World Peace

It is our intent to bring out this newsletter in the Spring and the Fall of every year.  We hope to offer your educational information on what our Nobel Peace Laureates are saying about how to achieve world peace, especially in the world’s most dangerous conflict areas, where we are working.  We will also share with you the views of national and international religious leaders on how we can achieve world peace.  This newsletter will be a place where new approaches can be shared and also where new initiatives on achieve peace can be offered.


I believe that we cannot achieve a lasting peace, whether it is local or national without employing the basic spiritual values, which all the major religions promote, values such as forgiveness and compassion.  This newsletter will also relate examples of how to bring these values into a secular environment and a secular world so that neither the values are compromised nor the governmental constitution is violated.  For example our first world peace conference was focused on “how compassion could be added to the diplomatic peace seeking process” and was moderated by former US Senator Mark O. Hatfield and Rev. Mary Manin Morrissey joined by five Nobel Peace Laureates.


In short compassion is both a spiritual value and as well has a secular intent.  It can be used in the church, in the world and in the office environment or in the negotiating room.  We are allowed to practice compassion and forgiveness in our offices, our government and our corporations.  Indeed it is vital that we do for today we have the capacity to do great harm to one another and ourselves with the weapons of destruction that exist in the world today.


You will also be able to submit short articles to the newsletter and be informed as to the World Peace Conferences we will hold and the Nobel Peace Laureate Forums (which as a member you will be notified of special opportunities to meet them).  You will also know of the work we do in the school system and most importantly the books, videotapes and other merchandise, that we offer.


We also work locally, as last year when we helped organize a “Dialogue for Peace” at a local church.  This coming October 13, 2004 from 7-9pm, we will repeat this event with Oregon’s Senior Faith Leaders at the Schnitzer Concert Hall combining this with the beautiful music of Aaron Meyer and Bill Lamb.  We hope to make this a family event.  We have also held two Student Peace Summit’s bringing Nobel Peace Laureates to Oregon for a free event with Middle and High School Students and mailing to 600 schools a video, “A Message of Peace” and a teacher’s curriculum on teaching about Nobel Peace Laureates.  Finally we have a monthly World Peace Lunch with speakers which you are invited to attend.


Peace Be With You, Gary Alan Spanovich, Editor




We have a vision for world peace: that it is achievable; that an approach is available that can work; and that you can assist in this vision no matter what country your in, what religion you practice or what circumstances you live in.  Our vision is that we will all live in a state of inner peace and from that place of inner peace we will be able to reach out to others in peace and to develop, nurture and maintain peaceful relationships.  From these peaceful relationships we will then be able to bring ourselves into balance with the earth and that in the process we will remember how to nurture others, the earth,, and ourselves in life sustaining ways.


In order to achieve this vision we have synthesized basic principles which you can practice daily for achieving world peace.  We have formulated them in a “Charter For A More Peaceful World”.  It recognizes that only by first beginning with developing a place of peace within our own hearts, can we be effective in helping to assist others with bringing peace to the earth:

  • To Give Warmth Of Heart Towards Everyone

  • To Work For Basic Human Rights For Every Person On Earth And To Reaffirm The United Nations (December 10, 1948) Declaration Of Human Rights Guaranteeing Human Rights

  • To Practice Daily Prayer And Meditation On World Peace

  • To Nurture Daily Ourselves, Others, And The Earth


The Institute’s work is focused on both promoting a wholistic view of the world.  One which sets as it’s goal, peace-making processes and plans that recognize the inter-dependence of all life and one that the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Dalai Lama calls a “human approach to world peace”.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama calls us to action to first form a human relationship with our adversary and then in a second step to talk about and reach agreement on the issues separating us.  But to first form the human relationship and to remember our humanity and his or her humanity before we go any further.  He also calls on all of us to take a more wholistic view of reality, understanding that we are all inter-connected and what affects one will affect all.


The Nobel Peace Institute in Oslo, Norway has been recognizing the world’s leading peacemakers for over one hundred years with the Nobel Peace Prize.  The men and women who win this prize are our generations Mahatma Gandhi’s.  They are religious leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Archbishop Tutu.  They are political leaders such as former President’s Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, Jimmy Carter, Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez and Kim Dae Jung.  They are humanitarian and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Doctors Without Borders, and UNICEF.  They are also committed human beings who have showed extreme courage in the face of imminent danger, such as Betty Williams from Northern Ireland, Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina, and Albert Schweitzer.


