By Nihal Khan
Lahore Grammar School
Image source: www. ciudadtijuana.info
Everyone has their own perspective of ‘peace’. Some think of it as Utopian times where people have the Freedom of Speech, Power, Choice, and basically everything our current governments have failed to provide us (I don’t blame them, we can’t be gratified). Some visualize it as solitude and stagnancy of body and mind, where nothing threatens the continuity of their existence or their supposed ‘positivity’. Some think of it as the proper functioning of events in the desired directions. Others, whom we call cynics and pessimists, don’t believe that Peace exists and think of it as a fabricated philosophy aimed at making people feel, quite instinctively, that times are getting worse. I’d label such people, as nothing short of realists. It’s not that I don’t believe in Peace at all. It’s simply the fact that Peace, the sort we wished we had, requires perfection, which can’t be attained. Forget all those quotes on how ‘Practice makes Perfect.’ Life has too many fluctuations. Everyone at some point in their life will feel that all their efforts for that ‘Peace’ were useless. And then they blame Karma for their predicaments. It’s not Karma (Not only that). It’s nature. Nothing is, was, or ever will be perfect, and the most we can do is just go along with things. We pull the cart of civilization, until our hands grow numb, and we die, believing that we were on the verge of attaining ‘Peace’, or that we’d find it in death. How’s about we just enjoy the moments we have?
By now, you’d think that I’ll go on, reflecting on how miserable my life has turned out to be, and end with an appropriate joke to obtain some sort of boring autobiography on how I was never able to attain Peace. However, that’s not what I intend to do. What I want, is for you to realize, how we, as human beings, have distanced and made even more impossible, the idea of Peace, which is by itself a modern myth. How in our lives, we puncture our friends, family, and even strangers, physically and emotionally, and remain oblivious to it. How we cause our own problems to elevate to such a degree that happiness slips out of our fingers. How Death plays its gloomy roles. What I want, is some sort of wake up call to those people who believe in Peace, and will not rest until they attain it. To make them realize that Peace is not our concern, happiness is! And they’re not one and the same.
I won’t stretch the topic of war and violence. We hear enough about it on the news, on the internet, from our family, from our friends, and even those socially awkward strangers who can’t find suitable subjects of conversation. And I’ve read sufficiently, to know that the war effort will never end (Again, Peace can’t be attained). A more suitable topic would be our indifference to Death. People say “Death is liberating”. Twilight said, “Death is peaceful, easy.” Now, if we just think a little more consciously on the subject, we’ll find the truth. Death’s like those annoying friends who aren’t really friends. Like the ones who deal you really harsh blows, but in a matter so gentle, you get confused. No wonder our ancestors associated it with darkness and the Grim Reaper. Every day, millions of people die. And you’ll think, “Alright, people die. So what, everyone reaches a certain point where they cease to exist. How does that make Peace a ‘Modern Myth’?” Well, get this, death causes a lot of pain to the relatives and loved ones of the deceased. Their whole lives take a turn for the worse. No longer can they function properly. Yes, they do seem to get over it, but how can you be so sure? They might as well be wearing a facade around you, but in moments of seclusion, they might cry their hearts out. And I’m not saying it’s not right to do so. I’m just saying, this is one of those instances, where Peace is shattered to bits, like a movie scene in slow motion. The door of Peace is violently shut, but that of happiness isn’t. Yet, they don’t see it.
Now, you’ll sometimes hear people say, “I want some Peace and Quiet here.” Or that might only be your teacher. But the truth remains. Sometimes, we just wish we would be alone with not a single voice around. And trust me on this when I say it, but being alone is the last thing a person would need. Company keeps you busy, and gets your mind off harsh realities. But when one is alone, his mind begins to process all kinds of information, and brings out pictures of all types of situations. And they might be good or bad. But there’s no one else to show them to. There’s no one else to do anything with. No one to listen to your philosophical jargons (I’ve found that when I’m alone, I tend to be quite the thinker). No one to discuss your ‘insecurities’ with. And then, the inevitable happens. You’re like, ‘Forget Peace, I want to go back’. And it’s not that turning back is no longer an option. It’s that, this cycle just keeps repeating itself. And Peace, whether it be the old times, or the ‘Peace and Quite’, just steps aside, saying “You sort this out first”. And it never gets sorted out.
Now let’s get over to another topic, one which is intentionally avoided in our times. I think I will be speaking on behalf of everyone over here, when I say that everyone might find that their families are in a feud with their relatives or similar parties. And in Pakistan, I find this to be quite common (Not generalizing it or anything). And how is this related to Peace? Well, I earnestly believe that this type of hostility might just never end. Ever. Sure, we’ll get along, meet up, and talk over matters. Hell, the fights may even end. But this hostility, this lack of trust never ends. And I’m not trying to imply that I’ve lost all hope in humanity or something. Humanity is still capable of good things, individually, that is. But collectively, we can’t reach a really high goal, because friction is too inevitable. Shia or Sunni. Pathan or Punjabi. Muslim or Christian. Just too much friction. And this, peppered with hate, is an invitation to disaster.
Now, imagine you’re having a real good time. You think you’re at Peace. I’d say you’re happy, not at Peace. Because that Peace is only temporary. And it’s only a matter of time before someone ends it. But anyways, imagine you’re having a great time, enjoying yourself. And someone comes along, and says or does something to you. For example, someone says, “What are you doing? Shouldn’t you be doing this or that?” And that blows it out of proportion. Now that person might be a friend, a family member, a complete stranger even. But it’s most probably a frenemy, because they just can’t handle you having fun. And sometimes, this might even be good for you, like your parents telling you quit slacking and get to study. But, that’s the whole gravity of it. That whole Peace you think you had. It’s gone. And you’ll regret it, or keep thinking it’ll come again soon. It won’t.
And these are only a few of such situations. I’ve left out all the racism, sectarianism, prejudice, oppression, violence, war, divide, and all those shameless and barbaric things that are going on today. I’m just saying, how can we expect Peace when they’re around too?
Now, as with any article, you’d expect me to have some sort of settlement theory for this that I will propose any time now. Some ingenious method to make you all satisfied. After all, I might just have ruined all of your fantasies. Truth is, I don’t. But if you want me to make any type of effort, I’ll say, half-heartedly, that we shouldn’t live for tomorrow’s Peace. We should live for Today’s joy. Like, Robert. M. Pirsig said:
“To live for some future goal is shallow. It is like the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”
And I respect all those people making attempts at World Peace. I’d love them to continue making contributions to our society, to helping the poor, to giving the down-trodden more opportunities, to promoting general prosperity, and stuff like that. But some of their juvenile fantasies, their beliefs that the whole world will someday turn into this beautiful, flawless paradise with which everyone will be satisfied, and no one will live in vain and so on. I have problems with that, because that won’t happen. Not to sound like a pessimist but it’s true. And due to such beliefs, they might even forget to enjoy those little moments of joy that beg for their attention.