It was twenty years ago today that the United States and Russia ceased targeting long-range nuclear missiles at each other. And yet, twenty years later, both still maintain considerable nuclear arsenals, at enormous expense, and now at least eight more countries (the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel and Iran) have nuclear weapons. What is wrong with the world?
According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organisation dedicated to shifting the world's focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress, "We are in an epoch different to any other epoch in human history. The problems we are facing are global in nature. They include climate change, ever decreasing biodiversity, full use of the fresh water on the planet, and, underpinning all these - overpopulation. Without peace we will be unable to achieve the levels of cooperation, inclusiveness and social equity required to begin solving these challenges, let alone empower the international institutions needed to regulate them."
And yet wars go on, continuously, all over the world. And their cost is enormous, not only in economic and pragmatic terms, but also, most importantly in human lives and the effects on the rest of creation.
They produce an annual Global Peace Index each year in June, and last year's makes grim reading. According to an article by Christina Smith in the latest issue of the Unitarian Peace Fellowship newsletter, "The total economic impact of containing violence is equivalent to 11% of global GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or US$ 9.46 trillion. If the world would reduce the cost of violence by 50%, it would generate enough money to repay the debt of the developing world, provide enough money for the European stability mechanism, and fund the additional amount required to fund the Millennium Development Goals."
So why, oh why, don't governments DO something about it? The 2014 Global Peace Index will be released on 18th June - let us see whether the last twelve months have made the world a more violent or a more peaceful place. And in the meantime, everyone who cares about the future of our world and its inhabitants should make their voices heard - peace is in our hands.