House of Peace by Susan Shie
Below are excerpts from the writings and speeches of a number of individuals who have left their mark on history. Read through each of the writings and jot down what you have learned from each one. In some cases there will be more than one lesson. After you have compiled your observations, reflect on your notes. Review them for the purpose of writing a series of steps that you and others can uphold in order to keep peace. Share your steps with others.
Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. President
One of the most basic principles for making and keeping peace within and between nations. . . is that in political, military, moral, and spiritual confrontations, there should be an honest attempt at the reconciliation of differences before resorting to combat.
Albert Einstein, Scientist and Philosopher (1879-1955)
To me the worst thing seems to be a school principally to work with methods of fear, force and artificial authority. Such treatment destroys the sound sentiments, the sincerity and the self-confidence of pupils and produces a subservient subject.
We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war. There is no task that is more important or closer to my heart.
You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.
Anne Frank, Writer of The Diary of Anne Frank (1929-1945)
It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.
Chief Yellow Hawk, Chief of the Sioux Nation
O’ Great Spirit, Whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me!
I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom. Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy—myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 1989 Nobel Peace Laureate
Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.
Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.
You can develop the right attitude toward others if you have kindness, love and respect for them, and a clear realization of the oneness of all human beings.
A truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you. Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether ones believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.
It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.
Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us.
When our community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighboring communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. And there are ways in which we can consciously work to develop feelings of love and kindness. For some of us, the most effective way to do so is through religious practice. For others it may be non-religious practices. What is important is that we each make a sincere effort to take our responsibility for each other and for the natural environment we live in seriously.
The Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1989
Mohandas K. Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi), Indian Leader and Pacifist (1869-1948)
If we wish to create a lasting peace we must begin with the children.
I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.
Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
All the great religions of the world inculcate the equality and brotherhood of mankind and the virtue of toleration.
The first step in non-violence is that we cultivate in our daily life, as between ourselves, truthfulness, humility, tolerance, and loving kindness.
Hatred is not essential for nationalism. Race hatred will kill the national spirit.
Not to believe in the possibility of permanent peace is to disbelieve in the Godliness of human nature.
Thich Nhat Hahn, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and Peace Facilitator (1926- )
And once we have the condition of peace and joy in us, we can afford to be in any situation. Even in the situation of hell, we will be able to contribute our peace and serenity. The most important thing is for each of us to have some freedom in our heart, some stability in our heart, some peace in our heart. Only then will we be able to relieve the suffering around us.
Peace is based on a respect for life, the spirit of reverence for life. Not only do we have to respect the lives of human beings, but we have to respect the lives of animals, vegetables and minerals. Rocks can be alive. A rock can be destroyed. The Earth also. The way we farm, the way we deal with our garbage, all these things are related to each other. (This portion of the selection is from Peace is Every Step.)
If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.
Every day we do things, we are things, that have to do with peace. If we are aware of our lifestyle, our way of consuming, our way of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment we are alive.
Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and to prevent war.
Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds. . . to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.
(Second Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1865)
We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
Nelson Mandela, South African Statesman and 1993 Nobel Prize for Peace Winner
As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.