Portugal’s Culture of Peace

Source: Institute for Economics & Peace. Global Peace Index 2019

Earth is indeed a violent place. At all times, some form of unrest is either brewing or being experienced somewhere on the planet. Yet, the most sought after countries are those that have learned to inculcate peace, both in their people and policies. In light of current events in the USA and Hong Kong (the birth countries of DaHungryCouple’s founders), today we take a deeper look at the tapestry of peace woven by Portuguese of the past and present.

A quick look back into history reveals the most recent revolution in Portugal, the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974, the consequences of which eventually “introduced a new Constitution, the end of Portuguese colonialism, as well as civil liberties which had previously been banned”. The dictatorship of 40 years was wiped clean, allowing new policies to be implemented in favour of the working class. “It achieved gains like the guarantee of the right to a job, living wages (above the level of subsistence or biological reproduction alone), and equal and universal access to education, health, and social security,” thereby setting the table for the peaceful Portugal of today.

In 2019, Portugal was ranked #3 on the Institute for Economics & Peace’s annual Global Peace Index (GPI). What does that mean, actually? The GPI measures peace in three thematic domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security (e.g. fear of crime, access to healthcare); the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict (e.g homicide rates, the threat of terrorism; and the degree of Militarisation (e.g. military expenditures, nuclear capabilities).

Portugal’s scores in the following areas are as follows (please note, the closer the score is to 1.000, the higher the ranking possible):

  • Social Safety and Security: 1.413

  • Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict: 1.083

  • Militarisation: 1.282

A quick comparison between the USA, Portugal and Hong Kong*:

*Please note that the GPI 2019 Report does not differentiate Hong Kong from China, so numbers are not specific to Hong Kong itself (I don’t know why, so don’t blame me! In fact, I’d be very interested to see the differences were Hong Kong to be assessed apart from China).

Violence has an economic cost as well. In fact, the GPI Report includes a table indicating the Economic Cost of Violence as Percentage of GDP. This measurement outlines the economic losses countries experience due to violence. For the purposes of our comparison, note the following: USA (8% of GDP), Portugal (5% of GDP) & Hong Kong* (4% of GDP).

Finally, in consideration of overall peacefulness, we must pay attention to the deep importance of the effect of Positive Peace. Positive Peace is defined as “the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies. These same factors also lead to many other outcomes that societies consider beneficial. Therefore, Positive Peace describes an optimum environment for human potential to flourish.”

To that end, recent improvement in the areas of corruption, competitiveness and ease of doing business indicate that Portugal has been focusing more on facilitating the flourishing of her citizens. The recent responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have very clearly indicated as much. It’s a process, but at least it’s a peaceful process.

In most cases, achieving peace in our lives requires re-examining our internal beliefs and those of mother culture, amplifying the most peaceful, and eschewing those that do not bring peace. We firmly believe that the peaceful culture of Portugal holds the opportunity to assist those who seek to live in peace, both with themselves and with others. As is said in Portugal, O melhor momento para plantar uma árvore foi a 20 anos atrás. O segundo melhor é agora (The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.) Amen!


by @dahungryhubs

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