A personal view from Wyken Seagrave
What do we mean by the word “peace”?
I am writing this on the day when Euro 2016 has started in France and already there have been violent clashes between the English and French supporters in Marseille. Does that mean that there is no peace in Marseille? Well, certainly there was a breach of the peace. If this had happened in the UK, those arrested would have been brought before a “Justice of the Peace” (or JP). But I think most people would say that peace still reigns generally in Marseille, despite this localised violence.
Now let’s consider the wider political and social situation within France. For many weeks there have been strikes and violent clashes between strikers and the police. Many train services have been cancelled, there are widespread petrol shortages, and electricity power stations have been shut down. I think some of my French friends might claim that the civil unrest in the country amounts almost to a guerrilla war, although most would probably acknowledge that the country is not actually at war.
The opposite of “peace” is obviously “war”. War is generally taken to mean the situation in which groups of people are fighting and trying to kill each other. There are degrees of war. For example, there is a drugs war in Marseille, and drug dealers are killed on an almost weekly basis. The opposite extreme is a World War, in which groups of nations fight for their very existence. The most common form of wars today is civil war.
So if there are degrees of war there must logically be degrees of peace: complete peace, troubled peace, very little peace and no peace.