All human endeavors must have as their point of origin a concern for people’s welfare and a desire to contribute to human happiness. Otherwise, the human race will ultimately just continue to stumble aimlessly, from darkness into darkness. If that happens, what use to us then are economics, politics and culture? Everything depends on people, on their character, the development of their humanity.
Dialogue and education for peace can help free our hearts from the impulse toward intolerance and the rejection of others. No one is born hating others. Prejudice and discriminatory attitudes are ingrained during the process of growing from childhood into adulthood. It is the younger generations who hold the key to creating peace.
Each of us, no matter how weak or ineffectual we may feel ourselves to be, must build deep within our hearts a stronghold for peace, one that will be capable of withstanding and in the end silencing the incessant calls to war. This is the only way humanity’s tragic predilection for violence can be reformed and its energies channeled in new directions.
Every war, when viewed from the undistorted perspective of life’s sanctity, is a “civil war” waged by humanity against itself.
Everyone can be engaged in education for peace. It can be as simple as taking the time to talk with the children and young people in our lives―in our homes and communities―about the dignity of life and the equality of people. We must never underestimate the impact of such seemingly small efforts.
For both victor and vanquished, war leaves only a sense of endless futility.
From a healed, peaceful heart, humility is born; from humility, a willingness to listen to others is born; from a willingness to listen to others, mutual understanding is born; and from mutual understanding, a peaceful society will be born. Nonviolence is the highest form of humility; it is supreme courage.
Human dignity does not shine in isolation. It comes to full brilliance through our efforts to cast a bridge connecting the opposing banks of self and other. . . . Actions taken to illuminate the dignity of others inevitably generate the light that reveals our own highest aspects.
If we dig deep enough within the great earth of each person’s life, we find flowing there the same underground channels of empathy and compassion. This source gives rise to an immense range of human diversity, a symphony of life, in which each of us is endowed equally with a unique role and purpose. Our struggle to return to this source is thus central to bringing about a genuine renaissance for all people.
If we picture a global society of peace and creative coexistence as an edifice, the ideals of human rights and human security are key pillars that hold it up, while the foundation on which these rest is respect for the dignity of life. If this foundation remains no more than an abstract conceptualization, the entire structure will be unstable and could collapse in the event of a severe challenge or crisis.
Just as fire is extinguished by water, hatred can only be defeated by love and compassion.
No matter what the state of society or the times, each of us can contribute to peace in our immediate environment. We can do this by encouraging even one young person and enabling them to tap into their potential.
Nothing is more precious than peace. Nothing brings more happiness. Peace is the most basic starting point for the advancement of humankind.
One person inspiring another, transcending all differences—this is the basis of changing society at the most fundamental level.
Peace is a competition between despair and hope, between disempowerment and committed persistence. To the degree that powerlessness takes root in people's consciousness, there is a greater tendency to resort to force. Powerlessness breeds violence.
Peace is not found somewhere far away. Peace is found where there is caring. Peace is found when you bring joy to your mother instead of suffering. Peace is found when you reach out and make an effort to understand and embrace someone who is different from you.
Peace is not simply a matter of living a quiet, detached or carefree life. Peace exists in action―courageously, nonviolently fighting against the injustice that makes people suffer. It is only in such action that we find peace. When the majority of people lose the will to resist injustice and become indifferent and apathetic, it may be said that society starts to tilt in the direction of war.
Peace is not simply the absence of war; it is a state in which people come together in mutual trust and live with joy, energy, and hope. This is the polar opposite of war―where people live plagued by hatred and the fear of death.
Peace is the universal wish of humankind. But where is the key to peace to be found? The American peace scholar Elise Boulding once remarked to me that peace is not only about taking action in times of danger, it is also about assisting each other in daily life, and that the family and the local community are key starting points. Peace, in other words, is not some distant dream, but a reality that starts where we are right now. Elise always made a point of getting to know her neighbors, because when people know each other, they are more likely to help and assist each other. This is where peace begins.
Since the ultimate enemy is dehumanization, the ultimate solution must be a revitalization and restoration of humanity.
Sincerity is the key to transforming distrust into trust, hostility into understanding, and hatred into compassion. Friendship and trust are indispensible to true peace, and they cannot be cultivated strategically.
The compassion that never abandons others to suffer alone; the wisdom to perceive the equality and possibilities of life; the courage to make our differences the impetus for the elevation of our humanity: I believe that the challenge of constructing a global society of peace and creative coexistence begins with the recognition that all people inherently possess these qualities. I also believe that The social mission of religion in the twenty-first century must be to encourage the flowering of these capacities. It must bring people together in an ethos of reverence for life's dignity and worth.
The human spirit is endowed with the ability to transform even the most difficult circumstances, creating value and ever richer meaning. When each person brings this limitless spiritual capacity to full flower, and when ordinary citizens unite in a commitment to positive change, a culture of peace―a century of life―will come into being.
The inherent dignity of life does not manifest in isolation. Rather, it is through our active engagement with others that their unique and irreplaceable nature becomes evident. At the same time, the determination to protect that dignity against all incursions adorns and brings forth the luster of our own lives.
The key to solving all our problems—whether it be building a secure and lasting peace, protecting our environment, or overcoming economic difficulties—is to cast off apathy and preconceived notions that lead us to view a situation as unsolvable or unavoidable. Problems caused by human beings can be solved by human beings.
The struggle for peace, like the struggle for human rights and humanity, is not one in which, having reached the peak of the mountain, the final goal comes into view. Rather, it should be thought of as the work of generating an uninterrupted and unstoppable flow of commitment connecting and passed on from one generation to the next.
The vision that we must place at the heart of contemporary society is of . . . a world more noted for the warm light of dignity than the cold gleam of wealth, a world of empathy marked by the resolute refusal to abandon those who suffer most deeply.
To help a culture of peace take root the world over, it is necessary to patiently counteract any incidence of hatred and confrontation that may arise. We are, by virtue of being human, endowed with the tools that we need for this pursuit: the tuning fork of self-reflection with which to imagine the pain of others as if it were our own; the bridge of dialogue over which to reach out to anyone, anywhere; and the shovel and hoe of friendship with which to cultivate even the most barren and desolate of wastelands.
To set out from immediate and concrete realities, creating with every step new neighbors in an expanding network of human solidarity―this is the true path to peace. Without the steady accumulation of such efforts, the ideal of a perpetual peace will remain forever out of reach.
Voices of integrity, voices filled with conviction are a powerful force for good.
War normalizes insanity―the kind that does not hesitate to annihilate human beings like so many insects, and tears all that is human and humane to shreds, that destroys nature itself.
We must build a society that has more than its short-term profit as its goal. To do that, the first step is to respect ourselves and to live with dignity, self-confidence and pride. Such people are then able to treat others with respect.
We need to awaken to a common consciousness of being all inhabitants of Earth. This consciousness is not to be found in some distant place. It will not be found on a computer screen. It lies in our hearts, in our ability to share the pain of our fellow human beings. It is the spirit that says: “As long as you are suffering, whoever you are and whatever your suffering may be, I suffer also.”
When human beings live together, conflict is inevitable. War is not. “We are in conflict” can be interpreted to mean “we share a problem.” A shared problem can best be met and resolved through shared efforts. Rather than facing off in confrontation, we should turn together to face our common future, united in a shared commitment to the flourishing of youth.