Peace goes beyond the absence of conflicts


Peace is more than an absence of conflict

By: Ma. Fernanda Camacho  (Translated by Allison Párraga)

The essence of positive coexistence is to live in respect and harmony with others

According to the Oxford Dictionary, peace is a situation or state in which there is no war or conflict between two or more opposing parties. But peace goes much further, peace is respecting each other, accepting, and appreciating differences, fighting for injustices, supporting people who need it most.  Peace is not only the absence of war, but is also loving your neighbor, judging less and loving more.

The United Nations General Assembly declared May 16 as the International Day of Living in Peace. This day seeks to eradicate and raise awareness about intolerance and discrimination based on gender, language, race, color, religion, political ideology, social or economic condition, among other aspects that affect people’s lives.


  • To Andrea, a 40-year-old woman, peace is living in harmony with herself and her environment. Sleeping peacefully knowing that you are not hurting anyone else is, according to Andrea, part of this feeling.  She believes that if you are okay with yourself, you can share that reassurance with others.  Andrea says that living with respect and tolerance is also part of a peaceful coexistence.
  • Joaquín, a 13-year-old boy, thinks of peace as people getting along.  But he also believes that peace means not hurting others, even if the relationship is not a good one.
  • According to María Emilia, a 20-year-old woman, peace is a feeling of calm with ones decisions.  Peace for her is feeling calm and complete at all times, without harming anyone else.  Emilia believes that crime, corruption and disrespect are contrary to peace.


It is difficult to talk of peace when most news stories are about violence, death and conflict.  Nobody said that it would be easy to eliminate the violence spreading throughout the world.  Nevertheless, change can start with you.

Beginning with ourselves, we can help create an environment of peace where disrespect of others and inhumane behavior is unacceptable. Change can begin if we learn to be more respectful, supportive, and empathetic to the pain of others. Let us treat other people as we would like them to treat us, let us start this transformation now.

Let us imagine our home discussions not turning into “wars” of opposing opinions, be they with father, mother, children or between any individuals.  May differing ideas not descend into abusive arguing but rather become an opportunity to discover common ground, to reach consensus instead of picking an individual “winner”.

Let us imagine that opposing points of view can be discussed for the purpose of clarification, not to intensify disagreements but to reach solutions.  Perhaps they are misunderstandings or rumors and the truth can be revealed.

How much peace can be achieved by attempting to understand, to listen and to respect the ideas of others?  How much peace can we achieve by putting ourselves in another’s shoes?

Let us learn to listen and observe while we judge less.