Taking a global view of a word which is daily bandied around NI, Umberto Eco argues that one of our problems in the west is that we assume that peace is the natural and perfect state of being.
“In the era of globalisation, global peace becomes impossible. So there remains just one possibility for peace: working for peace on a case-by-case basis, creating each time a possible peaceful solution in the context of wars that follow one after another. Peace on a local basis can be achieved if, when combatants are wearied, a negotiating agency puts itself forward as a mediator and produces a ceasefire. A continuous series of these > “small peaces” can, in the long term, act as a sort of drain by washing away the tension produced by permanent war.”
But in advance of a possible conflict in Iraq, he emphases the prodigeous difficulties achieving peace:
“Universal peace is like the desire for immortality: so difficult to achieve that religions promise immortality not before but after death. However, a small peace is like the act of a doctor who cures a wound: not a promise of immortality, but at least a way to postpone death.”
Eco previously wrote a similar piece on the roots of conflict, just after 11th September,