NOBEL Prize peace winner Albert Einstein has left the immortalized words, “Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order —in short, of government.”
And Baruch Spinoza has also added: ‘‘Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, and justice.’’
In essence peace is about equity, fairplay and above all a harmony of purpose.
At national level it assumes that people with diverse interests and beliefs can co-exist on the firm understanding that the rule of law will provide each protection from intrusion by the other.
In a multiparty democracy as our own peace means that all parties espouse a commonality that emphasizes nationhood and the common good, rather than the single- minded obstinacy that has no regard for national values.
That is why it is heartening that the UPND has eschewed the notion of campaigning for the removal of President Edgar Lungu’s immunity, for alleged mishandling of national affairs.
It is not so much the absurdity of the threat but the very thought that in a modern democracy premised on public will, sections of the polity can exert energies on negative citizenship.
Good citizenship is an important precursor to good leadership and such leadership is first and foremost judged by its trustworthiness and courage to do the right thing. Those who aspire for leadership must respect the leadership. It is futile to cast aspersion at serving leaders, without any probable cause, save for the sake of undermining them.
The cardinal litmus for leadership is tolerance for and accepting differences. Nothing differentiates quality leadership than the ability to accept differences of approach in fundamental matters of governance.
The stubborn and often obdurate insistence on one way, without listening to or appreciating an alternative view shows a lack of respect for others and more importantly it betrays deceit and lack of honesty to the principle of democracy which demands diversity. It is hypocritical to proclaim adherence to the tenets of democracy while failing to respect the same process that has brought a leadership into office.
Self-control in demeanor and speech are vital attributes of leadership. It has been said that a good leader must be considerate of the feelings of other people and not to threaten or hurt others deliberately.
This requires that those aspiring for office build a culture that respects and upholds all the values of good citizenship by being open-minded and sometimes accepting that the other side may also have a valid point of view.
Democracy as a system of governance has very specific rules, including the practice of regular elections which must be adhered to failure of which renders any claim to such status hollow, invalid and at worst illusory.
An important attribute of good citizenship is not only to obey laws, practices and conventions but to do everything possible to improve the community. Instead of shouting epithets from ivory towers good citizens dirty their hands in activities that improve the lot of the ordinary people.
It is only through responsible citizenship practiced by all Zambians that peace will come to this country.
There is no doubt that for as long as sections of the society pursue insular and highly sectarian ideals that do not respect truth, honesty and hard work our country will strive in vain to develop.