Steve Killelea’s new book, Peace in the Age of Chaos — The Best Solution for a Sustainable Future (Hardie Grant), is a thought-provoking look at what makes some societies so much, well, healthier. We spoke to the big thinker, philanthropist and founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) about why he created the Global Peace Index in which Iceland has held the top position for the past 12 years and the UK ranked 45th in 2019. Tuning into the virtues of those topping the leaderboard could help with the endeavour to pursue peace with a little more conviction than simply dreaming of it wistfully, Miss-World-contestant style. It’s worth a shot. In a year that’s left us pining for stability, spotlighting the places that rank highest on the Global Peace Index feels like a welcome reflection on good news.
They are free of corruption, have a functioning government, a robust economy, fair distribution of resources, free flow of information and good neighbourly relations. The hero countries also all have systems where citizens flourish due to a lack of violence and are able to reach their full potential, content to chip into their nation’s coffers by way of taxes since they trust those in charge to use the money wisely.
Killelea makes the distinction that peace and happiness aren’t always in parallel – how we interpret happiness is subjective and culturally different. From Killelea’s youth, an insatiable curiosity about what makes the world tick has fuelled his journey to open-sourcing what might help make it better.