While the peace symbol started out as a nuclear disarmament symbol, the word peace originates from the Anglo-French pes, which has its romance roots from the Latin pax.
But at its infancy, the English word peace only meant reconciliation, silence, or agreement. It was a state of society, not a state of being.
The idea that peace can exist within a person only came about when it was used as a greeting. The English word peace came into the popular form of greeting as a translation of the Hebrew word shalom—a cognate of the Arabic word salaam. This is why today, we say, "Peace be with you."
Isn't it interesting, no? And a little bit ironic. That it took the three most conflicted, tenuous societies, to get us to greet each other with peace.
But the evolution of peace did not end there.
During the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the two empires engaged in a Nuclear Arms Race, where they built massive amounts of nuclear armaments under the pretense of Mutual Assured Destruction.
While no atrocities befell on their noncombatant citizens, the peace these empires enjoyed was fragile.
Citizens of these nations were appalled and called for Nuclear Disarmament. Using the semaphore signals for the letters N and D, they formed the peace symbol. This movement did not call to end a violent conflict, but it sought to demolish the path to one.
This is the turning point of how we defined peace. What was once a state of agreement, to a state of being, has come to mean the laying down of arms in exchange for open arms.
The richness of peace is long forgotten. And that is regrettable. But when carry the symbol of peace, the idea will still live on.