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How do you Define 'Peace'? (Maps & Models for a More Beautiful World)

"Nothing is more precious than peace.

Peace is the most basic starting point for the advancement of humankind."

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Peace is the central focus of my life. Many years ago, following my desire to deepen my definition and understanding of peace, I decided I wanted to map out how others defined and categorized this topic. I have never defined peace as solely the absence of war and violence, although that is a part of it. Dedicating my life to something that was defined as the lack of something just wouldn’t have been alluring enough for me. No, peace to me, is everything beautiful I long to see in the world. It is inner harmony and radiant aliveness. It is embodying the change we wish to see. It is harmonious thriving relationships, families, communities, and cultures. It is a symbiotic relationship between humanity and the natural world (of which we are a part) that supports the flourishing of ecosystems and the creatures with whom we share this gorgeous planet. It is the presence of a world that truly works for all. To me, peace is everything I long for, everything that I believe the human species is capable of, everything that supports a thriving, just, sustainable, regenerative world for all.

Nearly a decade ago, as I was seeking to refine what peace meant to me, I pinned up a giant piece of paper that covered almost half my wall and started to list and draw out the maps, models, categories, and different elements of this more beautiful world that other organizations had created. Even though I created that wall diagram all those years ago, having moved many times since then, I’ve still kept it crinkled up in my belongings. The other day I came across it and thought I'd write up some of it for others to see. So here are a few of the lists from that early exploration. This isn’t a formal taxonomy, but rather a collection of different organizations’ categories, lists, maps, and symbols for creating a world of peace. If any of them spark your interest, please follow the links. There are so many great resources here! And if you have more that you'd like to add, please share in the comments or message me.


"It is possible to live in peace." - Mahatma Gandhi


The Earth Charter defines peace as: “the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part” (The Earth Charter, 2000). The National Peace Academy uses the above definition because, they say, "this definition invites learners to deeply inquire into the nature of 'right relationships' by asking: what are the values, principles and ethics that inform and sustain right relationships, and how and by whom are they determined?" (source). The National Peace Academy goes deeper into this definition by describing five interrelated and interdependent spheres of peace and right relationships. These spheres are:

  1. Personal

  2. Social

  3. Political

  4. Institutional

  5. Ecological

To read the full descriptions of each sphere and learn more about the National Peace Academy, you can click here. In a similar vein, the Newark Peace Summit organized their summit into these categories:

  • Peace within

  • Peace in home

  • Peace in education

  • Peace in community

  • Peace in world

  • Peace with the planet


"Peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.”

~ The Earth Charter


The Global Peace Index has outlined 8 Pillars of Peace that act as a "conceptual framework for understanding and describing the factors that create peaceful societies" (source). These Pillars are:

  1. Well functioning government

  2. Sound business

  3. Equitable distribution of resources

  4. Accept rights of others

  5. Good relationship with neighbors

  6. Free flow of information

  7. High level of human capital

  8. Low levels of corruption

PeaceJam is an incredible organization that connects youth with Nobel Peace Prize winners and creates massive change in the world. I participated in PeaceJam while in high school and was fortunate enough to attend their events, meeting multiple Nobel Laureates. Years later I was delighted to have the opportunity to present and lead workshops at their Rocky Mountain PeaceJam Slams. More recently, they have launched a beautiful initiative called 1 Billion Acts of Peace. You can learn more about 1 Billion Acts of Peace and add to the 51,239,184 acts of peace that have already been created as of the publishing of this article on August 1, 2018. Their focus areas for 1 Billion Acts of Peace are:

  1. Education and Community Development

  2. Protecting the Environment

  3. Alleviating Extreme Poverty

  4. Global Health and Wellness

  5. Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

  6. Human Rights for All

  7. Ending Racism and Hate

  8. Advancing Women and Children

  9. Clean Water for Everyone

  10. Conflict Resolution

Of course there are also the UN Sustainable Development Goals that you can read all about here.


