Truth, Justice and Peace


Rohit Dhankar

(TISS-Bumbai University Webinar lecture was delivered on the basis of this text. Video of the Webinar is here)

Introduction

In a course unit titled “Changing Context of Education” in current COVID 19 times most people are likely to think of impact of ICT on education; possibilities and imperatives of online education like this webinar, or online teaching that is currently going on in thousands of schools in the country. However, there are also other concerns which could count under changing context, which may be as pressing as the online education, and perhaps have greater long-term significant.

In a strife torn world where increasingly guns and bombs are seen as more persuasive than rational argumentation, peace becomes a very pressing concern indeed. Today, then, we will focus on peace education. As you are aware few readings were sent in advance.

The Readings

The six readings collectively give an idea of concept of education for peace, its content and pedagogy. And the kind of issues the concept gives rise to. I am assuming that either you have read this material or you will do so in your own time. This talk will use ideas from these readings but will neither be focused on them nor will try to explain them. However, the references from these readings and other material which are likely to throw some light on the content there in as well.

Now we can proceed to the main business of today’s talk.

Peace

Peace becomes contextually significant only because there is strife, violence, unrest, and danger of war in today’s world. In such a context it is sorely missed and people start thinking of education as a means to enhance possibility of peace and avoidance of war and strife. But actually speaking, peace is also a more or less permanent concern of humanity since the dawn of civilisation, and remains so in all contexts.

All ancient cultures and religions have peace as a central concern. We here will take examples only from three major world religions but similar examples could be found in other religions as well. Almost every Hindu pooja ends with “ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः” and one can find numerous verses in Vedas and Upanishad which pray for peace. One can find dozens of verses in Bible and Quran[1] that express similar prayers and wishes for peace. I have not checked in Jainism and Buddhism but since both these religions place very high value on non-violence, it is safe to assume that one can find many discourses, prayers and wishes for peace in their scriptures too.

There is nothing surprising in all this, as peace is a necessary condition for flourishing as well as enjoying human life. But there is an interesting thing in the first three religions mentioned above. With prayers and wishes for peace, there are also prayers and wishes for complete annihilation or destruction of the enemy. That enemy is mostly another tribe or country or nation; but also, the people in the same tribe or country who do not accept the dominant religious dogma or opposing the social order lauded in the scriptures.

That means that though the peace is desired, but it is also assumed that peace and well-being of all is possible only if the view of life and social order preferred in the scriptures prevails. The very rejection of the chosen view in the scriptures is declared breach of peace, and often even evil.

That brings us to one significant difference between the idea of peace as desired in most—not all—scriptures of the three religions mentioned above, and the idea of peace we aspire for today. Today we aspire for an inclusive peace. Where all imaginations of good life, values, socio-political order are in conversation and collectively evolve a vision that is acceptable to all. This is very difficult, though. We will talk about it presently.

But what is peace?

The literature on Education for Peace talks of peace at three levels: 1. Individual, 2. Social within a nation/country, and 3. International between nation-states. Peace at individual level is especially important for Education, as all change in the social and world order that is supposed to be affected by education can happen only though individuals. Education can impact only the behaviour and thinking of an individual, changes, if at all, in the social and world order are brought about by functioning of these changed individuals. Thus, education has no direct handle on social and world order be that cultural, political or economic. Position paper on Education for Peace claims “[P]eace begins with the individual and spreads to the family, to the community, to the nation, and to the global village”[2]. NCF 2005 notes “Non-violent conflict resolution skills could be nurtured and applied constructively to disputes among individuals, groups and nations”[3]. The UNESCO 2014 document notes “By educating an individual we attempt to give him some desirable knowledge, understanding, skills, interests, attitudes and critical “thinking”. … As an individual in the society, he has to think critically about various issues in life and take decisions about them being free from bias and prejudices, superstitions and blind beliefs”[4]. Further “For people associated with education, “global awareness and international understanding should mean bringing together young people across the globe in programmes that would encourage them to believe – that other people, with their differences, may also be right”[5]. These statements and many more like these indicate development of certain qualities of character, knowledge base and capabilities which will help the individual himself being at peace, enhance chances of peace in the society and at the global level though understanding and sensitivity.

