How Peaceful Are We?

–The Global Peace Index does what it intends to do: Make us think about peace–Most have never heard of the Global Peace Index. It is put together by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a non-profit organization with an address in New South Wales. For the last 3 years it has ranked nations along certain criteria in order to determine their levels of peace. This year New Zealand was first, Denmark and Norway tied for 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Japan was no. 7, Canada, 8. Finland and Slovenia tied for 9 and the United States was 83rd ahead of countries like Libya and Gabon. The last four in the 144 countries ranked are in that order Israel, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq as no 144. France was no. 30 and the United Kingdom 35. The panel of experts behind the index looks at criteria which are aimed at gauging levels of democracy, transparency, education and material well being. They also look at internal strife and conditions leading to internal or external problems. This year food riots in several countries affected the ranking as did the other consequences of the global economic crisis such as unemployment. Several indicators affecting security measure house pricing and pensions are also included, which could explain one of the reasons for the U.S. poor showing. But the point of course is not to engage in a contest of pride but to think through what peace entails and make us all more aware of what goes into making peace. While the index may be a news filler, an afterthought or even an interesting tidbit, it ought to be something for us to ponder.