Waging peace is one of the three fundamental opposites we focus on. From our point of view terrorism is a tactic of warfare based on creating fear in their enemies with no concern for the loss of “innocent” lives. It is a way of solving the problems through the unbridled use of force.
In contrast waging peace can be thought of as recognizing a problem and finding creative, life-affirming ways to solve it. As an example of the contrasting approaches, Gandhi believed that using violence to fight oppression was not only wrong, but a mistake. This is because violent responses to oppression fueled the prejudices and fears that lead to oppression. “The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree,” he wrote in 1909, “and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree. . . We reap exactly as we sow.” (Gandhi, 1962, p. 51)
Using this approach, if you want a kind world, you have to use means that are kind. If you want a world of understanding, you move towards it by using understanding, not shouting. This is why Gandhi, and latter Martin Luther King, stressed non-violent resistance in their struggles against oppression.
It may also be why in both Vietnam and Iraq the American military attempted, with limited success, to win “the hearts and minds” of the civilians in those country. As President Johnson said in a 1965 speech, “…the ultimate victory will depend upon the hearts and the minds of the people who actually live out there. By helping to bring them hope and electricity you are also striking a very important blow for the cause of freedom throughout the world.”
You and I may not be interested in winning the hearts of minds of a nation, but we could be interested in waging peace—finding creative and life-affirming solutions to difficult problems. In doing so, it might be well to recall Gandhi’s observation that, “The means are the ends in the making.”