If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace. John Lennon
John Lennon was a keen observer of human nature. This quote hits on something very basic to every person, the need to obtain a tangible reward for doing the right thing.
We often talk about the grand idea of Peace, it is something that we all aspire to achieve, but there is nothing immediately gratifying about Peace unless we are in a war at the time, especially on a personal level. To everyone not involved in a conflict directly, Peace is something that is not as imperative because it does not involve an immediate change to our daily lives.
Another aspect to this quote is that we associate working towards something with a definite end point and a definite reward at that time. The TV set is something that we can save our money to get, and when the time comes we get the TV and feel a sense of accomplishment on a personal level and walk away feeling that we truly achieved something. Peace, on the other hand, requires the cooperation of everyone, it is a collective goal. The measurements are not as clearly defined as the cost of a new TV set. Therefore, the progress towards the goal is not easily discerned and cannot be accurately measured on a daily or weekly or even monthly basis. We are not sure how long we will have to work to have Peace. We have no idea what the clearly established reward will be for achieving it, unless once again, we are in the middle of a battlefield actually fighting a war at the time.
A hidden meaning of the quote is the backhanded swipe at consumerism. We are so used to buying things and equating that to a truly important universal goal that we lose our sense of society in the process. Look at the Black Friday madness every year. People do, to some small extent, actually go to war in order to get that new TV! Why? Because it is cheaper than it was the day before. We are being run through a maze by those in power who watch us part with our sanity and our money to get something for a smaller markup than at another time. Yet those who emerge from the store with that TV feel a great sense of accomplishment, at least for a while. I call this temporary satisfaction. This also emphasizes the individual over the society to an insane degree. Peace cannot be achieved solely from an individual perspective, it takes everyone working for the same thing.
Peace is not mass-produced for us. The TV sets are. Peace is something that we all have to work on together. We are the producers of Peace and NOT the consumers in the traditional sense. No one markets Peace and sells it to us, we have to construct it collectively and distribute it to everyone. The TV makers will show an immediate profit for each TV they sell, we will all benefit in other tangible ways from Peace, but not in the immediate sense that the TV maker does.
And so, the mindset that we often live under prevents us from truly working towards Peace in the first place. We need to examine ourselves first and determine that we are truly ready for Peace. Is that an insane question? Who doesn't want Peace? Then why is it so hard to achieve? As long as there are those who will profit from war and injustice and dischord, Peace will remain elusive and out of reach. It is only after we begin to see things through a different lens that the Truth becomes clear to us. Peace isn't easy, Peace is hard. Wanting Peace brings it no closer, only working towards Peace collectively will get us there. Focus on the self at the expense of our fellow human beings and society will never take us to Peace, although it will tear us to pieces if we let it.