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Peace & Pacifist Views

Peace & Pacifist Views
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  • 00:00 What Is Peace?
  • 00:45 Aspects of Peace
  • 1:50 Pacifism
  • 5:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Peace and pacifism are notable parts of our modern moral beliefs, but what exactly do these terms mean? Explore these ideas and test your understanding with a brief quiz.

What Is Peace?

Hey, man, make peace, not war. I think we all know by now that violence is bad, right? So, like, just make peace instead!

Peace, in a philosophical sense, is a freedom from violence and it's pretty sweet, right? Ok, ideally, yes, this sounds nice, but where does peace really fit into the world? After all, the concept of peace has been one of the most sought-after and yet elusive ideals in human history. Is peace practical or is it just a word used by hippies? Well, let's find out. Just give me a few minutes to state my piece.

Aspects of Peace

So let's talk a little bit about peace. Like I said, at its most basic, peace is a freedom from violence. Nations who are not at war are at peace. People who live their lives without being threatened or physically harmed live a life of peace. But there's a bit more to it as well.

Peace can also be a goal in nonviolent conflicts. Say two friends are in a fight. They may not intend to physically harm each other, but their anger can still lead to emotional or psychological anguish. In this sense, peace implies reconciliation, forgiveness, and healthy relationships.

Finally, there's also inner peace, which is a spiritual, emotional, or psychological calm. Ever feel really stressed? Sometimes your mind needs to deal with emotional issues, maybe fear or loss, before it can feel at peace. So, peace is actually a pretty important part of our social, emotional, and psychological happiness. It's more than just being free of physical harm.

Pacifism

Peace can be described as a freedom for violence or a resolution of social and personal conflicts, but really it's still just an idea or, at best, a state of being. However, to achieve peace, you need to put these ideals into practice. Pacifism is the social and political devotion to peace. Pacifists generally oppose violent conflict of any sort, so warfare, violence, and killing are always wrong.

So, how do pacifists resolve conflicts? Do they just ignore every problem in their lives? Come on, have you heard of the 1960s? Pacifism does not involve turning a blind eye and actually, most schools of pacifism teach that you have a moral obligation to actively campaign for peace everywhere you go. Let's look at famous pacifists throughout history.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. championed the idea of nonviolent protest during the Civil Rights protests of the 1960s. In this pacifist view, your ability to suffer without retaliating with violence is intended to sway people's emotions and help them see your side. This idea was also embraced by Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian independence movement. A great number of the martyred saints recognized by the Catholic Church were also pacifists, most of whom chose to give up their lives rather than resort to violence. So, pacifism does not mean inaction. It can require selfless sacrifice and a very long-term mindset, seeking to create eventual but lasting change as opposed to immediate solutions.

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