The human civilization has always been shadowed by the dark clouds of war. As the ability of man to conquer nature increases, so does its ability to destroy the earth and itself. In the 20th century, two world wars brought a huge disaster. Due to the increase in the lethality of military weapons, the primary cause of death was direct military conflict, rather than disease. After the end of the Cold War, civilized conflicts, differences in values, and conflicts of national interests remained. It will lead to constant wars, and racial conflicts and hatred remain widespread. After the 9.11 attacks, in the United States emerged anti-Muslimism and stigmatization of Islam. Peace education was considered “unpatriotic.” Although peace is the desire of mankind, it has become a luxury. War and conflict have emerged as one of the major problems with the modern world. An effective solution to this problem is through peace education.
The commercialization of violence and the violent entertainment drive the violence in the mass media and use violence to attract people’s attention and earn profits and reputation. In most film and television works, justice is just a gimmick, and violence is the core element that attracts people. “Not all violence is deadly. It begins with anger, intolerance, impatience, unfair judgement and aggression. It is often reflected in our language, our entertainment, our driving, our competitive behavior, and the way we treat our environment. The acts and attitudes are not the same as abusive behavior or physical attacks, but they create a climate where violence prospers and peace suffers. (US Catholic Bishops).” Violence has even developed into an aesthetic. The simplification and intensification of the contradictory manifestation of violence distorted the real contradictions in real life, and evaded the inherent spiritual needs of man. Such kind of “education” is destroying the aspiration for peace in the younger generations and brainwashing them about cruelty and violence.
People may pay little attention to the fact that, in primary and secondary school curricula, violence, though not manifested directly in the form of bloodshed, prevails in an implicit manner. Taking history lessons as an example, revolutions, wars, and uprisings have been given the idealized praise. The two warring sides are seen as opposing each other. The opponent is reduced to the target that one needs to eliminate, not the same kind of human being that one must respect. Looking at the entire history class of teaching materials, more attention is paid to the use of war strategies and the outcomes of the war, but there is a general lack of reflection and criticism of the cruelty of the war as a means. According to Pope John Paul II: “Never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred (Pope John Paul II).” Such an important teaching is not embodied in today’s education.
In contrast, peace is seen more as an international and political business. It seems to be a matter that politicians need to worry about and has little to do with ordinary citizens. It can be expected that the symbolic and embellishment peace educations often fall apart in the face of actual conflicts of interest. Such indifference should be criticized. In the 2010 film, I Am, Tom Shadyac began to realize the truth about the world. The answer to the question: “what is wrong with the world?” lies in the title: “I am.” If every member of the human race makes a little change, the effect would be tremendous. Sadly, most people don’t realize this and are thus reluctant to act. In addition, the theme of environmental protection continues to emerge in education. But in scientific studies, such as physics, chemistry, biology, the emphasis is on the development of students’ instrumental rationality or the mastery of knowledge and the conquest of nature. This leads to the emergence of heartless and soulless politicians and scientists, who are capable of more damage than ordinary people.
Faced with the problems of violence media and lack of peace education, a basic understanding of peace must be established. There have been many discussions on globalization and peace. We recognize that this global opportunity for thinking and action is the result of global awareness, responsibility and solidarity. Interdependent and closely linked economic networks also do not allow any country to launch a risky action to tear down the global network. A stable and powerful economic network will effectively stop the war. The Internet activities, especially the youth activities, will bring about a global cross-cultural, cross-religious, and cross-national network. This is the long-awaited dream of humankind. Peace is the dream of mankind and everyone has responsibility. Peace is not only without war, but it also means eliminating problems such as hunger, refugees, pollution, and discrimination, thus creating a harmonious global environment: “The goods of the earth belong to all; Development of the third world is essential to peace (Pope Paul VI).” Such a goal of peace is the greatest and most challenging project in human society.
Unfortunately, at present human life on Earth is dominated by international political conflicts or economic conflicts implied. The quality of our lives depends to a large extent on the resolution of these conflicts. The essence of politics is conflict. There is always a conflict. We need to achieve political balance through political action. But the destiny of the future earth can no longer rely on the dominance of political or economic power, but it needs a moderate and effective global management. The future of human society is focused on management rather than politics. On this basis, politics must be an administrative service that addresses commonality, globalism, and federalization, and it can only serve as an internal policy. Young people in the world have actually joined together, not only because of the same fashion and taste, but also because of the same political alienation and cultural orientation.
Faced with the problems of violence and war, a culture of peace needs to be created in the long term. The sun revolves around the earth, no right to vote for women, etc. were once human inventions. War is the same. Humankind always replaces past inventions with new inventions more in line with development. War is also an invention of mankind’s past. If people are desperate for this habit of war, then it should be replaced by a new invention. Therefore, we should replace violence with non-violence and replace culture of violence with a culture of peace. Violence, especially war, is beginning to become an outdated thing. We already have enough wisdom to find other ways to resolve conflicts. This also requires a new understanding of the self: “Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a sand in it;” “Love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat (Chief Seathl).” In a globalized, networked world, we can and must create sustainable needs for peace.
What is peace? Johan Galtung, a pioneer of peace education research, believes that peace has two meanings. One is in the negative sense, that is, there is no war and violence. The other is in the positive sense, meaning not only that there is no war and violence, but social systems and structures are also just, so the root causes of war and violence are also eliminated (Galtung 12). Peace in the negative sense is not peace in the true sense, because the state of peace may be due to the deterrence of military forces to maintain a superficial peace. Positive peace is the peace that safeguards social justice. Peace was achieved by respecting people’s dignity, equal rights, and safeguarding people’s righteous demands. Meanwhile, “Society cannot tolerate an ethic that uses violence to make a point, settle grievances, or help us get what we want (US Catholic Bishops).” In this state of peace, there are no hidden hatreds and resentments. The social system also has a good way to resolve contradictions.
The question thus becomes how to achieve such an ideal state of positive peace, leading to the solution of peace education. Firstly, the society must make sure that people get equal opportunity to education, which is the most valuable asset: “Seeking to ensure that all persons, particularly the poor and oppressed, receive what is due them (The Catholic Worker).” The general purpose of peace education is to develop a truly global conscience that allows people to act as citizens of the world and change existing social structures and modes of thinking that cause wars and conflicts. In spite of the diversity of peace education, its main goal is to be consistent: to reduce or eliminate the series of illnesses in human society: from injustice, inequality, prejudice, intolerance to the abuse of human rights, destruction of the environment, violent conflict, and War. The goal is to create a beautiful society of justice, equality, tolerance, and protection of nature. The core part of peace education is education for preventing war and preventing violence. It can be further extended to human rights, ecology, multi-culture, and religious tolerance education.