What the position paper on Education for Peace mean by peace at the individual level is “Peace of mind, or the psycho-spiritual dimension of peace”[6].

I wonder what exact meaning of the spiritual is, therefore, will look for the possible capabilities and qualities in common sense terms which may help one being at peace with himself.

At the individual level perhaps, peace may be taken as “absence of mental stress or anxiety”. Elsewhere[7] I argued that a temperament free from stress and anxiety would require harmony between one’s intellectual thought process, values, capabilities and aspirations; coupled with a good-will for people. Such a person is likely to be reasonably self-confident without being conceited. If one looks at these qualities it is immediately clear that self-awareness and critical examination of one’s judgment, values, aspirations and actions in the light of good-will for others may help develop such a disposition.

Internal harmony and peace seem to have two dimensions, that of, one, disposition, and two, knowledge and capabilities. Dispositions in education can be developed only through reflection and knowledge. That is why understanding of human rights, citizenship rights of others, cultural differences, state of social justice in the society, and environmental issues are important in Education for Peace.

And here the Peace Education faces a problem of definition: the intellectual capabilities, values, knowledge base and dispositions that are enlisted under peace education become more or less identical with the aims and content of education in general, as Page writes “However, at the same time, one problem is that peace education can be seen as encompassing all educational endeavor so that peace education merely becomes a synonym for education”[8]. Being a peaceful and peace-loving critical citizen is an important aim of education in any case. Mudaliar Commission, while discussion aims of education states “[N]o education is worth the name which does not inculcate the qualities necessary for living graciously, harmoniously and efficiently with one’s fellow men”[9]. So, what is new or additional in peace education? Perhaps the answer could be that the difference is mainly of emphasis and pedagogy.

But then, does it require a separate tag of Education for Peace? Or should be consider an important aim of education only? I would suggest that the tags like “Education for X” (where X could be Peace, Environment, Development, or any other concern) are given mainly for three reasons: 1. Pragmatic reason to draw attention to a going concern, 2. To emphasise, add or modify some curricular content, and 3. To indicate pedagogical changes. The changes in aims, curriculum and pedagogy may not be enough to conceptually define a new variety of education. But the pragmatic need of the hour may justify a tag, that seems to be the case with Education for Peace here.

That brings us to the second level at which we need to think of peace. That is, peace at the level of society. Negative peace at the level of society can be defined as absence of strife, disputes and violent protests. But that can become possible even by brainwashing people into the belief systems of the powerful and by suppressing deviant opinion by force. Prevalence of caste system in Indian society for centuries can be a near example of this. Subjugation of women throughout the world is another one.

In such a situation “peace may be regarded as the denial of the right of the vanquished to reclaim what was unjustly taken from them. A peace ideology discourages remedying or preventing injustices”[10]. That is why “the demands of justice must take precedence over the claims of peace[11].

The positive peace in society requires harmony, cooperation, tolerance and adjustments. In a diverse society like India, multiplicity of visions of good life, values and group interests will always give cause for disputes and conflicts which may develop into strife and violent clashes. Peace in such a situation would require arriving at principles and values which are more abstract and generalisable than one’s own, which are capable of adjudicating between rival values and principles. And can also accommodate the essential aspects of the group values and principles. We find such principles in the democratic ideals of worth of individual, dignity of human being, equality, freedom and justice.

Since my main point in todays talk is value of truth in social peace, I will indicate only those points in understanding justice which establish necessity of truth, the discussion on justice here will be rather truncated.

