As chair of Hiroshima’s Peace Culture Foundation (2007 to 2013), I was frequently asked to define peace and peace culture. Now, as executive director of Peace Culture Village, I am getting the same questions, so I’ll give you my answers du jour.
Peace is social health. Your body is made up of 60 trillion cells, as well as vast numbers of organisms that don’t even share your DNA. When all those cells and organisms are getting sufficient nutrition, clean water, and sanitation services in an environment that allows them to perform their proper functions, we call that health. Societies are healthy to the extent that their members (99%, not just 1%) have nutrition, clean water, and supportive environments.
Our current war culture is structured by the competitive effort to make oneself or one’s subgroup healthy and happy (comfortable, secure, etc.). Most of us engage wholeheartedly in this competition without considering how we affect folks around us, those across the tracks, and the Earth as a whole. Peace culture starts with the intention to restore our entire planet and everyone on it (including our plant and animal neighbors) to good health. The shared goal in a peace culture is sustainable universal wellbeing.
The distinguishing characteristic of a war culture is the acceptance of violence as an appropriate, legitimate or at least an unavoidable method of intergroup conflict resolution. Peace culture, by definition, does not accept group-on-group violence (war). The belief that violence, though bad, is good when good guys use it against bad guys, is the primary reason the war culture remains dominant. Until the human family abandons this belief, we will continue to be ruled by leaders skilled in the arts of lying, cheating, stealing, trickery, and violence. As long as resolutions determined by violence are accepted, violence will always win. Where winning by violence is accepted, all is fair.
I wrote a book on this subject called Hiroshima Resolution, which I will be happy to sell to you for a mere US$10 plus shipping, so I have quite a lot more to say about peace culture, but the essential commitments are: 1) the pursuit of sustainable universal wellbeing and 2) the nonviolent resolution of conflict.
Not everyone in the Peace Culture Village shares these commitments, nor are visitors or villagers required to do so. We ask only that you engage in a conscientious effort to figure out what peace culture is and how to promote it quickly enough to avoid human extinction.