concept of peace ranks among the most
controversial in our time. Peace undoubtedly
carries a positive connotation; almost
nobody admits to opposing peace; world
peace is widely seen as one of the most
noble goals of humanity. Various groups,
however, differ sharply about what peace
entails, how best to achieve peace, and
whether peace is even truly possible.
Peace is many things: the meaning of the
word peace changes with context. Peace
may refer specifically to an agreement
concluded to end a war, or to a lack of
external warfare, or to a period when
a country's armies are not fighting enemies.
It can also refer more generally to quietude,
such as that common at night or in remote
areas, allowing for sleep or meditation.
Peace can be an emotion or internal state.
And finally, peace can be any combination
of these defintions.
person's conception of "peace"
is often the product of culture and upbringing.
People of different cultures sometimes
disagree about the meaning of the word,
and so do people within any given culture.
A simple and narrow definition of peace
entails the absence of war. (The ancient
Romans defined peace, Pax, as Absentia
Belli, the absence of war.) By this definition,
however, we might consider the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, the Sudan, and
perhaps even North Korea at peace because
none of these countries engages in deadly
combat with external enemies. The maintenance
of longstanding peace between nations
ranks among the few great successes of
the United Nations.