This is a definition of Peace from cultivatingpeace.ca which is a really wonderful resource as it focuses on the education and empowerment of children. It is a definition that takes into consideration the basic human spiritual and physical survival needs which I believe are important to address in the quest for peace. Seamus, I like the point about not coming from a place of anger, especially when the journey gets frustrating and the obstacles seem impossible to overcome.
Peace is more than the absence of war. It is justice, equity and freedom from oppression, discrimination and all forms of violence. It is compassion and empathy for those we see in our communities and for those whose faces we will never see and whose voices are silenced. It is economic and environmental security. It is cultural dignity and appreciation for all of the unique manifestations of the human spirit. Because of this, the Taking Action resource includes a wide range of issues relating to this definition of peace, including sustainable development, economic disparity, fair trade, human rights and government spending priorities.
Blessings to all.
I originally wrote this for mepeace.org, an Israel-Palestine peace site, so I've left in the specific references to that conflict, but it applies anywhere:
I think inner peace (peace of mind), peace between people, and peace between countries are all basically the same.
Often when people speak of "peace," it sounds to me like they really mean seclusion. In personal terms, "Leave me alone! Can't I get any peace and quiet?" In political terms, what Israel used to call "unilateral separation."
My idea of peace? It's more clear in Hebrew. The word shalom is related to shalem, wholeness. Its opposite is machloket (conflict), which is related to chelek, division. Peace vs. conflict = wholeness vs. division
In the Talmud (gemara Nedarim, Yerushalmi), Ben Azzai puts this in terms that explicitly link the wholeness within a person with the wholeness of our relationships with others. He comments on the biblical verse (Leviticus 19) "Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am HaShem [G!d]", saying:
"How can a person take revenge or bear a grudge against another person? It is like someone who is cutting meat that he is holding in his hand: If the knife accidentally slips and he cuts his hand, would he revenge that hand by cutting the other one?"
In other words, when you see the person facing you as an image of G!d, you see a reflection of your own deepest self in them - "Love your neighbor [who is] as yourself." How, then, could you want to harm them?
To me, peace between Israel and Palestine (or, for that matter, peace within Israel or Palestine) is when we see each other in that light, and act toward each other accordingly.
Everything short of that - all the signed agreements, suppression of violence, etc. (may it come today!) - is mere tolerance of that bothersome Other who we (Jews or Arabs) wish would just leave us alone.