These Nobel Peace Laureates have a special knowledge, a special skill and a special wisdom.  By holding world peace conferences in our most dangerous conflict areas and bringing six or more together and asking them to propose a peace plan.  We tap into their knowledge and offer to the world a “Nobel Peace Initiative” which could prevent great violence from taking control, much as they did once in their own countries and for which the won the Nobel Peace Prize.  These conferences are needed because new ways of looking at peace-making and world peace must be defined now, in this age of weapons of great destructiveness.  The coming of an awareness of world peace and that world peace as a goal is achievable is needed today.  With a fresh look and new approaches it maybe that a world peace movement could prove very inspirational, especially with our college students our future leaders.  


Part One: Religions For Peace


Oregon & International Senior Faith Leaders Teach Us About Peace


“PEACE”: By Rev. Abbot Joseph Wood, OSB; Former Abbot Mt. Angel Monastery


Peace is often described as freedom from war, or as an absence of hostilities between nations, and freedom from dissension.  This makes peace sound like an experience or state present or not in accordance with extrinsic things.  Real peace has more to do with what is going on within an individual person.  In this understanding, peace can be described as the tranquility of order.


I am writing as a Benedictine monk and we have a traditional value of what we call Pax or Peace, the Pax Benedictina.  This is the order and calmness that exists within individual persons when they are in tune with both spiritual and material reality.  It is an experience of inner balance in which personal integrity and the integrity of others is valued and recognized and in which one is in tune with God, humankind, creatures and the world.  It is interesting, early Christian monasticism, the desert monks thought of a perfect symbol of peace - establishing harmony with wild animals that were marauding their gardens.  An Irish monk in Switzerland, St. Gall, established a good relationship with a bear.  This is reminiscent of famous passage in Isaiah 11: “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the young lion shall browse together.”


It seems that St. Benedict’s most basic requirement for peace was the tranquility of order, through the following of the laws of nature: for example, getting enough rest, eating properly, not over drinking, avoiding extremes, and taking care of those who are sick.  Also in Benedictinism there needs to  be a harmony between being, thought, word and action.  Also Benedict insists on silence and orderliness.  This kind of an atmosphere promotes inner peace.  If one wants peace, one must avoid excessive worry, and excessive needs and one must have a certain openness and flexibility, and freedom from envy.  It is good to be basically content with life as one finds it.  This is only  possible by an ability to control our desires and possessing and evenness of character and by attempting to achieve unity with God.  But even if one has these desirable factors of development in one’s identity, peace on this earth is only partial and fragile.  


“Inspirational Messages For Peace: Taken From Sacred Jewish Texts”: By Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Neveh Shalom


• “A peace which comes from fear and not from  the heart is the opposite of peace.”


• “Where there is no peace, prayers are not heard.”


• “Better an insincere peace than a sincere quarrel.”


• “Better a bad peace than a good war.”

• “Peace is to man what yeast is to dough.”

• “Three things can’t live together in peace: wives, dogs, and chickens.”

• “For the sake of peace one may lie, but peace itself should never be a lie.”

• “When you quarrel, do it in such a way that you can make up.”

• “Peace: the wisp of straw, which binds the sheaf of blessings.”

• “Peace is important, for God’s name is SHALOM (peace).”

MIDRASH: Exodus, 9


• “The Holy Scripture was given to mankind in order to establish peace.”

MIDRASH: Tanhuma, Jethro

• Rabban Simeon ben had said: “The world rests on three things:  On justice, on truth, on peace.” Said Rabbi Mona:  “But these three are one and the same: for if there is justice, there is truth, and if there is truth, there is peace.”


• “Peace cannot be kept by force, but through understanding.’


• “Benedictions are of no avail if peace is not with them.”


• “The work of righteousness shall be peace.”

ISAIAH 32,17

• “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings, that announces peace!”


• “The Lord will bless His people with peace.”

PSALMS  37,37

• “Scholars multiply peace on earth.”


• “Seek peace in your own place and pursue it in others!”


• “When you draw near a city to fight, first offer it peace.”


• “He who winks makes trouble; he who openly reproves makes peace.”


• “TALMIDEI HAKHAMIM (saintly wise men) strengthen peace in the world.”


• “Better a morsel of dry bread, with peace than a house full of feasting, with strife.”



“The Importance Of Compassion To A Human Being”: By Rev. Mary Manin Morrissey, Senior Minister, Living Enrichment Center, Wilsonville, Oregon



“I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life it is deepest significance.”

-Pablo Casals-


We all know people that we would describe as difficult.  They may irritate us slightly or send our blood pressure skyrocketing.  They may teach our children, supervise our work, or marry into our family.  They may be the freeway speedster cursing as they pass us, or the foreign dictator on television spouting vitriol at the masses.  Whether we know our difficult people for five minutes or fifty years, whether they live next door or a world away, any time with them seems far too long.


