Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Literally meaning the greatest good, summum bonum is an end in itself. What, in practice, is the summum bonum? Most people hold that freedom is the greatest good, but freedom cannot be so described. Summum bonum refers to the maximum use of something which does not have any negative results, while the unchecked use of freedom can result in anarchy. Anarchy creates unmanageable problems and is bound to jeopardize development both material and spiritual.

The truth is that the 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, and all development and progress can take place only in a normal situation.

There are two kinds of peace: individual peace and social peace. Individual peace is peace of mind, of the utmost importance for an individual. This is an issue of self-management and only one who is able to do this can enjoy peace of mind. Bringing peace to society, on the other hand, is social management.

History shows that social management, in the ideal sense, is an elusive goal. Reformers who have worked for ideal societal peace have only seen their endeavours result in violence.

The reason is that these social activists have linked social peace with social justice on the assumption that there can be no social peace without social justice. They felt they had to establish social justice, and that social peace would naturally ensue. But this is quite unnatural, and therefore not workable. According to the law of nature, the role of peace is to provide the basis for all activities, which would pave the way for justice. The basic role of peace is to establish normalcy, that being a prerequisite for success in anything. Peace has to be established at any cost.

According to the law of nature, the role of peace is to provide the basis for all activities, which would pave the way for justice.

Social peace is a bilateral issue. There being multiple groups in a society, it is a sine qua non that the terms be mutually acceptable. The best principle for peace is to maintain status quo. The practical method would be—Idealism for individual peace and pragmatism for social peace. No other concept will work.

After the second World War, both Germany and Japan tried to re-develop their countries which had been devastated by war. For this purpose a peaceful environment was necessary. But there were problems. For example, Germany had lost the eastern part of its land. This was true also of Japan, which had lost its strategic island of Okinawa. But both accepted the status quo.

The practical method of social management is—Idealism for individual peace and pragmatism for social peace.

Without attempting to change the existing state of affairs, they began to execute their plan of re-constructing their countries by using the resources within their control. Both proved to be successful and achieved a high standard of development within a short period of time.

Accept the status quo and try to achieve your goal by peaceful planning. This is the way to achieve any goal, spiritual or material. Undoubtedly peace is the summum bonum, but to establish peace, the law of nature must be followed. Peace provides the basis for performing all activities and is not the result of these activities.

Peace is like the soil. Without the soil there can be no plants . Similarly, without peace there can be no social development.

Category/Sub category

Share icon


CPS shares spiritual wisdom to connect people to their Creator to learn the art of life management and rationally find answers to questions pertaining to life and its purpose. Subscribe to our newsletters.

Stay informed - subscribe to our newsletter.
The subscriber's email address.

leafDaily Dose of Wisdom