Redefining War and Peace

A glowing orb reflects itself in opposition.

Yin Yang

War, armies, death, destruction, terror, horror and fear fill our news and our days. These are all very real and frightening, but I believe war deserves a broader definition, as does peace. War is not simply armed troops shooting at each other and all the specific and collateral damage from the way we wage war with bombs, ships, tank, and planes. I believe that we should define war as anything we do that is detrimental to people, human survival, Earth, our environment and to “… children and other living things.”

War is conflict, in the sense that everything we do which conflicts with our own best interests is a form of war. Literally, we are at war with ourselves, as a race, a species, and often personally. We have declared war on our very existence. Dealing only with humanity (much too narrow a scope), any time a terrorist or terrorist group strikes, they have declared war on humanity. Any time wealth is valued for its own sake and used by wealthy people, groups or corporations to control and coerce the actions of others, they have declared war on humanity. Any time lawmakers value their own power and the influence of wealthy, powerful people and groups over the health, safety and well-being of all people, they have declared war on humanity. Any time we see another person as less than ourselves or decide corporate profits are more important than the physical, mental, spiritual and financial health of every living thing and the planet, we have declared war.

Contrariwise, when we take care of ourselves so we can place the needs of others as the next most important thing we can do, we practice peace. Any time we understand and live in the knowledge that having enough is sufficient, we practice peace. Any time we give of our money, time, energy and love for the good of others and all of us, we practice peace. Any time we use diplomacy, rather than force, to resolve our differences, we practice peace. Any time we see and understand that all people are the same and worth equal consideration, despite the superficial but seemingly insurmountable differences of nationality, history, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or any label we create to name people as other, we practice peace.

We no longer play as children, where we believed that might equals right. It doesn’t, and never has. While it may leave some feeling they are kings of the world, it is worthless if the world crumbles around us. As poet and spoken word artist, Shane Koyczan, who I’ve only recently become aware of, but greatly admire, has phrased it,  “… remember how nobody ever died in the wars we fought, because each gunshot came from our fingertips and we never kept them loaded, just in case. ‘Cause each enemy was a friend and it wasn’t about oil, religion, or land. It was all just pretend… Impossible is not an option….”

It is no longer all just pretend and our thoughts and actions tell us not only who we are, what we did, but how we will end. The following link:, leads to the poem performance where I pulled the quote, which served as part of the impetus for this short piece on war and peace. I write, paint and create art inspired by what concerns me, hoping to bring beauty, humor and my vision to the world. Like it, I am still evolving, expressing my unique view of where I live, where we all live. I envision each piece I create in whatever medium as one more grain of sand closer to the tipping point which will redefine our world.


If you would like to see my art as well as being able to read my thoughts here, please check out the following sites.

Brent Harris Fine Art

Philip Brent Digital Art and Photography

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