Peace: The Summum Bonum

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I The Age of Peace P. 13 | Audio

Literally meaning the greatest good, summum bonum is an end in itself and at the same time contains all other goods. What, in practice, is the summum bonum? People have different opinions on this. Most people hold that freedom is the greatest good, but freedom cannot be so described. For the summum bonum is something the maximum use of which does not have any negative results, while the unchecked use of freedom can result in anarchy. Anarchy is something which creates unmanageable problems, and which is bound to jeopardize the success of all kinds of developments, both material and spiritual.

The truth is that the true summum bonum is peace, which is good in all situations. Whatever use we make of peace it never has any negative effects. Peace brings normalcy. That is the best thing about it, for all developments and progress can take place only in a normal situation.

There are two kinds of peace: individual peace and social peace. Another name for individual peace is peace of mind. Peace of mind is of the utmost importance for all individuals. Peace of mind is an issue of self-management and only if one is able to manage oneself, can one enjoy peace of mind. Bringing peace to society, on the other hand, is an issue of social management.

When we look at history, we find that social management, in the ideal sense, is an elusive goal. Those reformers who have worked for ideal social peace have seen their endeavours result in violence instead of leading to social peace.