Without going into details it could be plausibly argued that a just socio-political order necessarily grants (i) equal opportunity to develop one’s reason, and (ii) rational autonomy to form one’s judgment to each citizen.[12] If some people are not allowed to, or denied opportunities to develop their rational capability and use those capabilities in forming their opinion, such a socio-political order cannot be called just in a democracy. Also, any action that deliberately hinders people’s development of reason and forming informed opinion has to be counted as hindering justice and being opposed to peace.

Therefore, lasting and just peace has to be achieved only through freely formed rational opinion of citizens on all issues of controversy and strife. Two necessary, however not sufficient, conditions of being able to form rational opinion are, having knowledge and capability for rational deliberation.

Capability for rational deliberation is more than logic alone, it involves moral and emotional commitment to truth and consistency. As Scheffler notes “[R]eason stands always in contrast with inconsistency and with expediency, in the judgment of particular issues”[13]. Reason treats evidence fairly without bias, in the interest of truth.

The second necessary condition for forming one’s own rational opinion is availability of knowledge. Often knowledge is confused with belief. Whatever one believes is deemed as his knowledge. However, knowledge is more than just the psychological process of forming beliefs. It necessarily requires epistemic criteria of justification and truth. Justification is having evidence and arguments that support the belief in question and cognitively convince one to consider it to be true.

In spite of truth being a very problematic and controversial concept in epistemology, no concept of knowledge can do without it. Scheffler has argued at length that truth can survive acceptance of fallibility and loss of certainty in empirical matters, he concludes his discussion on truth as a condition of knowledge by stating that “even if we totally reject certainty as a condition of knowledge, we need not also reject (absolute) truth. To attribute knowledge that Q[14], is not only to attribute belief that Q but also to affirm that Q—in effect, to affirm that “Q” is true, in the absolute sense of the term”[15]. Truth here survives not always as an achieved goal, but as a necessary ideal for a belief to be counted as knowledge.

I would argue that a commitment to this epistemic ideal of truth is necessary in public discourse aiming for justice and peace. But even more important for such a discourse is another related but distinguishable notion of truth, i.e. moral notion of truth. Moral truth is certainly connected with epistemic truth, but is not identical with it. Epistemic truth is concerned with judging whether a belief is correct or not, and has to meet certain standards of evidence and justification to establish it’s correctness. Moral truth is about expression or communication of the belief so formed. When one communicates a belief as one holds it, s/he is telling the truth. But when one’s communication is at variance with his/her belief, s/he is telling a lie. It is possible to have an epistemically false belief B and still tell a moral truth by communicating it as it is, i.e. by communicating the belief as one holds it.

For example, a member of Flat Earth Society may actually believe that (B) “The earth is flat”. Epistemically this may be provable as false based on available observation data. But if he (i) actually believes in this, and (ii) communicates the same to others, he is not telling a lie, as he is communicating his belief as he holds it. Though his statement that “the earth is flat” is epistemically false, but he is speaking truthfully. In such a situation we call him “wrong”, but not a “liar”. On the other hand, imagine the same person appearing for geography teacher’s interview in a school. He knows that if the interview board comes to know of his true belief about the shape of earth, he will be considered lacking in knowledge and will not get the job. When asked: “what do you believe about the shape of the earth?” He says “it is nearly spherical”. Epistemically he is correct, but is giving false information about his belief, thus is telling a lie. Moral truth is not about the correctness of the statement one makes, it is rather about the “correct communication” of what one happens to believe. Opposite of moral-truth is a lie. Intention of a liar is to deceive others into forming false beliefs, either about himself or about the state of affairs in the world. Harry Frankfurt rightly states “[I]n some accounts of lying there is no lie unless a false statement is made; in others a person may be lying even if the statement he makes is true, as long as he himself believes that the statement is false and intends by making it to deceive”[16].

In public political discourse in a democracy intellectuals, politicians and media have a responsibility to be epistemically and morally committed to truth. Deviation from truth in either sense aids injustice and disrupts peace.

