PEACE AND HEALTH
At the time this issue of Advances in Nursing Science (ANS) is going to press, the president of the United States has announced in a public speech his intention to begin to end the decades of war that have plagued the world community. There is no plan, but there is strong public support from people around the world who are weary and disgusted with never-ending conflicts, particularly those that could conceivably have been prevented or resolved in a much less destructive manner. But many still harbor a desire for dominance, and the complex issues surrounding many world conflicts seem utterly irresolvable. Furthermore, wars on a more local scale, even in local homes and neighborhoods, continue to rage on, creating damage, death, and destruction not only for those who engage in the fight but also for the many who innocently witness the conflict on the sidelines.
Conflict of any kind carries with it serious health consequences, but most people feel helpless in the face of conflict that “hits home”—that we experience firsthand, much less regional or worldwide conflict. Although as nurses we are fully aware of the benefits of prevention, there are few, if any, curricula that teach nurses and other health care professionals how to prevent conflict. Nursing science has not yet taken up the matter of peace as a health benefit, nor have our educational programs begun to integrate knowledge of approaches to nurture the kind of wellness that might come from the prevention of conflict. In fact, nursing educational settings and nursing practice settings are all too often saturated with conflicts large and small that few people dare to address, much less challenge, and even less often attempt to resolve.
It is in this context that we are publishing an issue focused on “Peace and Health.” For many, “peace” is still perceived as the absence of war, but as many nurses know firsthand, the mere absence of war is necessary but not nearly sufficient. If we are to achieve the goals of high-level wellness and health for all, understanding and creating peace are an absolute necessity. I believe that there is hope for each person to learn to create real peace* and, by doing so, begin to build a family-wide, community-wide, nationwide, and even worldwide possibility for peace. We need world leaders and local leaders who are courageous enough to work toward peace, but in the end, it is up to each person to also make this commitment. The articles in this issue of ANS stand as a signal that within the larger nursing community, this potential does exist. I hope that as a reader you will begin to join these authors, and many others in the nursing community, to build a science, and a practice, that focuses on peace!
—Peggy L. Chinn, PhD, RN, FAAN
*For a summary of ways that this can happen, see the “Peace & Power” Web site and blog page titled “A Dozen and One Things You Can Do to Create World Peace.” http://peaceandpowerblog.wordpress.com/about/a-dozen-and-one-things-you-can-do.