We need a peace ministry

2014-06-18 00:00

PEACE and gratitude have a unique spiritual resonance within each one of us. Let us look at what peace and gratitude can look like when a portal, i.e. a department, is created to host it in its physical form — a Ministry of/for Peace and Gratitude.

By making peace and gratitude more visible, more tangible, we also make it more accessible to achieve (every South African citizen is looking for peace). Further, the law of the universe says that if you are grateful, the universe will give you more to be grateful for. Likewise, if you complain, shout, scream and get angry, the universe gives you more to complain about, more to shout about, more to scream about and more to get angry about. So, let’s promote peace and gratitude.

About 100 years ago, education was not a civil right as it is today. It was limited to those who were privileged, had wealth or were born male. Most people became what they were taught as an apprentice by a parent or mentor. There were far fewer options for women. Today, governments allocate a very large percentage of their budgets to education.

Another example is the environment. Fifty years ago, a Ministry of Environmental Affairs was created and people asked: “What on Earth do we need this ministry for? We have enough resources to last us for eternity.”

Today, we are in a global crisis due to our abuse of our planetary resources, which has caused drastic climatic changes.

We all want peace and gratitude in our lives, yet we appear to require some structure or pathway to attain this. Sometimes faith, rituals, teachings or prayer provide these guidelines.

To cater for the many who do not find peace, some thought leaders are creating peace academia and institutions for peace building, just as people did for education. Education should be used as a vehicle to instil peace in our children.

Why should the government get involved?

We believe that while the values or principles of dignity and security are mentioned in the Constitution, there is no explicit commitment to the right of peaceful existence. Clause 12(1)(C) states: “Everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources.”

Even though freedom from violence is a prerequisite for peace, it is insufficient to achieve a culture of and the conditions for pervasive peace in our society.

A Department of Peace and Gratitude would signify a real and considerable commitment by the government to the idea of peace, and the implementation of structures and processes that would create and maintain a peaceful society. The government would be the primary symbol and structure for embedding the idea of peace and gratitude in the national psyche.

Before 1910, South Africa had no Department of Education. Its establishment has now secured the right of every child to education. The same could hold true for peace and gratitude.

In addition to being the guardian and disseminator of peace, a department would be the primary research body and repository of information about the building and maintenance of peace and gratitude.

The department would serve as a co-ordinating body which would ensure that both public and private organisations provide the necessary services, as the government would not be the soul provider of peace structures and processes. The government would also co-ordinate mediation and conflict-resolution services. This would include peace structures for any political conflict and criminal violence, i.e. local, provincial and national peace councils.

Peace is more than the absence of conflict. It’s about prerequisite conditions for peace. Within our society, the most fundamental conditions of peaceful existence lie in the provision of housing, jobs and family support. Peace, gratitude and prosperity go in hand with basic human needs.

We need to create a non-violent peace force (trained and equipped people to go into conflict areas, who are fully appraised of tribal, cultural and political situations to create platforms for dialogue and collaboration). This would take our democracy to a new height. This would and should become the next support system for humankind in its quest for equality and sustainability.

What can help us is our ability to seek the right relationships through peaceful dialogue and other alternatives to violence. This need is to become a natural act, like brushing our teeth and combing our hair.

Peace and gratitude are divine principles. We need to get real about their application and sustained use, not only for our sake, but for future generations.

There is a glowing global call for peace and peaceful co-existence. What was once the domain of an idealistic few has become the concern and practical choice for all.

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