When confronted with such an individual, how do we tend to respond?  Once, while in New York to address the United Nations on nonviolence, I hopped into a cab with a friend, giving our destination to the driver through the holes in the barrier that separates the front and back seats.  The man didn’t respond.  He was sipping a soft drink, and I thought at first his loud slurping had drowned out my voice.  “The United Nations, 46th Street entrance,” I repeated more loudly.  He whipped his head around, screaming, “When I want to hear where you’re going, I’ll ask yah!”  The taxi drivers I’d had before were always so polite, this man’s anger caught me off guard.  So we sat back and waited as he slurped his last sip.  Finally, he asked, in a bored voice,” So, where do you want to go?”

“To the United Nations.”  Pulling out into traffic, he proceeded to lecture me in a loud, angry voice dripping with sarcasm.  “Hey, Lady, there’s four buildings and if you’re not going to tell  me which street you want to go to and what entrance, if you’re going to play games with me, I’m taking you no place.  Did I mention that the topic was on nonviolence?  “Peaceful” Did not accurately describe my mood at that moment. I’d had a long day, too, recovering from my jetlag.  All kinds of mean, nasty, and dare i say, very clever retorts shot from my brain to the tip of my lips, and i had to press them closed to keep from reacting.  Imagine how this guy would feel when we jumped out of his run down old taxi at the next stop and didn’t pay him one penny!


But something kept me quiet and in that cab.  Yes, I felt frustrated.  This man had lashed out at me for no reason, and I had every right to lash right back.  But given the nature of my speech, I wondered if perhaps I had another choice.  We have all been blessed with the gift of compassion.  Now, it is easy to behave kindly toward others who behave kindly toward us.  It is also not a huge stretch to offer support to friends or strangers who’ve suffered a loss, who are in a difficult situation.  But when it comes to people who appear to be just plain difficult?  When we offer our compassion, regardless of the circumstance, we grow spiritually.  Compassion is not an emotion we dole out when it’s convenient, because expressing love to every person who crosses our path is the very purpose for which we were born.


There in the taxicab, i thought about the Dalai Lama.  He tells us that no matter how differently you see yourself from others, we all want the same thing: to avoid suffering and find happiness.  Perhaps this cab driver and I were not so different as I would imagine.  The Dalai Lama also tells us that we all have the power within us to be great peacemakers.  That power isn’t something we reserve for an audience before the General Assembly of the UN or if we hold political office.  We don’t change the world in an instance.  The practice begins in our backyard, or in my case, a back seat.



We reached the United Nations in silence.  I prayed for the Holy Spirit to lift me above my anger.  I saw that the meter read six dollars and opened my wallet to find a five-dollar bill, a one and a twenty. “Give him the twenty and tell him to keep the change,” a voice inside me said.  “Forget it!  He ought to pay us for this ride!”  My ego responded.  Let’s see.  I could deny him a tip and feel very righteous for about five minutes.  The end result would be that the driver would lash out even more ruthlessly to his next passenger, and eventually, I’d feel petty,  Or, I could take this moment to show compassion.  We don’t have to be kind when the mood strikes or when people treat you respectfully.  With my ego lambasting me the entire time, I took out the largest bill, handed it to him through the window and said, “Here, keep the change.”  “Thanks, Lady,” he said gruffly, but his eyes were half filled with tears.  showing that man compassion filled me with a euphoria that lasted for hours and fills me with joy whenever i recall the situation.


While many of the people we label “difficult” may vanish from our lives in an instant, strangers whom we will likely never see again are put in our path for a reason: They offer us the opportunity to think about who we choose to be when the going gets tough.  Who we are in an accumulation of moments is who we ultimately become.  Resisting the temptation toward revenge with smaller infractions teaches us to handle greater difficulties with grace.  If we lash out against every petty wrongdoing, how can we expect to build greater relationships with out loved ones, with our leaders, and our world?  We begin with compassion at the smallest juncture and make our stand as peacemakers.


There is no place where God is not, no place at all.  When confronted with people we call difficult, we can practice compassion, and on so doing, find God.



“A Buddhist Perspective On Peace And Happiness”: By His Eminence Beru Khyentse Rinpoche; Karma Tharjay Chokhorling; Kagyupa Vajrayana Buddhist Monastery; Bodhgaya


As we are gathered to reflect on world peace, it is only natural to examine the root and cause of peace.  In fact, that which is called peace and happiness  is sought by all human beings.  The source of this peace and happiness is the enlightened attitude, which is ‘whatever one does, is done for the benefit of others’.  If, over time, one develops this attitude, the benefit will multiply for both oneself and others.


In order for oneself to achieve peace, one needs to be able to pacify one’s owns conflicting emotions, for example, attachment, desire, greed, hatred, anger, etc... That is the basis for being able to help sentient beings.  Moreover, practicing the enlightened attitude to help other beings will naturally pacify the internal conflict.  This will result in not having the wish to harm others, and harmony will spontaneously arise.


