I grew up with a sense of peace. Not the sense of peace that I hear of today – the peace of the external environment, the peace in society and communities and so on – but a peace of the mind, of the spirit. As a natural consequence, I also grew up avoiding direct conflicts since I had an innate understanding that most day-to-day conflicts are fleeting, of material matters (even emotional conflicts are material in nature in the sense that they are conflicts between two different ways of owning something).
As I experienced more and learned more, my opinions did not change, but I felt that it was important to understand the nature of conflicts. And try as hard as I might, I could find nothing more than this: a conflict is aways about ownership. I have tried to categorise conflicts in various ways and at their core, everything is just a variation of a conflict of ownership.
But what is a conflict of ownership? It is two or more parties claiming ownership (moral, ethical, spiritual, legal right) over a territory, a territory being defined as anything under the sun – land, property, assets, mind-space, authorship, emotions, relationships, sexuality, gender, productivity, the right to feel or behave in a particular manner … anything at all. ‘Parties’ could be people, could be a group and a person, two groups, religions, governments … it’s an exercise in creating a dropdown menu.
I found that my parents wanted domain over my play times and daily habits (food, clothing, manners, etiquette); I found that teachers wanted domain over my ability to learn (handwriting, homework, tests, discipline, ability to recall in a particular manner within a particular timeframe); I found that other children wanted my tiffin box or my books or my turn at the cricket crease; I found that bus conductors, cops, government officials wanted my fear in return for their benevolence; local bullies and gangs vied for the same; girlfriends wanted domain over affection and my time; spouse desired domain over love, my time and mind-space; employers demanded ownership over all I created and my time; my children desire domain over my time and mindspace; employees expect right over how I should groom them; professors, collaborators, partners, acquaintances … every one has a sense of ownership either by way of blood, or education, or relationship, or law, or emotional tie, or community or nation and so on.
After a certain point, I realised that if I wanted peace in my surroundings, I would have to hold my ground on everything all the time, without asking others to give any ground. Else, everyone figured they could trespass; I realised that if one wants peace, one has to be ready for war at all times … which by inference means that peace is possible only if one is strong.
The real trick is to achieve Peace without then being tempted to take it further and becoming the transgressor in the guise of deterring others from breaking your Peace…