"Peace may sound simple - one beautiful word - but it requires everything we have, every quality, every strength, every dream, every high ideal." - Yehudi Menuhin



"Peace is the beauty of life. It is sunshine. It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family. It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth." ~ Menachem Begin


Pathways to Peace created The Peace Wheel that consists of eight sectors or pathways that symbolize different ways people can build peace. You can learn more about each pathway here. The pathways are:

  1. Governance/Law/Security

  2. Education/Media

  3. Economics/ Business

  4. Health / Relationships

  5. Science / Technology

  6. Religion / Spiritual Teachings

  7. Environment / Habitat

  8. Culture

The Metta Center for Nonviolence has a wonderful Roadmap to Peace that I highly recommend everyone check out. As they say on their website, "the Roadmap is a way of making the movements of movements visible." "Integral to Roadmap is a 'peace from within' empowerment model based on Gandhi’s famous concept of svadeshi, or ‘localism:’ we work on ourselves, work with colleagues, and then use that energy to work against oppressing systems (but not the persons operating them!)." Please check out their website for a deeper exploration and ways that you can work with this Roadmap to help create a world of peace and nonviolence.

Barbara Marx Hubbard, the visionary futurist, author, speaker, teacher, and a beloved friend, created The Wheel of Co-Creation to describe different sectors of society and explain how innovations in each sector are getting us closer to the birthing of a new humanity. You can find examples of early solutions in each sector here (written in 2012) and more on Barbara at her website here.

Barbara has created a process and set of practices around the Wheel of Co-Creation. She describes it as such: "when the Wheel of Co-creation is fully activated, we will see the new world that is already arising in our midst. It will offer us a coherent picture of humanity as well as our whole planetary system as a living organism. It will tell us where the problems are, who is working to solve them, and where we can find the needed innovations – all organic elements of a living, holistic system of relationships. It will provide the 'new' news of who we are becoming in such a way as to continually activate our potential to participate."

The World Peace Library is a phenomenal educational resource and a great place to deepen your understanding and scope of peace (and also find a lot of inspiration and hope!). Since 2010, The Shift Network has hosted an online summit called the Summer of Peace that features interviews with inspiring change makers around the world. The World Peace Library is a compilation of those interviews over all these years, and unbelievably, all 375 audio recordings are free and available to everyone!

To really understand the scope of their vision of peace, I suggest browsing through The World Peace Library, listening to some of the talks and reading the intro page. At a high level, they break down their talks into the following categories:

  • Emerging Peace Story

  • Inner Peace

  • Family and Inter-Personal Peacebuilding

  • Community Peacebuilding

  • International Peacebuilding and Global Citizenship

  • Planetary Peace

Each of these categories then has many sub-categories that you can browse through here. I cannot recommend this resource enough! They also have an upcoming summit called Finding Common Ground, that you can register for here that takes place August 7-9th (and it's free!).

Along with the Summer of Peace, The Shift Network also has an online certification program that takes you much deeper called The Peace Ambassador Training (in which I am certified). You can learn more about it here. As part of their program, they have different pillars of peace, as seen below:

Pillar 1: Mindfulness, Inner Peace, and Resilience

Pillar 2: The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence A Path to Personal, Social & Global Coherence

Pillar 3: Inner Peace & Consciousness The Foundation for All Peace

Pillar 4: How Mindfulness Can Transform Racial & Other Forms of Bias

Pillar 5: Radical Forgiveness

Pillar 6: Compassion, Inner Peace & Common Humanity

Pillar 7: Nonviolent Communication An Interpersonal & International Approach to Peace

Pillar 8: Completely Connected


"Sanskrit has 108 words for Love. Islam has 99 names for God. Japanese has 14 words for Beauty. We’ve got one word for Peace. We don’t have enough words to accurately describe all the different types of peace. I think it was Socrates who once said, 'If you don’t have a word to describe something, then how can you think about it?'” ~ Steve Killelea


In conclusion, although these are just a small number of the attempts to categorize types of peace, describe pathways to peace, articulate the pillars necessary for peace, and design roadmaps to help us get there, much of this article points to the fact that we just don't have enough words to articulate all the different types of peace.

It is my hope that this article stimulates your thinking and gets you excited to learn more about these great organizations and ways that you can get involved. Please feel free to share your models, definitions, or maps of peace as well!

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