Essay on Peace: Need and Importance of Peace!
The issue of war and peace has always been a focal issue in all periods of history and at all levels relations among nations. The concern of the humankind for peace can be assessed by taking into account the fact that all religions, all religious scriptures and several religious ceremonies are committed to the cause of peace and all these advocate an elimination of war. The Shanti Path recited by the Hindus, the sermons of Pope and the commands of all the holy scriptures of the Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and all other communities hold out a sacred commitment to peace.
Yet the international community fully realized the supreme importance of the virtue of peace against the evil of war only after having suffered the most unfortunate and highly destructive two World Wars in the first half of the 20th century. The blood soaked shreds of humanity that lay scattered in several hundred battle grounds, particularly on the soils of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, cried for peace, peace and peace on the earth.
The UN Charter and International Peace and Security:
The human consciousness then rallied in the Charter of the United Nations to affirm. “We the people of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life time has brought untold sorrow to humankind…. and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security….. have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.”
Since 1945, the United Nations and its specialized agencies, several international associations and institutions, international peace movements, global and national level human rights movements and in fact all members of the international community have been consistently and strongly advocating the need for the preservation and promotion of peace against war.
In contemporary times, the most urgent and important international objective has been to preserve protect and defend peace against terrorism and terrorist organizations like A1 Qacda, Talibans, and other enemies of peace.
How International Community has been trying to secure peace:
Through international peace keeping under the aegis of the United Nations through the development and use of international law; creation of more international and regional institutions committed to promote peace, promotion of friendly cooperation for development among the member countries; popularization of peaceful means of conflict-resolution, institutionalization of relations among nations; integration of international community through strengthening of human consciousness in favour of peace against war; and by enhancing the ability for crisis-management, the humankind has been trying to secure peace against war.
(i) Globalization i.e. by encouraging the free flow of people goods, information services and knowledge;
(ii) Establishment of non-official people to people socio-economic-cultural relations;
(iii) Organisation of international peace movements against nuclear weapons, armament race, militarisation, and environmental pollution;
(iv) Launching of special drives for elimination of such evils as apartheid, poverty, illiteracy; ill-health, hunger, disease, inequalities, tyranny and terrorism; and
(v) organised attempts at environment protection and protection of Human Rights of all, the international community has been making meaningful attempts to limit the chances of war.
What is Peace?
One elementary way of defining peace has been to say that peace is absence of war. This is, however, a very narrow view of peace. No doubt absence of war is the first condition of peace, yet peace is not merely an absence of war. It is in reality a condition characterised by peaceful, cooperative and harmonious conduct of international relations with a view to secure all-round sustainable development of the people of the world.
Nevertheless, since absence of war is the first condition of peace, one of the major concerns of all scholars and statesmen has been to formulate and follow the principles and devices needed for securing this primary objective. The cold war that kept the world preoccupied during 1945-90, indirectly secured this objective in a negative way by developing a balance of terror in international relations.
While it was successful in preventing a global war, it failed to prevent local wars and in fact gave rise to several tensions, stresses, strains and crises in international relations. The international community had to work very hard for keeping the conflicts and wars limited. It, however, successfully exhibited a welcome and positive ability in the sphere of crisis-management.
In fact, till today there have been present several hindrances in way of securing a stable, healthy and enduring peace. Fortunately, the final end of cold war came in the last decade of the 20th century and the world found herself living is an environment characterised by a new faith and commitment to peace, peaceful co-existence, peaceful conflict-resolution, liberalisation, cooperation for development and attempts at sustainable development.
The people began focusing their attention on the need for the protection of human rights of all, protection of environment and securing of a real and meaningful international integration. However several negative factors, ethnic conflict, ethnic violence, ethnic wars, terrorism in its several dimensions, neo-colonialism, hegemony n-hegemony and the like kept on acting as big hindrances.
The need to secure peace by controlling these evils continues to be a primary aim of international community. Crises have been repeatedly coming and these are bound to keep coming. This makes it very urgent for the humankind to prepare and act for managing crises through collective efforts and by the use of several devices.
