Peace Unchained by Ala Oueslati from Tunisia

Enough

When we fail to choose peace over war, we actually fail to find our identities. That’s when we start to realize that change doesn’t happen collectively, and that is when our emotional drives become so meaningless. I think what we need the most in order to promote an authentic culture of peace is a culture of difference, for there is nothing more natural than being different. Being different is the norm, not the exception, just because we were all born unique, a universal and all-inclusive characteristic that, whether we like it or not, makes difference the major ruling concept in our lives. And difference helps us express individuality, show self-confidence and promote tolerance, peace and love to a large audience, an audience that is home of the most innovative ideas, the most unfamiliar languages, the weirdest outfits and the most unusual talents. It is extraordinary.

What I’ve come to realize however, is that we fail miserably to maintain these differences and live with them. We have been able to achieve what we once thought was impossible. We conquered outer space and we developed the most sophisticated technologies. But we still follow each other. We still prefer to live in repetitive well-maintained systems and act monotonously, in isolated groups that cultivate disunity, distrust and xenophobia. We do that because we are afraid of the change and we are afraid of what others might say if we change.

Call me naive, but I think that quitting conflict is as trivial as quitting smoking. We do something bad for a long time and then under the influence of many factors, we decide that quitting is the best thing to do. This does not have to come from emotions, cognition or commitment to any faith or belief. It can only work if it comes from self-empowerment and the true desire to advance as a person of value in the society. The more well-thought this change is, the better the results are, because after all, doing comes from believing not the other way around.

As might be expected, many individuals explain the need to follow the crowd by the need for engagement, inclusion and social integration, claiming that when agreeing on a certain point and acting upon it, in a collective manner, we are able to maintain productivity and accordance. The truth is, however, that when being a follower for the sake of safe and easy inclusion, we lose our sense of identity, our freedom and most of all, our humanity. And that’s when we are the closest to the other species that we call “animalia”.

Unlike what many people think, the duality of peace and war is not a dilemma. The choice is not whether to choose peace or war. Because it cannot be a matter of preference or personalized decisions. There are numerous motives, influencers and ideas contributing to the choices we make. Similarly, there are many factors that help us observe, think, and assimilate the long-term vision of choosing one option over the other. In this instance, we need to let the factors that are related to our personal values and cognitive abilities affect us, and confront those related to collective goals, material interests, intentional and unintentional misinterpretation of religion, and most of all miscommunication and disunity. That’s the magic potion to generate peace, except, there is actually nothing magic about it. It’s pretty simple.

What makes choosing peace the most valid option is the belief that the choice itself is not an option. Options are found in cases with different possibilities and valid alternatives. But when a situation is about whether or not to kill an innocent person, there is no necessary additional information. The option is only one and it is to let this person live, for no reason but for it is the right thing to do. No one can ever know the greatness that that person can add to our time. No one has the right to terminate a human life.

The moment we start looking for a reason to choose peace is the moment we give ourselves one more reason to choose war. Let it be peace because any other option would be a step backward for humanity. So just live and let live.

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