Health: The basis for peace


"Nationalism is a disease, and it can never bring about world unity. We cannot attain health through disease, we must free ourselves from the disease."

Jiddu Krishnamurti .1 

When considering the end or declared aim of those in the peace movement, after closer inspection one could be forgiven for making the assumption that the cessation of conflict and the laying down of arms is the actual sought after end.

Peace is after all the absence of war as the familiar phrases 'peacetime' and 'protecting the peace' indicate.

Yet as is all too evident the laying down of arms and a halt in combat, for a shorter or longer length of time, bears little resemblance to peace understood as those conditions where two previously antagonistic parties can confidently move forward in relations of trust and co-operation.

All too often the still dimly lit embers of scorn continue to smoulder with fumes of suspicion, as adversaries remain in mutual tenterhooks lest the 'enemy' betray the hard won truce.

After all the cold war for the most part consisted of peaceful relations between the USSR and the USA. The only battle attracting attention, if battle is the right word, was that engaged for nuclear supremacy; fought through warhead production, posturing and proliferation.

In this way the cause of peace and the resultant campaigns bearing its name, have in time generally come to signify a contempt for, or a rejection of war, more so than an endorsement of human kinship and social progress.

Lasting peace must come to signify more the reconciliation of disparate groups towards a single aim rather than the last resort of war weary adversaries. 

Uniting for health

The nature of wars and conflict are usually characterised by the incidence of two or more groups of people; with as many designs on an area or immediate future.

Ideally, and this would be the operative word, it would work out that upon the cessation of conflict and the establishment of 'peace' of some kind amongst the embattled groups, some definite agreement or truce would be arrived at. Such an agreement would be based upon a single understanding of the future or arrangement of the area under contention. An agreement, which would then be adopted by one group of previously divided and warring, peoples.

A greater unity then, would be discovered. The ruptures that distinguished the warring parties would have given place to the consciousness of and identification with a new whole. A whole reconciled to move forward on one design that has triumphed-for a shorter or longer length of time-amidst varying designs promoted through the force of arms. Both groups united as one group, that is, adherents to a 'co-existence clause'. The limits of which are totality or health.

From this angle peace is founded on two or more groups becoming one; becoming one whole and sealing the fractures that set them at odds.

Such unity though need not signify conformity or passive compliance, rather a group of diverse peoples who are happy-for a shorter or longer length of time-to identify themselves

as seeking and being united by some common aim. An aim that both secures their future in an equally secure area whilst uniting them as one.

Perhaps if things were left to themselves the modern plethora of cross-cultural, international and intergovernmental institutions, through a similar confluence, would grow and gradually develop into the so-commonly envisioned world of United Nations.

Furthermore, if indeed this was the common effect of peace as we have come to know it there would not be over 30 or so conflicts raging in the world, as it appears our apparent understanding-for a shorter or longer length of time-of ourselves as part of a group and beyond that, a group of humanity, has yet to demonstrate the interrelationship characteristic of a whole flourishing as health. 

Order and the hygiene of the whole

A peace of this kind whilst ambitious, goes beyond the conventional aim of disarmament, and the signing of cease-fires. Indeed, the health of the group can only be preserved where there is some accompanying 'hygiene'.

Such hygiene will facilitate the ends the group members seek and systematise the status such ends grant. That is, the enjoyment of basic living requirements as the birthright of a human being.

Where these conditions and rights are not enjoyed the health of the group is challenged, as those of the group so suffering will surely identify themselves and subsequently their aims as distinct from those of other group members, and in extreme cases resort to violence to achieve them-the general means through which such division will find expression.

It is through the group's inherent power to organise that it must administer the necessary hygienic measures in such a way that in the unfolding of group life no contradiction arises between common rights and individual participation in the group life.

Preservation of common privileges amongst the group is the intended outcome of any generated hygiene. Order and custom that enables and promotes the right of all to equal security and dignity, serves to correlate the differences of the group to a measure of wholeness or health that would not otherwise be possible as separate groupings vying over an area and its attendant resources.

If integration into wider aggregates and subsequent health define our modern aspirations to an eventual world order-as the creation of national, regional and intergovernmental institutions would suggest; the unity and health of the group must be safeguarded through the appropriate hygienic measures.

Naturally, what accounts for human nature and the self-evident requirements of each varies in different environments and cultures. Hence, what is viewed as common rights and responsibilities must emerge, as freely as much as it does so, appealing to all groups concerned.  

Change-from the past to the future

For the perpetual preservation of group health, alongside hygiene a group must rely on its ability to respond to the factor of change; environmental, social and economic as it unpredictably arises and challenges the stability of the group and its subsequent relationships.

Often change will cause disruptions and test group relations as its handling can set groups against each other. Conflict may arise as the change may seemingly benefit one group at the expense of another. The creation of Israel is such a case where Jewish calls for a safe state of their own, aroused by the horrors of the holocaust, have resulted in the Palestinian experiencing Jewish occupation, and the Palestinian indigenous right to remain in their homeland systematically violated.

In such situations, concerns over conflicting interests arise between those who call for change and those required to change. If left to fester such resentments can impair group security and create divisions, causing cycles of violence that not only erode local stability, but also that of the surrounding region.

General group sensitivity and self-awareness must ensure that all parties subject to the change have their interests taken into account. Failure to do this commonly leads to social upheaval and the violent overthrow of governments, once governments fail to take into account or rapidly respond to the urgent needs of their people during some crisis. .2

Equally governments will resort to force when those they govern fail or refuse to make the necessary adjustments to some new condition or circumstance. This can be seen in instances of radical turmoil like curfews during natural disasters, and the imposition of martial law during a national emergency.

