Peace is a deceptively simple concept. On the one hand, peace is the absence of conflict. Absence of perceptible conflict does not, however, mean that no conflict is in fact present. The absence of armed battle, for example, does not mean that peace has been achieved between nations, although it might. It could be nothing more than a ceasefire in between armed struggles. Conflict does not necessarily mean that more than one party is involved. An individual can experience intense internal conflict, robbing him of peace of mind.
Another complicated question. I would like to add one thought to the discussion: peace is more than the absence of war and can never be one sided. The idealists in this world (Woodrow Wilson, Neville Chamberlain) always seem to come up on the losing end of the powerful (Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin). We can give up a lot to avoid conflict, but that is not peace --- just a state without conflict. Peace can only come when equals agree to exist in a state of mutal trust, agreeing not to use each other for any purpose, but to respect their independence. This is clearly a desireable state between nations, among the members of a family, and even within the individual where balance between our own waring factions is achieved.
I really don't know what this would look like in the world because, as some of us discussed in the question about a world without crime, I don't think there will ever be a world without power. I wish I could end on a happier note, but we have a long way to go ....
I agree with the previous post in all of its points. Yet, I would like to posit one more thought on this particular issue of peace. I think I am struggling with this on some levels myself. Under what conditions is peace unacceptable with a power that is inherently evil? I had just finished responding to a similar post with Wilson's "Fourteen Points" document. After rereading the document, I wondered how Wilson would have reconciled his love of peace with the rise of Hitler and the Nazis? Certainly, peace is an end to which all must strive. However, I guess I would feel that the flip side to this coin is under what conditions is war not morally allowed, but morally demanded? If someone were to believe that evil is something to be stopped, then would such a principle require war against someone like Hitler? I know that this response does not answer anything, but given the wide opened nature of the question, it seemed appropriate to suggest.
Peace. Between people? Between nations? Within oneself? Considering the benefits of peace, it's surprising perhaps that there isn't more of it, despite the fact that most people long for it. Since most fiction explores conflict in the development of theme, literary protagonists lack peace and many seek it. Think of any novel, and at its heart will lie a character in conflict--with himself, with others, with nature, or with the external world. Some characters seek peace on multiple fronts. Their lives frequently mirror our own, and there is much to learn from their individual struggles.
Nonfiction writers also address themes of the individual in search of peace. For Emerson, peace was found within, if one renounced society's hold upon himself and remained true to himself and his own values. "Self-Reliance" promoted the peace found in rejecting mindless conformity. For Thoreau, peace was found in the beauty of the natural world and in learning its spiritual lessons. Walden expresses these ideas.
Many works of literature address peace indirectly by exploring the forces that destroy it. Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, and A Farewell to Arms are only three examples of many.
To me the most important type of peace is the peace of mind. This peace refers to absence of internal conflict within our mind. The peace of mind can exist, or can be disturbed, irrespective of conflicts and problems that exist outside. As a matter of fact, by maintaining our peace of mind in a situation of external problems, helps us to solve our problem more effectively. So very often we are advised to keep our cool in a crisis. This cool is an attempt or step towards maintaining peace of our mind.
However, this peace of mind should not be mixed up with lack of concern with what is happening outside. It is primarily lack of anxiety generated due to emotions such as desire for what we don't have and fear of losing what we have. Without such anxiety a person is able to see things in their right perspective and, therefore, act more effectively.