Sustaining Peace in the Universe

by Anwar Fazal (January 2016)

Photo by Bart (cc) via Flickr

Photo by Bart (cc) via Flickr

Peace has to me five interesting dimensions – peace with ourselves, peace with other people, peace with other living things, peace with the planet Earth and fifthly, peace with the universe. Each of these dimensions has their own dynamics and yet each of them has a deep interconnectedness with the other. Each of the dimensions is itself in tension as people are not in peace with themselves, leading to suicides estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) some years ago to be one person every 40 seconds. Peace with others is also wanting. That same estimate says that one person is murdered every 60 seconds and one person dies in armed conflicts every 100 seconds. Tensions with the environment are leading to dismal outcomes described often as “falling off the cliff”! Our links with the universe have their own uncertainties made worse by us shooting garbage into the skies.

If ever a supreme leadership of the universe established an Intergalactic Commission on how we “Earthlings” are managing this planet, how we are exercising our “planethood” responsibilities, the Commission would be shocked by our mindless irresponsibility – our “planethood” index would probably be dismal! They will probably state that we have an “economy” driven lavishly by “casino capitalism”, where injustice, waste and violence continue to flourish, where “ecocide”, the paths to self destruction, seem set, with the light at the end of the tunnel being more and more a devastating explosion into extinction. Our great failures have been described as the “twin evils” of ignorance and arrogance of the “Anthropocene Age”, the one where humans have become the violent and super dominant pillagers!

Fortunately, the Commission would say that there is a new awakening and there is hope. A new “eco-conscience” is emerging that is making us critically aware that as long there is insensitivity to the organic and dynamic interconnections of the five dimensions of peace, there is no easy future. We are seeing also an awakening of what is used to be called “deep ecology”. We see many new larger frameworks that espouse the interconnectivity. The United Nations (UN) has adopted “Mother Earth Day” – a transformative language shift to think of the whole Earth as a living thing, a Mother. We have also seen the development of some remarkable tools that give us values, principles and action suggestions for sustainable peace.

Among these platforms are the following:

  1. The Earth Charter. It speaks of four pillars of respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice and democracy, non-violence and peace.
  2. The Universal Declaration of The Rights of Mother Earth. This declaration beautifully describes ten inherent rights of Mother Earth including the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions and the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being.
  3. The Declaration of Interdependence. This is a powerful yet simple enunciation of the links between everything – the interdependence of its multiverse parts, the five dimensions.

If we want peace, real sustainable peace, think of the planet as a mother sailing in the universe. A new deep thinking can keep humanity afloat on a journey of justice and happiness towards sustainable peace. If we don’t, we will have water wars to space wars, from killing body burdens of poisonous chemicals, to no air to breathe, no food to eat and nuclear incineration. It will lead to the end – ecocide. Already, over 40 years ago, in conjunction with the first United Nations Conference of the Environment held in 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden, an effort by civil society was made to make “Ecocide – The Fifth Crime against Peace”. A draft “Ecocide Convention” was submitted to the United Nations in 1973. It was resisted and resisted, plagued by a continuum of people like the present day “Climate Crisis Deniers”.

We now urgently need more robust action. We need the youth of the world to be the wind under wings of the new awakening towards sustaining peace in the universe.

You are the rainbow of hope. You can make the change we need.


Anwar Fazal is the Director of the Right Livelihood College. He is a recipient of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) “Global 500” and the Right Livelihood Award popularly known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”. For more information, visit www.rightlivelihood.org or www.anwarfazal.net.