About Peace

Johannes C. van Nieuwkerk
2 min readDec 23, 2023

One can find conflicts of interest everywhere. However, there are two ways of handling disputes. The first one is to grow apart by divergence and fight “wars” over them; the second one is to grow together by convergence and dissolve them.

Looking at the world of today, the growing-apart force is unfortunately dominating and friction rules throughout. At the same time, there are major existential threats to humanity like climate change, inequality, and forced migration, which need to be urgently addressed together. Only convergence can do so. How?

It tends to be the more radical politicians who escalate disputes and put oil on conflict fires; mobilizing their warriors to support them. There are two potential results of doing so. The first is a total defeat of one party; the second is reaching a compromise in the form of a ceasefire.

Still, a truce is not where a dispute ends, it is only the beginning of a potential peace building process. Even in the situation of a total defeat, it will be temporary and the hatred seeded in the next generation of the beaten party will almost certainly revive the conflict in decades to come. Peace is thus neither a ceasefire nor a truce.

Reconciliation and harmony are also not established by defining borders or two-state solutions. The maximum result of separation is the sustainability of a truce; the dispute itself stays alive and can reignite at any moment.

So what is the key? The majority populations at both sides of a conflict are usually moderate, suffer, and live in fear of each other. The answer is to make sure that there is (non-violent) actual interaction established on the basis of freedom and equality between the two groups of victims.

The result is that people will grow together by mutual understanding and will develop empathy for each other, leading to trust. Only this path leads to sustainable peace and to solving a conflict forever.