Bird watching has been popular for a long time. It goes back at least as far as the 1780 bird-listing song so popular with carolers, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Certainly only birders would count 7 swans (a-swimming), 6 geese (a-laying), 5 golden rings (evidence of historic bird-banding practices), 4 colly birds (blackbirds), 3 French hens, 2 turtle doves, and 1 partridge (in a pear tree).
Even further back, roughly in the year 0AD, odds are pretty good that at least one of the three wise men in the manger was a birder. It was exactly 1,900 years later in the United States when Frank Chapman turned a traditional Christmas Side Hunt into an event for counting birds and pooling their numbers instead of their carcasses. In so doing, he cultivated Christmas spirit towards sharing knowledge instead of consuming resources. Even more, he anticipated that the shared knowledge would be put to use towards conserving our feathery companions. The Christmas Bird Count, now run by the Audubon Society, is an iconic example of citizen science. To this day, many say “bah-humbug” to their holiday shopping list in order to make time for their species checklist.
And for many bird lovers, one annual tradition is not enough. People extend the Christmas spirit of the Audubon event by sharing their observations in other programs. These include Project FeederWatch (November through early April) run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, and the Breeding Bird Survey (summer) run by the US Geological Service’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
Several years ago, I realized that data from the Christmas Bird Count might shed light on a fundamental issue in ecology: competition between species in the wild. With enthusiastic colleagues, we analyzed trends of two very common species in Christmas Bird Counts for a research paper in the journal Ecology.
The hypothesized competitors were House Sparrows and House Finches. If you watch a bird feeder, you may even see these two common birds interact in ways that generated this initial hypothesis of competition. These two species fight for the same food.
House Finches are small, brown streaked birds, and the males, when on the right diet, have lipstick red feathers on their heads and upper bodies. They are native to the western US and were introduced to the eastern US in the 1940s. House Sparrows are native to Europe and only introduced to the US in the late 1800s. You are probably familiar with them as they hop around to eat crumbs in parking lots or under tables at any outdoor café. These are rough-and-tumble little birds that don’t just challenge birds their own size: they also can out-compete their much larger cousin, the Eastern Bluebird, in battles over nestboxes.
We confined the study to the Midwestern US, where neither House Finches nor House Sparrows were in their native range, neither holding a home-field advantage.
For ecologists, seeing two species fight doesn’t qualify as sufficient evidence for competition; we need to see a population-level response. In captivity, researchers can see when two species of fruit flies cannot coexist, but how relevant is that to how competition influences wild populations? In field studies, when similar species are able to co-exist, the differences in their niches are often interpreted as evidence of past competition. Ongoing competition is hard to show in the wild because it requires experimentally altering one population and looking for a response in the other and then vice versa to validate. Thus, only through field experiments that manipulate populations can we find reliable evidence of competition. After the introduction of House Finches to the eastern US, researchers began to make a case for competition by noting subsequent declines in House Sparrows. But the vice versa was needed to confirm.
Opportunity for this confirmation presented itself when House Finches declined dramatically in 1994-96 in the mid-western US due to the spread of a conjunctivitis eye disease. The spread of the disease was tracked through citizen science efforts in the House Finch Disease Survey, and continues to be tracked directly through Project FeederWatch. The rise and fall of House Finch populations from invasion and then disease, in areas with House Sparrows, created a natural experimental test of competition. There are few opportunities to look for evidence of competition among wild birds, especially at such large scales. We couldn’t have taken advantage of this opportunity without citizen science.
The long-term monitoring in the Christmas Bird Count revealed the vice versa: House Sparrows increased soon after House Finch declined from disease. And we found the same support from observations contributed to Project FeederWatch and the Breeding Bird Survey. This means that House Finches are the competitive winners, giving House Sparrows their come-uppance, except when other factors, like eye disease, turn the tables and decrease the House Finch populations.
Science is based on observation, as is bird watching. No wonder science and birding have been united by citizen science for over a century. Over 70,000 people participated in the Christmas Bird Count last year. I’m sure there will be even more this year. Let’s celebrate the holiday season with good will towards all birds.