Achieving peace and happiness must be first cultivated at an individual level.  Only in that way can it spread, person by person.  For example, if one member of a household truly develops the enlightened attitude, there will be harmony throughout the household.  In the same way, if we as individuals develop this inner peace, then naturally peace will expand throughout the country, and ultimately the world.  Here at these World Peace Conference’s, we are fortunate to have a number of eminent speakers and Nobel Peace Laureate presenters.

These extraordinary people have influenced and benefited many people in all walks of life.  Yet they all have one thing in common: they had to achieve inner transformation on an individual basis first.  Only then could they effect transformation of others.  This demonstrates that there is most certainly a connection between ones inner state, and the external world.  For instance, the nuclear bomb is  not created for peaceful purposes, but rather for defense or aggression.  This then breeds counter defense, leading to a dangerous  and paranoid world state.  The nuclear bomb therefore, is an outer negativity, which was created with conflict in mind, rather than for peace in mind.  In this way, we see that the outer animosity and conflicts are simply a reflection of one’s internal conflict.  It is the inner projection onto the outer world arena.


Outer conditions change, for better of worse.  However, fundamentally these changes are a reflection of the internal states of individuals.  In previous times in Tibet, for example, wildflowers were bountiful.  They grew with wild abandon, and blanketed the earth.  Yet with all the conflict of recent times, the environment in Tibet had been violated.  In an effort to control field rats, pesticides were used indiscriminately.  Initially, this curbed the population of rats.  However, they soon developed a resistance, and later the pesticides had the reverse effect of actually increasing the number of rats.  As a consequence, the earth was disrupted, and wildflowers also diminished.  Finally the lamas of the area conducted prayers to forgive the karmic debt of killing all the rats.  Ceremonies and actions were performed to restore the peace of the earth.  Consequently, the wildflowers are increasing again in those areas, and the rat population is decreasing.


Hence, it is necessary to develop an attitude of peace and harmony towards the earth.  We should treat her in the same way as our precious mother, who brought us into this world.  Unfortunately, the human race has been more exploitive than responsible in this regard.  Greed is indeed responsible for many of the world’s problems.  Exploitation of natural resources, without conscience is mainly fostered by greed.  Conversely, if one were to apply the enlightened attitude, one would   develop the earth based on the benefit of all those involved, as well as for future generations.  Through the enlightened attitude a superior result for all is possible.



Through ignorance, we are unaware the outer results start on the inside.  People in fact spend significant energy  trying to change the outer situation and environment.  For instance, many are now becoming aware that to solve the world’s health problems, building more hospitals and dispensing more medicines is not the answer.  Those approaches address the symptoms, with only a temporary effect.  To affect lasting change, education and hygiene, preventative medicine, and an amelioration of mental health is also necessary.  Accordingly, developing the proper inner attitude, habits and way of life is required to create true transformation.


It is clear that peace in our mind is the key to peace in the world.  We should strive to purify our intentions, thoughts, and emotions.  We should endeavor to work together in harmony with the earth and one another.  In this way each one of us can make a lasting impact on the world and in a natural way, peace can be achieved.


“A Hindu View On A Plan For Achieving World Peace”: By Dr. K.L.N. Swami, President Sai Baba University, Bangalore, India


“If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in character.  If there will be beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home.  If there will be harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.  If there is order in the nation, there will be peace  in the world.” (Sai Baba)


It was towards the end of the nineteenth century that Swami Vivekananda addresses the great congregation of men and women assembled in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago as “sisters and brothers” that received tremendous ovation from The representatives of all religions of the world.  They applauded for the loving address that was so convincing as it was eloquent.  They seemed to recognize the truth in the address.  He pointed out the unity in the vast diversity creates by the artificial barriers dividing the world and the people. 


Mankind has yearned for peace throughout the ages.  The goal has been relentlessly pursued on the international level on the negotiation tables, through summits and other forums.  Leo Tolstoy, the well-known Russian writer expressed doubts that peace could be achieved by any known methods.  He wrote:

“One thing only is needful.  The knowledge of the simple and clear truth which finds place in every soul; that is not stupefied by religion or by scientific superstitions- the truth for our life, one law is valid- the law of love, which brings the highest happiness to every individual as well as mankind.”


The force that can hold the world together is that of moral commitment; the right conduct and consideration for the other person. This profound attribute or value in mankind is possible only in an atmosphere of  ‘tone-downed materialism’.  If the individual values sense gratification and money, he is on his way to disintegration, if he values intellectual pursuits, the world will take a giant leap in science and technology; if the individual values the arts, the world will receive the stamp of good culture.  Only if the individual places the highest value on the spiritual awakening, the world will move in the right direction to taste the experience of spiritual bliss.


