By Nicolas Atayan Nave
Peace is ever-evolving measure of overall human conflict, and has eluded us since the dawn of time. Since the beginning of human history, we have stolen, killed, conquered, argued, and warred. Peace has always been regarded as an obviously preferable but unrealistic state of existence and relegated to the world of cliches, along with “true love” and “karma.” But there is good news, and you may not have known about it until now —statistics show 2015 is the most peaceful time on Earth in recorded history. This isn’t some fluke either — we are only getting more peaceful with time, this is a trend that has been persisting for a while now. It may be surprising to some, given that terrorist attacks and school shootings seem to happen on a weekly basis. However, on the whole, there has never been a safer time to be alive.
The question, “How can we achieve world peace” is a question that has no immediate practical answer. The truth is that we will never live in a completely peaceful utopia and there will always be someone stealing, murdering, or committing some sort of crime. What we should be aspiring towards as a species is to be as peaceful as practically possible, and this is something that can only be achieved through increased modernization of the world. The overall trend of increased peacefulness correlates with the concurrent trend of increased technological and cultural modernization. One example of how cultural modernization influenced world peace is the Civil Rights Movement — people in the United States became educated and collectively realized the barbarity of racial discrimination, resulting in a more peaceful world today.
It can be seen that the least peaceful places on Earth at the moment are also some of the least developed, and vice versa. To achieve a higher sense of world peace, countries which lag behind the most developed ones must modernize on all fronts. But how can this be done? Simply by virtue of patience. It may seem disingenuous, but it’s entirely serious — the world will only continue to become more modern, resources will only continue to become more available, and technology will only continue to become more advanced as time goes on. No countries are going backwards in terms of technological or cultural development. As these things happen, world peace will also come hand in hand.
We shouldn’t be worrying too much about peace; we are living in some of the most peaceful times ever and the statistics are not in favor of that changing any time soon. No, we don’t live in a fairy tale perfect world, but that’s okay because we are doing our best to approximate it — and we are getting infinitesimally closer as we speak.
The question “How do we achieve world peace?” is inherently pessimistic and misguided. It implies that world peace is some fixed state that we can one day arrive at, and it implies that world peace is something we are far from at the present. It is true that we will never achieve this contrived, fabled state, but we can get as close as we possibly can to it, and we are. Right now we are as close to it as we have ever been, and this is something to be realized and celebrated.
Compared to any other time on Earth, today ranks as more peaceful, and tomorrow will rank as even more peaceful than today. All we have to do is sit back
and watch. This is not to say that we do not have to put effort into this — clearly we do. But humanity has been making the effort this entire time without even realizing it (The establishment of governments and the advent of technologies have all inadvertently contributed to the furthering of world peace), and we will continue to do so as the drive to advance as a species is biologically ingrained in us.
We live in the real world, not a utopia. In the real world, we have to deal with the unfortunate existence of things like disease, war, and scarcity. Sure, we can talk about hypothetical utopias where these plagues don’t exist, but really we know that those worlds are not potential realities. What we should be discussing are worlds where we have as little suffering as possible. And these worlds are coming, and in some sense they are already here. What we must continue to do is continue the trend of liberalization, modernization, and education that has ushered in this era of peacefulness. Look at the most violent areas on Earth – none of them have first world amenities to the same degree that we in the developed world have. These trailing countries must develop to match us, and we must also continue to develop, for development is the root of peace. And as long as we as a species continue to develop as we have, we should reap the rewards of a more peaceful world.
(Nicolas is a 17 year old Armenian-American student currently going into his senior year at La Jolla High School in California. During his junior year, he enrolled in an after school volunteer program where he has dedicated many hours editing and rewriting business documents. Upon completion of his work, he was asked to write an essay about peace for this year’s California International Music and Arts Festival (The Voice of Peace) taking place at the United Nations on August 11, 2015. This was the 10th Annual event organized by SACC, Sino-American Cultural Council, Help You Learn, LLC, and Azeneration. He was invited to the UN by the event organizers to deliver it as a speech.)