’s model of violence applies to environmental degradation and helps us understand how privilege and domination arise. Galtung explains: “Act[s] of direct violence and the fact of structural violence are legitimized and thus rendered acceptable in society” (Galtung, 292). Direct violence is ignoring how individual actions, like wasting energy or water can lead to structural violence: blowing tops off mountains to extract coal or damming rivers to meet demands for electricity. Structural violence occurs with industries razing forests, dumping toxins into waterways and destroying habitat– forms of social injustice. A short-term mindset is culturally embedded—use and abuse now—worry about health effects or remediation later, so that violence seems inevitable and is reproduced uncritically. Economics takes precedence over environment where short-term profitability carries more weight than long-term stewardship of natural resources and health. The cultural construct of subduing and consuming without contributing or restoring becomes entrenched and normalized without concern for how environmental degradation contributes to the next big storm.
Change must take place at individual, structural and governmental levels. Education can trigger awareness, which is the first step of behavior change. if we aim for peace, we must connect how we see and how we live. Let peace begin with me.
Pope Francis’s World Day of Peace 2017 Message for your contemplation. It includes the
speech and commentaries and articles by Marie Dennis and Joshua McElwee.
The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned. Dag Hammarskjold