According to Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, one of the greatest philosophers in the contemporary world is of the opinion that the main cause of man’s unhappiness is an overdose of intellectuality.  To adore the intellect at the expense of the spirit, is a form of unlearning or ignorance which to both the Hindus and Socrates was the beginning of sin.


Our tension and anxieties are tied up with our intellect causing cracks in our lives.  The problem with us is directly connected with our snobbish attitude.  An experience or a feeling that he knows himself, distinguishes him from others.  Such an attitude rouses in him hopes and fears.  First we should make a self-retrospection.  A thorough analysis of our own selves will bring us to The conclusion that the root causes eof all problems we face are on account of our own follies.  Had we been self-effacing, less greedy and more considerate towards our own species as well as towards other species and Nature, there would not have been any problems at all.


Human life is the noblest and the most sacred.  It is divine in nature.  If you ask where is God, the 

answer is simple.  God lives in the individual and he is verily the God Himself.  The Vedas declare:

Devo Devalaya Prakrthihi!  Jeevo deva Sanathanaha.


This verse means: The body is the temple and the indweller of God.  The goal of all spiritual pursuits is understanding this truth.  In this temple of God, which is the body, the divinity is hidden in the form of Soul or Atma, which is described as formless, without attributes, timeless, pure and unsullied.


There are six thousand million of temples in the world. In other words the re are as many human beings and that is, the divine consciousness exists in every human body.  Again the Veda declare:  Easwara sarva butanam


The verse means that God is the indweller of every being. We are not able to realize this truth.  Let us not, therefore, hate or hurt anybody.  those who have realized this truth become apostles of Truth to proclaim and propagate this truth to awaken to this reality.  Man has been in quest of happiness and peace from time immemorial.  But it is like searching for God all over the world, not realizing that God is within his own self.


Long ago there was a merchant who thought of going on a pilgrimage and he had to cover the distance on foot during those days.  When it was dusk, he thought of spending the night in an inn.  A thief who pretended friendship with the merchant greeted him.  He spread his bed beside the merchant and feigned to sleep.  The merchant slept off when the thief began searching for the money the merchant had.  In spite of a thorough searching his bags and pockets of the merchant, he was unable to find it.  The next morning the merchant got up fresh and finding that his friend looked dull and his eyes sunken, he asked him if he slept well.  The thief said that he could not sleep as he was worried about the merchant’s money because of the presence of thieves around the inn.  The merchant the told him to his shock that he had taken care to keep his money bag right under the thief’s pillow for he thought that it would be safe there.  The thief had searches for the money everywhere except under his own pillow.  This is the predicament of man today.  He goes in search of God everywhere without looking into his own inner self.


We are confronted with a moral crisis today.  man has lost his credibility.  he has landed himself in The abysmal depths of cynicism.  Yet he has not given his faith in God.  We are witnesses to stampedes in holy congregations like haj pilgrimage, Kumbh Mela, Christmas in the Vatican, in Thirupathi and during birthday celebrations of bhagavav Sri Sai Baba where devoted come from 165 countries.  All these bear testimony to the intense faith man has in God.  If that is so, why thus tension, anxiety, greed, avarice, hatred, jealousy, anger and lust- all these leading to undesirable license.


Man’s life is very precious and even sacred and in order to preserve it, here is a prescription given below:

• Man should practice living on vegetarian food  as animal food will generate beastly qualities in him.

• He should cultivate a sense of discrimination to choose right from wrong.  He should become aware of what is good for him on a long-term basis keeping the community in view.  This will give him an urge to do good and be good.  Such action will kindle in him noble thoughts like compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice.

• The government should provide a healthy entertainment in the media like television, banning soap operas that stimulate animal tendencies.

• Smoking and alcohol should be banned all over the world to keep one healthy, clean, and holy.

• Charity and service activities to help the suffering should be encouraged through exemplary instances or inspiring ancestors through the popular media like the television or radio.  

• Elders have a vital role to play by taking these principles to schools where children should be taught value-oriented education in order to build a new social order.

• If these are brought into our daily lives, I am sure we would live in a world of peace, safety and security.


The world is a mansion with several halls and each is like a nation separated by walls acting as barriers. These halls are like different nations inhabited by individuals speaking different languages.  You and I are the inhabitants of such a mansion, children of the same Father, the owner of the mansion, that is God.  In such a world man can experience only peace in other words; spiritual bliss.


“My Religion”: A Poem By Gary Alan Spanovich, Adjunct Faculty, Religion & Philosophy Department, Marylhurst University, Marylhurst, Oregon














Part Two: Teachings Of The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates


His Holiness The Dalai Lama, The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Winner


The Dalai Lama is in a unique position to keynote this discussion as a President of a government as well as a Buddhist monk.  He has one foot in both the religious as well as the secular world.  As a Nobel Peace Prizewinner and because of his amazing stance of compassion and non-violence towards the Chinese, in spite of their genocide, he has been recognized as one of our world’s greatest leaders for peace and called a living “Gandhi”.