It is often lack of information or misinformation that account for the gaps in understanding between the group and its centre or government. In the absence of such understanding the identity and objectives of the group and those of its centre can polarise and crystallise, resulting in the emergence of two groups with inherently distinct understandings of any group objective. .3

Uncomfortable as they can be, changes commonly embody developments in, and subsequent opportunity for, group progress. Changes and the way they are managed can develop the group capacity to adapt to conditions and through them acquire new strengths to encounter further challenges.

The group qualities and attributes are enriched thereby, enhancing its experience. Changes such as those brought about by Martin Luther King, the Suffragettes movement along with the ideological repercussions of the French Revolution were essential for the society and time in which they occurred. 

Integration-from without emerge challenges within

Often the groups' integration into a wider aggregate can cause difficulty, as the group has to reconcile its mode and system with that of the group it is becoming a part. Its status as a viable component of a national, regional or international aggregate exposes it to a new environment with its corresponding hygienic requirements.

This is a particularly delicate situation for the group-governing agency, as it has not only to adapt to the greater identity but also the effect such integration has on its own number.

It is vital that in the process health is not fractured, as it will both condition the groups unity, and comprise the basis for any such expansion.

The ongoing creation of a unified Europe is a good example where economic, legalistic and not least cultural factors, all serve to tax group governance to the limit, whilst causing it to repeat on a wider scale the integration its own constituents had undergone in its earlier development. .4 Perhaps this time the integration involves wider and more varied interests to isolate and harmonise.

For effective and peaceful assimilation into the wider grouping the health of the group, like the human organism, must rely on the co-operative balance of its inner functions, while itself maintaining a harmonious integration with the aggregate or environment of which it is becoming a part.

This requires a dynamic resolution of the groups inner divisions in order to more wholly integrate with the wider collective. This is essential if the wider group, in turn, does not suffer the inclusion of a fragmented part. An admission likely destabilising its existing health as opposed to increasing its relative area. Unity within more readily promotes unity without.

It is through such integrating processes that the importance of group sensitivity becomes apparent as a group centre that is responsive to its parts while they are responsive to each other form the basis for that continual accommodation upon which the wider groups health depends.

All too often though we see that where responsibility and interaction breakdown, fractures appear between group members disrupting peace and threatening war.

Any hygienic measures must in practise satisfy and protect all group members and embody ideals to which they all commonly aspire. Such consensus on group progress stands in stark contrast to the hegemonic order we observe at present. Which, though irksome and dissonant with regard to the aforementioned definition of health, actually reveals a definite measure of unity.

The fitness of our order is repeatedly imposed by an immediate threat of force- diplomatic, economic, military and is facilitated by the fear and habitual conformity it engenders.

Such existence is guaranteed so long as the dominant fundamentals-which appear to be self assertion and division- are adopted by the group and inform our general conception of progress.

When looking at the debacle of Iraq one cant help thinking that for most Iraqi's the heinous unity generated by Saddam Hussein was an 'order' more tolerable and efficient than the one immediately following him, which at present is sadly anything but. 

The establishment of peace in our world

Peace then, must result from the continual balancing of mutually antagonistic forces or factions whom having been reconciled can become a single force with a united aim.

Essentially the identity and awareness of the group constituents must reflect that of common stakeholders to an equally common future. Peace so-called will ever remain tenuous so long as constituents remain oblivious and indifferent to each other's interests and circumstances.

The realty of the global society, however inequitable, makes such accommodation incumbent upon us; particularly so in the present period of 'global terrorism' where the interests of one group become, and are taken up by, the interests of many. Sad indeed it is, that indiscriminate murder should become the binding agent.

It is at least encouraging that it has served to unite many parties in action to address the cancerous fractures that threaten to disrupt the sought after health.

In looking to the future we could consider a scenario where the United Nations is the chief global governing agency charged with exercising group hygiene and where adherence to international law is the marker of our overall health.

Yet, sadly we are still at an early stage in the practise and comprehension of international relations, let alone some basic regard for any 'international relatives'.

Therefore the basis for any authentic peace or harmony with 'others' must be the evolving beyond the status of fractions of a struggling whole.

Upon the establishment of the whole, health will consist of the very continual assimilation and subsequent equilibrium of positions, intentions and forces working at large within the group at any one time. Where there is a preponderance or over-exertion of any of these forces, the group health is threatened by an equally assertive reaction from some other force within the group seeking to show an equal or greater display of assertiveness.

Common action for common security must characterise hygienic measures employed to not only protect the peace, but also in the interests of all to restore it once it is fractured. 

"He has created in himself a single new humanity, thereby making peace."

St Paul .5


Fidel Asante (c) Autumn 2004 ,


  1. From 'Education and the Significance of Life' , p73, by Jiddu Krisnamurti, Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, 1955
  2. The French Revolution would be a good example of this where food shortages led to intolerable food prices, necessitating civil action. The Cuban Revolution under Castro was also precipitated by an economy experiencing a 30% fall in the value of sugar exports, a society in which only 1% had university education, 3.5% had high school education, 29.4% had three years education or less and 31% of the population had no education at all.
  3. Such differences can become explosive where the governing and the governed represent differing traditions; such as the tribal/ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka amongst the Sinhalese and Tamil peoples, the Taliban and Tribal clan tensions in Afghanistan, the Muslim and Christian tensions in Serbia and the Hutu and Tutsi clashes in Rwanda.
  4. The influx of economic migrants from to larger EU countries from newly joining states and other places has already created an unsurprising adjustment issue in the UK. Particularly in the arena of employment where in certain sectors the emergence of foreigners has led to plummeting wages, threatening the job security of native workers.
  5. From 'Ephesians 2.15' -the Bible.