Essay by Abhipsha Dash from India aged 15 who is a student at Father Agnel School.
Hatred, Prejudice and its Influence on Peace
It is difficult for a fifteen-year-old to establish the definition of peace. It must be hard for anyone to do so, since there has never been a concrete scope of time when there existed absolutely no conflict between anyone or any two communities in the history of mankind. I wonder, is peace simply the absence of war and strife? From what I have extrapolated, the lack of physical dispute between two parties can only be credited to the lack of mental hostility and ill will, and the presence of mutual understanding and respect.
Prejudice is often planted by society into young minds and instilled into their daily lives, so deviously, that one may not even realize it. Yes, there might be other major reasons like greed, arrogance, revenge etcetera, for men to tarnish peace; but hatred, is the prime agent of warfare, so intricately woven into civilization that it merely cannot be eliminated. Ignorance and the lack of awareness further exacerbates the problem. An example being, people of my own community, family even, and their relations with particular religions, classes and factions of society. During several conversations, I recognized the bigotry embedded in them, which when pointed out, was justified by historical conflicts and actions of distinct individuals. This, is what is called ‘implicit bias’. They cannot be completely blamed for their outlook, since it’s pre-reflective and is heavily influenced by the media and other aspects of society.
Another discrete case would be of my neighboring country, Myanmar, where the decades long ethnic and religious tension between Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslims has been worsened by social media, to name specifically, Facebook. Since the beginning of mass internet use in Myanmar, inflammatory posts against Rohingya have regularly appeared and the platform is being used as a propaganda tool. The lack of fact checking and the unmanageable spread of misinformation has amplified hostility and aggression amongst the masses. It is disheartening to see such atrocities committed upon civilians due to ignorance, hatred and our inability to perceive the faults in the society we live in. To quote Nelson Mandela, “People must learn to hate, and if they can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”
I could continue on about countless other examples like this, but that won’t help. Our goal isn’t a utopian society, because accomplishing perfection is impossible. However, a society that satisfies and pleases an individual without comprising the happiness of another is not something that is absolutely unattainable. Educating people, no matter their age is a great way to start. I believe the Dalai Lama perfectly encapsulates my view, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”
‘Long Walk to Freedom’ by Nelson Mandela