Recently the Dalai Lama met with a group of leading scholars and religious leaders from around the world in Dharamsala, India, where the Tibetan Government in Exile is based.  He was asked what he felt was the five most important questions to be considered as we move into the next millennium.  He answered:

• How do we address the widening gap between rich and poor?

• How do we protect the earth?

• How do we educate our children?

• How do we help Tibet and other oppressed countries and peoples of the world?

• How do we bring spirituality(deep caring for one another) through all disciplines of life?” 


The Dalai Lama feels how we educate our children in the ways of compassion, universal responsibility, non-violence, and understanding and mutual respect is one of the most important issues facing us today and he speaks to youth groups all over the world on this.  He feels that if we have true compassion in our hearts, our children will be educated wisely, we will care for the earth, those who “have not” will be cared for.  This is in keeping with the His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s vision that we cannot separate out spiritual principles such as compassion and from forgiveness from our everyday decisions.


Dr. William Schulz, Executive Director, Amnesty International (1977Nobel Peace Prize)

Comments About World Peace From The May, 2001 World Peace Conference


The Chair has given me permission to speak from the pulpit, and as a former Minister, you’ll understand that I’m drawn here, but more importantly, looking at half the audience through the lines of that microphone, you look like a Picasso painting from the late era.  [laughter]  So this is easier for me.


The human rights organization Amnesty International is immensely proud to be in this great company of our fellow Nobel laureates.  And I’m extremely grateful to the organizers of the World Peace Conference for this opportunity to be with you here today.


The great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber used to tell of a famous emperor who was presented one day with an edict banning Jews from his country.  The Emperor took up his pen to sign the edict, but he was distracted by an interruption.  He took up his pen a second time and again some distraction pulled him away from the task.  Finally the Emperor signed the edict, but reaching out for the sand box on his desk for some sand with which to dry his signature, he spilled the inkwell all over the paper.  At that moment a profound change came over his face, and tearing up the ink-stained paper, the Emperor declared, “Never bring me this edict again.”  


Now the relationship between a change of heart and a change of practice is a complicated one.  While some torturers appear to experience little guilt about their acts, many report afterwards that they felt remorse even while they were committing the torture, experienced sleeplessness, are ashamed of what they did.  And yet they did it nonetheless.  One of the reasons the Nazis forced inmates of their concentration camps, the inmates, to retrieve the bodies from the gas chambers after the victims had been gassed is because many of their own soldiers found it such a demoralizing task.  And yet the killing went on and on and on. 


As the only head of a U.S. human rights organization that is devoted solely to human rights, who is also a member of the clergy – virtually all of my colleagues are lawyers, which tells you a lot about how we in the United States approach human rights – I’m well aware that religion can be as much a hindrance to peace as a help.  The truth about religion often hurts.  Mrs. Robert A. Taft was correct when she observed that if you laid end to end all the people who fall asleep in church… they’d be a lot more comfortable.  [laughter]  


Adolph Hitler was never excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.  The Dutch Reform Church in South Africa was one of the leading voices in favor of apartheid.  The Taliban in Afghanistan persecute women in the name of their religious faith.  We know very well that religion is no guarantor of civility, and we know that if we are wise we will not rely upon just the kindness of tyrants, or the clumsiness of emperors with inkwells.  Augusto Pinochet, you know, is said to be a doting, loving grandfather.  So praying for a change of heart in the war-makers in order to bring peace or spread justice is likely to be a disappointing exercise, but encouraging recognition of our common humanity, the great spiritual well out of which we all draw our sustenance, the graciousness of all creation, our utter dependence upon its blessings, all this is far from unimportant.  It’s important first because, while revolutions and genocide do not happen without leaders who want them to happen, they also do not happen without followers either.  And if the followers have not been properly prepped to partake of bloodshed, they’re far less likely to do so when the moment comes.  


