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Understanding Peace Holistically

From the Spiritual to the Political

Scherto Gill and Garrett Thomson

Understanding Peace Holistically: From the Spiritual to the Political argues that spiritually rooted and morally oriented peacefulness is relevant to the socio-economic–political structures that provide the conditions for a culture of peace. As the authors build up a theory of peace from the spiritual to the relational and communal towards the socio-political, this book also identifies key principles that characterise international and institutional processes that nurture peace. The holistic conception of peace developed in this book may guide and inspire individuals, institutions, and international organisations with regards to how to make peace.

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Chapter 3: Peacefulness in Relationships



Peacefulness in Relationships

Peacefulness is a feature of conflict. All relationships between individuals, groups, institutions and social systems are conflictive. People have different interests, emotions and understandings; ineluctably this means conflict. Thus, peace cannot be defined as a lack of conflict. Indeed, peacefulness as a value only becomes operative when there is conflict. In part, peacefulness means that conflictual relations won’t make destructive waves. It is the quality that allows conflictual relations to exist without displacing other intrinsic goods that constitute human flourishing. For instance, peacefulness in the family is when a specific conflict doesn’t affect negatively the other good features of family life. Or, for example, when one squabbles with a friend, it doesn’t affect the friendship. As already established, peacefulness mutes the violent potential of conflicts.

What does it mean to live in peaceful relations with other people? The core of the previous chapter was that inner peacefulness consists in self-identification that is consistent with one’s status as a being of intrinsic or non-instrumental value. Insofar as one perceives and appreciates oneself as such, then one will not identify oneself in ways that instrumentalize oneself and bring psychological violence to one’s internal conflicts. Our concern in this chapter is that peacefulness also applies to one’s relationships with other←55 | 56→ people. Just as one is a being of non-instrumental value, so too equally are other people. Insofar as we have peacefulness in interpersonal relationships, both parties will appreciate and treat the...

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