As mentioned above, dignity and autonomy of individual citizens demand that a just order in society should be formed on freely formed opinion of citizens. Their agreement on the definition of common good and compromises made in their personal and group values, and interests should be arrived at of their own free will and on the basis of reasons they themselves accept cognitively.

Meeting these tough standards of rational decision making by every single individual in a society is not possible. In actual fact perhaps a majority of people do not meet the standards of knowledge and rational deliberation. However, this fact cannot be used to trample upon their dignity and autonomy. A public political discourse should aim at convincing the public with epistemically fair means, without deceit and taking recourse to lies and obfuscation. It is the job of public intellectuals, politicians and media to provide required information as well as styles of argumentation, and making sense of that information, and often actually on formed opinions. Furthermore, public political discourses, movements and agitations are a form of mass education in democratic citizenship. Dewey defines education “as the process of forming fundamental dispositions, intellectual and emotional, toward nature and fellow men”. And notes that “[P]ublic agitation, propaganda, … are effective in producing the change of disposition which a philosophy indicates as desirable, but only in the degree in which they are educative—that is to say, in the degree in which they modify mental and moral attitudes”[17].

Opinion makers (public intellectuals, politicians and media personalities) have sway over the thinking of large sections of population. When such people are epistemically careless, and disregard standards of justification and truth, they are guilty of misleading people in forming false beliefs. False beliefs are less likely to produce appropriate action to achieve the aims of justice and peace in comparison to well considered true and justified beliefs. Thus, they are harming the prospects of justice and peace in the society.

But when opinion makers deliberately tell lies or hide truth, they harm justice and peace even more. In this latter case they are guilty of manipulating people into false beliefs. Manipulation of citizens is an attack on their dignity and autonomy. It is a direct interference in their freedom of thought and expression, and in their autonomous judgment. This is deliberate corruption of their rational cognitive processes. Further, in both these cases, of epistemic laxity and moral deception, the public is being miseducated, thus harming future prospects of justice and peace in the society.

Thus, epistemic laxity and deliberate lies are inimical to truth, justice and peace.

Two more enemies of truth

In the Indian discourse today political correctness and what Harry Frankfurt calls bullshit seems to be the most pronounced enemies of truth. Both of them are much more dangerous than plain lies.

Political correctness manifests itself in two interrelated forms. One, its evolved form, is about using “language that seems intended to give the least amount of offense, especially when describing groups identified by external markers such as race, gender, culture, or sexual orientation”[18]. This form is concerned with sensitivity in civilised conversations and discourses. This may impinge on truth if taken to extremes, but is generally benign and harmless; even a demand of civility. In this article we are not talking of this form of political correctness.

The other and its original form, which is alive and kicking in all ideological discourses, is inimical to truth. This form is a gift of communist ideologues, and emerged after 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Political correctness in this form is “to judge the degree of compatibility of one’s ideas or political analyses with the official party line”[19] and publicly express only that which is most compatible. At the least in India this form is practiced by all political parties and public intellectuals supporting them. It is no more a propagation of left-wing parties alone; it is used left, right and centre, in every sense.

Political correctness in this form necessarily involves hiding, twisting, ignoring evidence and truth; and fabricating evidence, justification and lies. In addition to the above-mentioned dangers of lack of commitment to truth it also throttles freedom of expression. Not only in avoidance of speaking the truth, but also through intellectual attacks on those who express opinions against the accepted political lines. Thus, botching up debates and freedom of thinking. It is consciously directed at manipulating people into accepting the party line. Being inimical to truth political correctness in this form is inimical to peace as well.

Harry Frankfurt in “On Bullshit”[20] claims that bullshit is much more prevalent in societies than we think. He analyses the concept of bullshit, not as a term of abuse but as an expression used to communicate a standpoint in conversations. Frankfurt claims that: one, bullshitters are profoundly indifferent to truth. Two, they are not concerned with communicating information, though they may pretend to be doing so. Three, that they are fakers and phonies, as “the essence of bullshit is not that it is false but that it is phony[21]  and that what they care about primarily is whether what they say is effective in manipulating opinion.

