Peace (n.)(i.) - Can't we all just get along!
Freedom from disturbance, threat, or violence in mental, personal or national life.
Farewell, or goodbye. Sometimes combined with “out” to form Peace Out.
History & Etymology
The word peace entered into the english language from the Anglo-Norman Pes(pronounced peace) during the norman conquest of england in the 11th century.
The word seems to have originally entered the language as a greeting. Peace was used to translate the hebrew greeting shalom which means peace. Eventually it moved away from use as a greeting and completely replaced the word “frith” the original middle-english word for peace.
In the late 1960s and 70s the word peace returned to common use as farewell greeting, similar to it’s original use as a translation of Shalom.
And in 1988 the Oxford English Dictionary records the combination of Peace Out as a farewell in the lyrics of “the 3 minute rule” by the Beastie Boys.
This formation of Peace Out likely comes from the usage from the 60s combined with a technological addition reminiscent of Over and Out in use by radio operators.
I’ve been having trouble coming up with a really good commentary for what the word peace mean and how it should be used. After some thought and looking through other definition and discussions. I realized something very important about peace.
Peace is generally a word for an external state of being among people. It doesn’t include thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. This means that peace can be achieved even while hate, fear and disgust still abound.
You don’t have to like someone to live peacefully with someone else. In fact you could hate someone and still live with them. I’ve got a clip from a lecture by my favorite economist Walter Williams where he describes who this can come about.
But if self interest and greed can bring about a peaceful situation, as in that example, that means that peace doesn’t necessarily come from understanding and acceptance. I think a lot of times when people use the word peace they conflate it with the saying ‘peace and harmony’. Some people seem to believe we can’t live peacefully unless we all hold the same beliefs and values. I think we need to change this usage.
Peace is achievable but we can’t do it by changing the minds of others. The moment we try and impose our values, by threat or force, we are no longer being peaceful and we’ve become part of the problem. We don’t have to accept people to live peacefully with people.
The same holds true for international relations. We’re at peace with the countries we do a lot of trade with, European countries, China, and Japan, but the countries we try and bring our values to, the countries we try and impose western democracy on, are the countries we’re stuck fighting in. We have spoiled any chance of peace in these places while we’re still trying to help them.
The more we spend time improving ourselves and the less time we spend trying to improve others without their permission the more peaceful this world will become.