Just above 2000 years ago, a Jewish Rabbi by the name Jesus Christ, who we Christians hold in high esteem as our Saviour, stated: I give you peace, peace not as the world gives you, but peace that radiates from inside and impacts on the world. The world since time immemorial has sought peace, but that goal has remained elusive because the world has sought to create peace using instruments external to the human heart. Examples are weapons of war, diplomatic negotiations and several other strategies found in the politician’s arsenal. Whilst all of these strategies are noble, they miss the most important way of building peace in the world. That is, building peace first in the hearts and minds of humanity. This is the kind of peace that Jesus Christ, and indeed many of leaders of the great religions of the world, taught about. This is the kind of peace that UNESCO seeks to build in the world. In the following paragraphs shall be answered two main the questions: what it means to build peace in our hearts and minds; and how that peace building process impacts on the world.
But what is peace? It has been eloquently stated by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. that peace is not just the absence of war. Indeed, peace is a state of physical, social, economic and psychological well-being. It is a state of good neighbourliness that respects the common brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. It is born out of love of self and love for others. It emanates from tolerance of diversity. It comes out of respect of human rights such as freedom of choice, freedom of worship, freedom of expression, freedom of association and many other such. What then does it mean to build peace in our hearts and minds? Many belief systems are agreed that the terms heart and mind refer to our inner soul, our inner self, our thought processes, our feelings, emotions and perceptions of ourselves and the world around us. Peace-building must certainly begin in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds. What we believe about ourselves, our God or gods, others and the world around us has an enormous impact on the world’s peace and peace building processes.
An example can be cited from my country, Botswana, and African in general. We are a diverse country and continent, in terms of ethnicity, race and religion. Due to failure many times to accept our common brotherhood and sisterhood, we have found ourselves upsetting or frustrating the peace of the continent. Our failure to accept each other’s diversity, belief systems, thought patterns and perceptions of the world has many times led to conflict. This arises from deep within our hearts. If we cannot accept ourselves for who and what we are, and accept others for who and what they are, we begin to magnify our differences, which usually leads to conflict. Love for ourselves and love for our neighbours; that famous dictum preached by almost all of the world’s great religions, is the means to building peace in our hearts and in the world. If I love my neighbour as I love myself, I will not seek to hurt my neighbour. Where we have disagreements I will build bridges and mend fences. In my family, love is an important part of our life. It keeps bonds of family strong, and helps us keep the peace. Similarly, in a world in which love rules, peace prevails.
Building peace in our hearts and minds must therefore mean building love in us. Love softens human hearts, leads to forgiveness and fosters acceptance of diversity and respect for human rights. As many of the world’s belief systems affirm, love in our hearts can be built through educating our minds. Education builds better communities, richer cultures, and through advancing science, brings economic, social, cultural and psychological well-being to the world. Building peace in the world must therefore begin with building peace in our hearts and minds. Peace is more than the absence of war. It is a state of complete human well-being. If the world is to realise peace, it first has to build it in our hearts and minds. That can only be accomplished through nurturing love in our hearts, which can only be accomplished through educating our minds. We have celebrated our Golden jubilee Batswana; it is now up to us - now that we are 50 years old in terms of independence - to take extra means in building peace in our hearts and mind. PULA BATSWANA!
Lisa Bokani Motsu
Form IV student at Francistown Senior Secondary School