It’s true that the Rwandan genocide and the massacres in Bosnia would not have happened had a handful of leaders not exploited underlying ethnic tensions that had been lying dormant there – sometimes for decades.  But that underlying tension was there.  The historian Daniel Goldhagan propagated the controversial theory that anti-Semitism ran deep in German culture and accounts for the fact that everyday Germans collaborated with the Nazis in their evil deeds.  Other historians have countered that, on the contrary, the average German was no more anti-Semitic than any other European of the time.  But regardless of that debate, we all know that the Danes hid their Jews from the Nazis, while the Poles offered them up to be sacrificed.  Do we think the difference has nothing to do with the spiritual values of the two cultures of the day?  And yet this is too blunt an analysis, for not every Pole, by any means, betrayed our common notions of decency.  Some of them gave up their own lives to protect their neighbors, and are honored today among the legions of the righteous.  And that too is why we ignore, at our peril, the spiritual dimensions of character formation.  For when those who chose to do everything they could to help the innocent, sometimes at risk of their own safety, when those people were asked why they did it, why did they help the Jews and the gypsies and the homosexuals to seek protection, sometimes at risk of their own lives, this is what they say – in the words of one Frenchman who’d saved dozens of Jews from the ovens – this is what they say:  “It is something you cannot plan. It is like a tidal wave. When a tidal wave comes over a village you just feel lucky to be alive and to be able to save people – you just do it. You don’t sit down and ask yourself ‘can I do it?’ It is simply part of your body – the will is part of your body – you just feel it and you do it.”  Well, what is that but another way of saying that if we have a solid spiritual core, what the Buddhists would call “right intention,” our behavior will follow seamlessly in streams of righteousness.  


Shakespeare put these famous words in the mouth of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice: “I am a Jew, and hath not a Jew organs, senses, affections? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? And if you poison us, do we not die?”  The more people in a society who respond to that speech with a spark of recognition, the likelier it is that that society will be a peaceful one.  But it requires only a handful of people, sometimes only one to respond, in order to teach an important lesson.  Why in the Christian tradition did God agree to save the city of Sodom for the sake of ten righteous men?  Not forty-five or fifty – surely ten is enough?  Surely any city or nation, even the most iniquitous, ought to be able to produce more than ten, certainly if they counted among them the women?  [laughter and applause]  But the fact is that if ten people, even one person rises above the predilections of their time, those ten – or that one – signal that any one of us could do it.  


You know, no one today faults a cave person for having bad table manners, because to the best of our knowledge Emily Post had not been published in that era. [laughter]  Not a single one of them knew which fork to use with their salad.  But only five years after Thomas Jefferson defended slavery, William Lloyd Garrison railed against it.  At the same time that Martin Heideger pimped for the Nazis as the rector of the University of Marburg, Deitrich Bonnhoffer went to prison.  And while the Dalai Lama has stood for freedom and human rights, Deng Zhaoping slaughtered children.  Had there been no Garrison, Bonnhoffer, or Dalai Lama, perhaps we could excuse Jefferson, Heidgegger, or Deng; but in the face of the righteous, in the face of the knowledge that it was at that time humanly possible to choose the honorable course, then the case for those who chose travesty completely crumbles.  God asked for ten righteous people, because God knew that even a handful of those who cry shame in the face of perfidy, or find beauty in a trail of dust, even a handful can save a soul of a city or a people.  


It’s a rare leader whose gracious spirit and religious practice are so closely aligned as to brook no dissonance – a Mandela, a Havel.  You know, upon assuming the presidency of the Czech Republic, Vachlav Havel said, “My presidential program is to bring spirituality, moral responsibility, humanness and humility into politics, and in that respect, to make clear that our deeds do not disappear into the deep hole of time.”  What a remarkable thing for a politician to have said.  What a remarkable thing.  Compared to the Massachusetts State Senator who got on statewide radio a few years ago and proclaimed the Republican octopus is spreading its testicles across the commonwealth… [laughter]  What a remarkable thing for a politician to say.  I know Senator Hatfield would have, [laughter] but very few others.  And how much more remarkable that Havel has done largely what he said.  


But far more common, thought surprising in its own way, too, is my experience with David Trimbull, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.  I’d visited one of Trimbull’s constituents on an Amnesty mission to Northern Ireland, a Catholic family whose son had been killed by a Protestant mob while the police had sat across the street and done nothing.  And when I met with the Protestant Mr. Trimbull, I raised the Robert Hamil case with him.  Trimbull had been carrying on his usual rant against the Catholics, and when I first raised Hamil’s name he took off on an indictment of the dead boy’s character.  So I decided to change my tactic with this angry, rigid man.  “Mr. Minister,” I said as quietly as I could, and I put my hand on his forearm.  “I don’t know the whole facts of the Hamil incident,” I said, “but I do know that there are a mother, a father, a sister in that house in deep mourning for a beloved child. And I do know that as First Minister you are no longer just the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. You are the leader of this whole community. And if Northern Ireland is ever to heal, it will be because people in your position reach out across the barriers of the mind to the regions of the heart. Can you possibly find it in your heart to reach out to a suffering family, even though they be Catholic, as one fragile, mortal human being to another?”  When I had finished, something remarkable happened.  The room became still, and for an instant, David Trimbull’s eyes filled with tears.  The tears didn’t spill over, and Trimbull quickly caught his emotions and reverted to his more familiar aggressive style.  He would deny today, I’m sure, that he had felt any emotion whatsoever, but I was so stunned, not even sure that I had seen what I had thought I had seen, that twenty minutes later, at the end of our conversation, I repeated my plea in similar words and, once again, Trimbull’s eyes became misty and he averted his gaze.


