By Asghar Ali Engineer [firstname.lastname@example.org]
The whole world is faced with conflict and violence today. In fact there has been no period in history, which has not witnessed violent conflicts. But at the same time there have been sages, prophets, thinkers, religious personalities, writers, poets and Sufis who always emphasized love, peace and harmony. Though both trends i.e. of violence and of peace and harmony have gone together violence and conflict remains predominant in our memory.
Peace is desired by overwhelming majority of human beings and it is few who want to perpetuate violence, war and conflict. We must remember that violence and conflict is perpetrated by powerful vested interests whether they are local, regional, national or inter-national. Conflict is product of clashes of interests, not of religion or civilization, as some theorists maintain. These interests can also be divided into various categories i.e. economic, political, religious or social.
It is also important to remember that vested interests often invoke religion, language, nation or ideology to legitimize their interests. It should not deceive us. A peace activist should be able to see through these interests and not be deceived by an attempt to legitimize. Because of attempt to seek legitimation by vested interest we often think that conflict is religious or national though it is not. Categories like religion or nation are not fundamental causes of conflict or violence. They are instrumental causes i.e. they are used as powerful instruments by the vested interests. Thus we should distinguish between fundamental and instrumental causes.
If we keep this in mind it will be easier to understand these conflicts, if not resolve it. Resolving conflicts needs different kind of skills. We will throw some light on this little later. When one nation attacks on the other or one religious group attacks on the other they use emotional national or religious rhetoric as a strategy or even outright deception to mobilize support of their respective countrymen or religious community. A peace worker should never be deceived by such emotional rhetoric.
It is also important to remember that root cause of conflict is often injustice with weaker sections of society and the weaker sections may be poor, may be linguistic, cultural or religious minorities or migrants from other countries. Justice and peace, it should be remembered, are inseparable. Where there is injustice, there will be conflict. Peace can never be established by using mere rhetoric or exhortation. For peace to prevail one must first establish justice.