This understanding of bullshit leads Frankfurt to the conclusion that “bullshitting constitutes a more insidious threat than lying does to the conduct of civilized life.”[22] A bullshitter is unaware of the place of truth in society and is profoundly indifferent to it; all that matters to him is manipulation of opinion to gain prominence and power.

Conclusion

If the above discussion has any merit, we can safely conclude that attacks on truth – epistemic and moral – happen in many forms. Some of them are a result of laxity in epistemic standards, deliberate obfuscation, plain lies, political correctness and bullshitting. All these forms are used to manipulate public opinion, often in the name of justice, peace and harmony. However, one, any manipulation of peoples’ opinion constitutes attack on their dignity and autonomy; rational and informed persuasion is the only legitimate way of creating consensus in a democracy. Manipulation, thus, is morally unjustifiable. Two, frequent use of devices of manipulation creates trust deficit in the society. Lack of trust in intellectuals, politicians, the state and any one in power in general makes smooth functioning very difficult and may invite the breakdown of law and order. Therefore, all such attempts decimate the democratic fabric of the society, even if often in an invisible manner. They are incapable of producing just peace, rather they add fuel to strife and keep power struggle and animosity alive.

In such a situation we would be justified in concluding that the most important requirements of peace education today, are:

  1. A commitment and capabilities to ascertain truth (epistemic as well as moral),
  2. An abhorrence and capability to spot lies, and
  3. Courage to speak the truth in the face of dangers and ridicule.

******

6th June 2020

 

 

Appendix 1

Examples of verses on peace and War in scriptures of three major world religions

 

Hinduism (from Vedas)

Almost everyone is familiar with this shanti-path from Shukl Yajurved Sanhita.

ॐ द्यौ: शान्तिरन्तरिक्षँ शान्ति:,
पृथ्वी शान्तिराप: शान्तिरोषधय: शान्ति: ।
वनस्पतय: शान्तिर्विश्वे देवा: शान्तिर्ब्रह्म शान्ति:,
सर्वँ शान्ति:, शान्तिरेव शान्ति:, सा मा शान्तिरेधि ॥
ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति: ॥ (शुक्ल यजुर्वेद संहिता 1.36.17)

Griffith translates “शान्ति” as “alleviation”, which means “the feeling that comes when something burdensome is removed or reduced”. His translation though clearly underlines peace in the whole universe but sounds somewhat broken. “Sky alleviation, Air alleviation, Earth alleviation, Plants alleviation, Trees alleviation, All-Gods alleviation, Brahma alleviation, Universe alleviation, just Alleviation alleviation-may that alleviation come to me!”[23]

Satvalekar’s Hindi translation makes better sense[24]:

The meaning of “द्युलोक” and “अन्तरिक्षलोक” seems to be the same, but “द्युलोक” is also translated as “स्वर्ग”.

The twine themes of strong wish for peace and necessary battles to achieve it are recurring themes in Rigvada in many richas. As could be gleaned from the few examples given below.

“Smashing their Vr̥tra [/obstacle], they crossed over the two world-halves and the waters and made for themselves a wide place for peaceful dwelling. The bull [=Agni], brilliant when bepoured, came to be at Kava’s side; the horse [=Agni] whinnied at the cattle-raids.”[25] (RV 1.36.08, p.143)

For Rigveda 1.66 the translators write: “The similes here alternate between images of peace and prosperity and those of turbulent combat, sometimes strikingly juxtaposed, as in the second half of verse 3 or the contrasting halves of verse 4.”[26] The verses they refer to:

“3. Delightful like a home, he maintains peace; ripe like grain, a conqueror of peoples.

  1. Having rhythm like a seer, lauded among the clans; well treated like a winning horse, he confers vitality.” (RV 1.66.3-4)

Again in 1.67: “1. A conqueror amid the wood, an ally among mortals; like a king he demands obedience without fail.

