Sun Tsu’s masterpiece The Art of War expressed wisely that, “the greatest victory is that which requires no battle”. It established the golden rule of warfare: fight only when all other options have been exhausted, and if one can help it, avoid war at all costs. Unfortunately, the cost of war are not worth the spoils, and creates a debt that cannot be paid off.
It comes as no surprise that throughout history, war has always been the decision of a chosen few. Rarely was it fought by them; the burden of Death, dying, and reconstruction was always left to the citizenry. Paradoxically, one thing is certain: if the citizens can empower governments by choosing to fight, then can take their power back by choosing not to fight as well.
This is precisely why peace is the first line of defence for democracy, and why nonviolence is the true gauge of courage in times of social upheaval. Throughout the nihilism of the 1800s and the militarism of the 1900s, the philosophy of “might is right” has dominated Western thinking. In response to the will of kings, the global peace movement gathered momentum, using only the inner strength of individual character to determine the might of a generation.
PEACE MOVEMENT: SYMBOLISM AND ORIGINS
The peace sign dates back to February 1958 with the founding of the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War (DAC), which later became the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Gerald Holtom, a conscientious objector to nuclear weapons, combined two semaphore letters (‘N’ and ‘D’) to represent the words “nuclear disarmament”. The organisation uses it as its official symbol.
The rainbow flag was originally created in Italy by Franco Belsito in 1961 and normally features seven colours with the word pace (peace) in the middle. The expression “Pace da tutti i balconi” (peace from every balcony) became inseparable from Italian protests against the Invasion of Iraq.
The broken rifle was originally used by Dutch and Belgian objectors to World War I. It is also the name of a magazine published by War Resisters’ International.
The dove, a universal symbol for peace, originates from both Greek (Minoan) philosophy and the Biblical Story of the Flood. The goddesses Athena (wisdom) and Aphrodite (love) were represented by doves.
After WWI, the Women’s Cooperative Guild began handing out white poppies to protest the red ones used by the Royal British Legion to honor fallen soldiers.
The Quakers, part of the Religious Society of Friends, were some of the first “peaceniks” and were ruthlessly persecuted by both Anglicans and Puritans. They would eventually crusade against slavery during the Antebellum movement and fight globally for religious tolerance, women’s rights, and education reform.
Paper cranes have always represented honor and loyalty in Japan, but became synonymous with Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the sites of the American nuclear genocide against Japan. Japanese children believed that folding 1,000 cranes would grant them a wish. Sadako Sasaki briefly survived the aftermath of the bombings, and folded 1,300 cranes before passing away. Her story lives on as the book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
The United Nations was developed in June 1945 after the collapse of the League of Nations during the onset of WWII. The purpose of the UN was to create a platform for dialogue and intergovernmental dialogue for resolving disputes.