An optimist and a pessimist were asked to briefly explain the benefit of the social sciences. The optimist gave for an answer, “To help humans get along.” The pessimist replied, “To prevent humans from killing one another”.
Now that many are celebrating the holiday season, I believe it is appropriate to write a blog on the subject of peace. For those of you who have been following my blogs, you know by now that, peace and peace of mind is one of the five states humans long for. Yet, unfortunately, as I pointed out in my book, “The Path to a Meaningful Purpose”, there is little peace and peace of mind in this world. Here are some statistics:
• Depression affects 121 million people worldwide. It can affect a person’s ability to work, form relationships, and destroy their quality of life.
• Over one million people die by suicide worldwide each year.
• On average, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world.
• Global suicide rates have increased 60% in the past 45 years.
• Human Rights Watch estimates that 200,000 to 300,000 children are currently serving as soldiers for both rebel groups and government forces in armed conflicts. The best guess is that 100,000 of those fight in Africa. Myanmar also has a large number of child soldiers, although not in rebel groups but in the government armed forces. Soldiers under age 18 were reported in 21 armed conflicts in 2002-2007. The proportion of child soldiers in some armed groups was up to 70%.
• Since the Second World War, there have been on average about 30 armed conflicts ongoing every year. 90% of casualties in these conflicts have been civilians, compared to 50% in the Second World War and 10% in the First. 128 armed conflicts since 1989 have resulted in at least 250,000 deaths each year.
• Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported.
• Violence causes more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide every year. More than 90% of these occur in low- and middle-income countries. Violence is one of the leading causes of death in all parts of the world for persons ages 15 to 44.
Psychologically sound individuals are not into the meaningless – which includes being tormented by strife with self and others. On the other hand, people who strive to be psychologically sound intend to do the meaningful – which includes getting along with others and fostering harmonious environments. The father of Individual Psychology, the Austrian, Alfred Adler, offered that the ultimate solution to human strife was cooperation.
The only individuals who can really meet and master the problems of life, however, are those that show in their striving a tendency to enrich all others, who go ahead in such a way that others benefit also. All human judgments of value and success are founded, in the end, upon cooperation; this is the great shared commonplace of the human race.
The central thesis of my book bids that mankind does not suffer from a lack of answers. Rather it suffers despite the answers being available.
We do know, as a species, how to live in peace. Unfortunately not enough people with enough frequency foster peaceful conditions. Meaningful Purpose Psychology proposes that if we are going to play a meaningful role for peace on Earth we need to willingly commit and purpose to do everything in our power to foster harmony.
Finally, I leave you with two quotes from Viktor Frankl, relevant to the subject of peace.
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
― Viktor E. Frankl
“A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes – within the limits of endowment and environment- he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Do you experience your own “Peace on Earth”? Try this poll and see how you compare with others!
Copyright, 2013. Luis A. Marrero. Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose. (www.bostonimp.com)