  1. Like peace that brings prosperity, like good resolve; he has become the very attentive Hotar who carries the oblations.”[27] (RV1.67.1-2)

In the same Richa 1.132, peace for us battle for them:

“3. This pleasurable offering of yours is glittering as of old, when at the sacrifice they [=sacrificers] made (you), the shield, as a peaceful dwelling for themselvesyou are the shield of truth, a peaceful dwelling. You should announce this now yet again. They [=poets?] look within (themselves?) with the (coming of) the (sun’s) rays [=dawn]. This Indra is certainly known as a seeker of cowsas a seeker of cows for those who dwell among their kindred.

  1. You two, Indra and Mountain [=mace], who fight in the frontwhoever would give battle to us, smash that very one awaywith a mace smash that very one. (Under these circumstances, even) an abyss will be pleasing to (that one,) who has fled into the distancean abyss he will seek to reach. O champion, (surround) our rivals all around on all sideslet the splitter split (them) on all sides. (RV 1.132.3 & 6)[28]

Commenting on RV 7.82 the translators note: “Indra represents the king ruling during times of migration and conflict; Varuna represents the king ruling during times of settlement, ideally times of peace. In the political structure of the Vedic period, different men may have been kings during these two times or, as we believe more likely, the same king may have exercised these complementary functions at different times of the year.”[29]

Islam (from the Quran)

The very greeting between to individuals in Islam is “As-salamu alaykum” which means “Peace be upon you”, and typically elicits a response “wa ʿalaykumu s-salām” meaning “And peace be upon you, too”. However, while the Quran constantly talks of peace among the believers its more fervently talks of cruelty, scourge, annihilation of the various kinds of non-believers. So, there is again yearning for peace as well as desire for uniformity in faith, and thus struggle, battels, war. I will give only a few example here.

“248. And their Prophet (Samuel) said to them: Verily! The sign of His kingdom is that there shall come to you At Tabut (a wooden box), wherein is Sakinah (peace and reassurance) from your Lord and a remnant of that which Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron) left behind, carried by the angels. Verily, in this is a sign for you if you are indeed believers.

  1. Then when Talut (Saul) set out with the army, ….
  2. And when they advanced to meet Jalut (Goliath) and his forces, they invoked: “Our Lord! Pour forth on us patience, and set firm our feet and make us victorious over the disbelieving people.”
  3. So they routed them by Allah’s Leave and Dawud (David) killed Jalut (Goliath), and Allah gave him [Dawud (David)] the kingdom [after the death of Talut (Saul) and Samuel] and AI-Hikmah (Prophethood), and taught him of that which He willed. And if Allah did not check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief. But Allah is full of bounty to the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).”[30] (Quran, Surah 2:248-251)

“89. They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.

  1. Except those who join a group, between you and whom there is a treaty ( of peace), or those who approach you with their breasts restraining from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. Had Allah willed, indeed He would have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they withdraw from you, and fight not against you, and offer you peace, then Allah has opened no way for you against them.
  2. You will find others that wish to have security from you and security from their people. Every time they are sent back to temptation, they yield thereto. If they withdraw not from you, nor offer you peace, nor restrain their hands, take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you find them. In their case, We have provided you with a clear warrant against them.”[31] (Quran 4:89-91) p.124.

One can find umpteen number of verses of this nature in the Quran.

Christianity (from Bible)

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.[32] (vol3, p.7)

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (Vol3, p.203

James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (Vol3, p.137)

One can multiply such verses of peace in Bible. When one reads it continuously then one notices that it says a lot on love and peace. (I found these verses and many more on the Internet and then checked with the referred to authentic edition of the Bible.) However, there are also verses of war and strife in it, and when one reads it does give a strong impression of making everyone believe in the Christ.

