Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Javier Perez de Cuellar on the Relative Nature of Global Peace

January 9, 1989

Peace - the word evokes the simplest and most cherished dream of humanity. Peace is, and has always been, the ultimate human aspiration. And yet our history overwhelmingly shows that while we speak incessantly of peace, our actions tell a very different story. Human nature being what it is, peace must inevitably be a relative condition. The essence of life is struggle and competition, and to that extent perfect peace is an almost meaningless abstraction. Struggle and competition are stimulating, but when they degenerate into conflict they are usually both destructive and disruptive. The aim of political institutions like the United Nations is to draw the line between struggle and conflict and to make it possible for nations to stay on the right side of that line.

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