Peace is not a fallback position that exists in the quiet absence of conflict. Neither is it part of an "either-or" equation—"either we are at war or we are at peace." Rather, peace is a natural backdrop to existence, a dynamic and demanding way of living, and a way of building a future on the enduring foundations of trust, respect, cooperation, and the recognition of life’s intrinsic value.
As resources of the Earth become depleted, and countries and regions struggle over rights to food, water, and energy, conflicts will become more pressing and complex, underscoring the importance of practicing peace now. A first step is to understand that peace is a power within ourselves and the world that is activated and lived when we free ourselves from narrow defense strategies and choose instead to listen and open ourselves to the "other," discover shared interests, and invest our resources in values and practices that safe-guard all life.
Investing in Peace
Individually, nationally, and globally, we cannot prepare for peace while our resources are used to prevent or engage in war. This means our inner resources—our attention and our ingenuity—and it means outer resources such as finances and human labor.
At approximately $600 Billion dollars, the US defense budget is more than the defense budget of the rest of world combined—in 2008, the European Union budget was slightly over $300 billion; China’s was $61 billion and Russia’s $50 Billion—and military spending accounts for almost half of the entire US budget. If the money spent by the US during the Iraq war was used instead used to fund libraries, schools, health centers, and micro-lending to entrepreneurs, would that country now be closer to an enduring peace?