Christ values faith in him more than harmony with one’s family: Mathew 10 “32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Vol3, p.15)

Chapter 31 of the Book of Numbers starts thus: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. 3 And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian. 4 Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war. 5 So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. 6 And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. 7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. 8 And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword. 9 And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods. 10 And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire. 11 And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.” (Vol1, p.206-7)

The rest of the chapter is devoted to Moses’s order to kill all males, even the children, and to “kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him”. And then division of the war booty.

“And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.” (Samuel 15:18, Vol1, p.249)

A few clarifications:

  1. All I am trying to say is that in the scriptures of these three religions there is a wish and hankering after the peace, as well as exhortations, commands and prayers for war.
  2. In an exceedingly polite discourse on religions one often hears that no religion teaches conflict and war (मजहब नहीं सिखाता आपस में बैर रखना). A common sense and impartial reading of their scriptures does not support this claim.
  3. The next argument in the polite discourse on religion is that they all say the same thing, that they are equal in their teachings in terms of justice, equality, peace, strife and war. This is not the topic of this note, and my collecting some verses from their scriptures is not to prove that. They actually do not say the same thing on these issues. Their reasons, intensity, commands to wage war and frequency are very different from each other. But as I said this is not the issue here.

******

 

[1] For references of verses from the Vedas, the Quran and the Bible, please see the Appendix 1 at the end of this article.

[2] NCERT, Position Paper, National Focus Group on Education for Peace, 2006, p.5

[3] NCERT, National Curriculum Framework 2005, 2005, p.57

[4] Qutub Khan, Role of Education in Promoting Peace, Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship, in Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, UNESCO, 2014, p.12

[5] ibid, p.12

[6] NCERT, Position Paper, National Focus Group on Education for Peace, 2006, p.5

[7] https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/educational-development-another-brick-in-the-wall/article7170961.ece

[8] J. Page, Peace Education, in International Encyclopedia of Education, Third Edition (2010), Academic Press, (Electronic Edition) p. 1:850

[9] GoI, Ministry of Education, Report of the Secondary Education Commission (1952-53), Page 25.

[10] Louis Goldman, Peace Education: Issues and Perspectives, in Educational Theory, 1986 Vol. 36, No. 2, p.167-8

[11] NCERT, National Focus Group Position Paper on Education for Peace, page 4

[12] In addition, a just social order also entails fair distribution of liberties and material and social goods. Here need not go into those details.

[13] I. Scheffler, Reason and Teaching, Routledge, Oxon, 2014(1973), p.76

[14] Q being the asserted proposition.

[15] Israel Scheffler, Conditions of Knowledge: An introduction to epistemology and education, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, (1965), page 53.

[16] Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, Princeton, (2005), page 8

[17] John Dewey, Democracy and Education, Aakar Books, Delhi, 2004 (1915), page 354

[18] https://www.britannica.com/topic/political-correctness 2020.

[19] Pierre L. van den Berghe, Political Correctness, in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd edition, Macmillan Reference USA, 2008, Volume 6, page 298.

[20] Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2005

[21] Ibid, page 47.

[22] Frankfurt, Harry G. On Truth (pp. 4-5). Random House. Kindle Edition

[23] Ralf T.H. Griffith (Translator), The Texts of White Yajurveda, E. J. Lazarus & Co., Benares, 1899, page 292

[24] Shripad Damodar Satvalekar (Translator), यजुर्वेद का सुबोध भाष्य, स्वाध्याय मण्डल, परडी, page 588

[25] S. W. Jamison and J. P. Brereton, The Rigveda, Oxford University Press, New York, (2014), p.143

[26] Ibid, p.188

[27] ibid, p.189

[28] Ibid, p. 302.

[29] ibid, p.983-4.

[30] M. T. Al-Hilali and M. M. Khan (Translators), The Noble Qur’an, King Fahd Complex for the Printing of Holy Qur’an, Madinah, p. 54-56.

[31] ibid, p.124

[32] The Bible, Authorized King James Version, Oxford University Press, 2008 (1997) (All references to The Bible are from this edition)

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