After a long day at work, many of us have the privilege to go home, take a hot shower, cook dinner, and sleep in a warm bed. For those of us who live a life of relative comfort and have our basic needs met, it can be hard to imagine what life would be like if we weren’t so lucky. What would the day look like without these basic things?
We might sleep outside on the street, hungry or even sick. Things as simple as consistent access to food and shelter are not a given for many people around the world. Without access to basic human rights, feeling at peace is unlikely to happen.
Peaceful people make up a peaceful society, and peaceful societies make up a peaceful world. Since scarcity often leads to conflict, societies that support their citizens by providing them with healthcare, education, food, and shelter, are generally more peaceful and prosperous than those who don’t.
What Is Peace?
Understanding what peace means is essential if we want to understand why it is so important — especially if peace is something we take for granted in our day-to-day lives.
At an International Day of Peace celebration organized by Peace Revolution Cameroon, participants from various countries weighed in with different definitions of peace. The word was defined in many ways, including “the respect for life and fellow human beings” and “freedom from disturbance.”
Peace might mean different things to different people around the globe, but it’s clear that without peaceful individuals, we cannot have a peaceful world.
Most Peaceful Countries
According to 2017 data released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, the United States ranks 114th out of 163 in a list of the world’s most peaceful countries.
“Data highlighted a declining level of trust in the U.S. government, as well as growing social problems such as income inequality, heightened racial tensions and rising homicide rates in several major American cities,” writes Megan Trimble in “The 10 Most Peaceful Countries in the World” to explain why the US ranked so low.
Which country tops the list? According to Trimble’s U.S. News article, it’s Iceland — a place where discrimination is illegal and citizens have access to universal healthcare. Iceland is widely regarded as a leader in human rights. The United States, on the other hand, demonstrates that it values capitalism over the well-being of its citizens. The success of Iceland and the problems in the U.S. clearly show that human rights are deeply linked to peace.
There are many barriers to peace in today’s world. The unrest in the United States is a great example of what happens when a country doesn’t protect the basic human rights of its citizens. In the fight for peace, protest signs are as common a sight these days as birds in the sky.
Social workers have defined 12 major challenges that need to be overcome to create a better world. These challenges include making sure that everyone has access to healthcare, helping homeless individuals find dependable and affordable housing and food, and ensuring that all people have equal opportunities to pursue education. Let’s take a closer look at these challenges:
1) Access to Healthcare
In some countries (including the United States), healthcare is a privilege, not a right. Money, location, mobility, and availability can all be barriers to receiving medical care. As the need for chronic care increases, the elderly are especially vulnerable to lack of care.
Discrimination also impacts access to healthcare. Low-income communities often have limited access to healthcare facilities. Given the racial makeup of such areas, this is often a form of discrimination in and of itself. Healthcare providers could discriminate on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, economic class, religion, individuals with pre-existing conditions, and more. In areas where there is a dearth of medical professionals, this lack of choice poses a serious problem for minorities.
2) Access to Food and Shelter
It’s hard to achieve peace of any kind when you are hungry, tired, and don’t know where you’ll sleep at night. Food deserts and lack of affordable and accessible housing options are huge barriers to health and peace worldwide.
3) Access to Education
Education is one of the best ways to improve your personal options for success. But because of money, discrimination, and availability, not everyone has access to education. Oftentimes, lack of education means lack of job opportunities. In turn, that can lead to additional struggles like financial stress and trouble affording food and housing.
Healthy bodies and minds are a part of the foundation of peace. Without them, people cannot thrive. So what do we do? To have a peaceful society, we must turn these challenges into solutions.
Positive change can take place in the very sectors that are often barriers, including classrooms, medical buildings, law offices, and social communities. Getting involved in any of these areas is a great way to help create a healthier and a more peaceful world.
This is a collaborative post supporting our Peace In Peace Out initiative.