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Discovering the real meaning of peace and understanding its source



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Founder; African Conflict Resolution Initiative

What is peace? Who has the keys to peace? Where do we find peace? Who is messing up with our peace? These and many more are some of the questions we read or hear every single day. These questions are asked by the young and the old alike, the questions transcend gender orientation leaving men and women alike in the same lock of wonder. The rich like the poor spend sleepless nights pondering their next step to acquisition of peace. The racial and cultural scales have all been balanced out by the same questions. And while the illiterates believe that the elites have the answers to the question of peace, the elites in their intellectual world seem to believe what you don’t know does not steal away your peace thus making it seem like the illiterates are better off. The three years I have spent in active advocacy for peace have given me a great opportunity of interacting with real life experiences of endless quest for peace among different members of our communities.

So what is peace? While every person and organization has their own understanding and academic definition of peace, I like defining and understanding things from a highly practical or call it every day point of view. As such I define peace as an individual holistic feeling of safety regardless of the prevailing circumstances. The holistic feeling of safety, encompasses the Physical, mental and spiritual intrinsic confidence in the natural laws of nature and social realities. Johan Galtung a Norwegian scholar considered the father of peace studies, identified two types of peace; (i) negative peace and (ii) Positive peace. Where negative peace refers to the absence of violence but with gross presence of systemic constrains to one’s ability to achieve their full potential. Positive peace on the other hand refers to a state in which all forms of violence are eliminated and each individual is able to have access to resources, power, and justice and attain their full potential without any impediments (Ogbonna, 2018). I want to divide peace further in to two (i) Intrinsic peace and (ii) extrinsic peace. Intrinsic peace refers to a naturalized holistic state of calm which is independent of environmental factors. People with intrinsic peace remain logical, focused and stand strong even in the face of life most difficult moments. The intrinsic peace is intentionally developed nurtured and mastered to become

an integral character of an individual. Extrinsic Peace on the other hand refers to emotionally driven feelings of safety highly dependent on environmental factors. Any miss alignment in the expectations and opinions creates a disorientation to the extrinsic peace. The restoration and sustainability of the extrinsic peace once lost requires the intervention of third parties.

Does anyone specifically hold the keys to peace? My answer is YES and that person is yourself. Not your parents, employer, religious leaders, armed forces or the head of state can ever hand you the peace platter which you so much need. If they do, it will be an extrinsic peace or alien feeling that only will exist for a limited time and vanish as time passes by. Is peace locked up in a particular place? I think peace is like the air we breathe, it’s with us everywhere we go including in the intensive care units. Peace is everywhere and in abundance at no cost, our biggest challenge is always how to preserve it. Have you ever asked yourself why you wake up every morning and run out of your precious bed, abandon your family the whole day, endure abuses from strangers, go to your place of worship often, and or take life threatening risks? You do all the above in order to feel physically, mentally and spiritually secure. The last question I wish to address in this article today is; who is messing up with our peace? Life is not static, human beings are not solitary but rather relational. Because of the nature of human beings which is diverse, our path are bound to cross. Our interests will collide our priorities will differ, our level of understanding and perceptions will vary and l will drag us in to conflict situations which will mess with our peace. The natural occurrences such as sickness and death which are either induced by human actions or occur naturally, continue hitting all human beings off the weigh scale of peace. The level to which your cup of peace drains is highly dependent on how you have positioned and prepared yourself for the occurrence of worst case scenarios in life and built your intrinsic confidence to handle unavoidable circumstances.

How can one develop and sustain intrinsic peace? There is to clear cut mathematical formula or social principles that every individual must follow in the development of intrinsic peace, but what is pertinent is for us to have a basic understanding of what intrinsic peace is and start practicing it under all circumstances. I will however share with you some basic principles for development of intrinsic peace; (i) Acknowledgement of the inherent laws of nature impact on peace – (what natural occurrences strain your peace off its normal point?) (ii) Determine the band width of your level of accommodation- (what can you accommodate beyond which your peace is weighed off balance?)

(iii) Focus on your strength (what is within your reach that you can maximally use to address the peace stresses?

If conflict is one of the greatest enemies to our individual, social, national and international peace, in my next article I want to dive and unearth the mystery of conflict so that we have a basic but vivid understanding of our everyday conflicts.


Ogbonna, C. C. (2018). Belligerent Peace. XXXV(1), 63–82.

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