I think for many leaders what appears as hard-heartedness is in fact protection against feeling all the pain they see around them.  What we require in our leaders is the spiritual courage to see the terror, even when the rest of us would rather look away, to find the common humanity, even when the rest of us are tearing each other’s hearts out.  And because we can find that courage in our leaders only rarely, we require, in addition to a spiritual regiment, we require a structure of human rights – universal, indivisible and enforced.  Spirituality and human rights go hand in hand.  Justice, peace and human rights do – we cannot do one without the other.  Neither can flourish without the other.  


When Alexander Vardofsky, the editor of the Russian journal Novemir, read for the first time in his life Solzenitson’s staggering account of life in the slave labor camps, Solzenitson’s novel Ivan Denisavich, Vardofsky got out of bed where he had started reading the book, put on a coat and tie, and sat up the rest of the night reading the book at his desk.  “It would have been an insult to the victims,” he said the next day, “to read that book in my pajamas.”  I wish every one of us donned gowns and tuxedoes in the face of human anguish.  But because we don’t, we require human rights.  We also require a generous spirit.  And when we have them both – human rights, a generous spirit – we will have, too, a world at peace.  Thank you.  [applause]


Betty Williams (1976 Nobel Peace Prize)

Comments About World Peace From The May, 2001 World Peace Conference


I think the most common cause of war is injustice.  I mean that goes without saying really.  I can take the situation of Northern Ireland, where the Catholic people for many centuries had been ignored.  And after a while that became a festering sore.  You see, governments never see us – I say this in my talks – government will never see what’s on its doorstep.  It’ll only see it when it’s in the living room, and by then it’s far too late.  It wasn’t that the British government was told what was happening to my people in Ireland – of course they were told.  But they chose to ignore the will of the people.  And when a government does that, then you create a situation.  I often refer to it almost like dynamite, because it festers, you know.  Most politics are in the living room, and I can remember sitting in our living room in my own home with my father who used to yell at the television, you know?  And now I do that [laughter], you know, but anyway, Margaret Mead actually said it better than anybody could say it, I think.  She said, “Never doubt that a committed group of people, however small, can change the world. In fact it is the only thing that ever has.”  Because if you’re committed to the cause on a daily basis every day, eventually somebody’s going to take you seriously, you know?  I walk those hallowed halls of Washington.  It’s awful hard.  It knocks the stuffing out of you, it really does.  But we had to get the politicians in Washington to listen to the fact that there were suitcases full of money coming to Northern Ireland to kill my people.  We had to start with the big four – Kennedy, Tip O’Neill, Kerry, Monoghan, and get the leprechauns off their stools, and say, “Excuse me, you don’t live in Ireland anymore.”  I mean, people call themselves Irish American.  You’re not Irish American, you’re Irish heritage.  You’re American.  I’m Irish – I was born there.  When you’re born in the United States, you’re born in the United States.  And you can claim your heritage, but you can’t claim to patronize another country when it’s at war.  And that’s what happened here.  However, I digress.  


If you want to change anything, you begin with yourself.  And then if you want to change the person beside you, you don’t do it by pontificating.  You do it by example.  And never ask anybody around you to do a job you wouldn’t do yourself.  That includes cleaning the toilet, you know?  I’m in our office and I clean the toilet.  And keep real.  Most of us are inclined to believe in our own myth, you know?  Just keep real and you’ll achieve whatever you decide to.  There’s nothing you can’t do.  That’s one of the things that I really love to happen to me, and that’s when somebody says, “You can’t do that.”  Right.  That makes me want to say, “Let me show you.”  It’s a childish thing, you know, “I’ll show them.”  If we have the attitude of we’ll show them, we will show them.  [applause]


Part Three: An Wholistic Approach To Peace In The Middle East



The Second World Peace Conference Will Be In Rome, Italy


The second World Peace Conference will be held in Rome, Italy.  Plans are now underway to partner with Mayor Walter Veltroni’s Nobel Peace Forum in November, 2004.  Meetings have been held with the University of Rome, the United Nations-FAO, and the Vatican Pontifical Council Of Justice & Peace to form partnerships for the Conference.  Also Nobel Peace Laureates: Lech Walesa, Betty Williams, Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez, Dr. William Schulz (Amnesty), and Dr. Robert Musil (Physicians for Socail Responsibility) have also been conducted.  Also Dr. Helen Caldicott has been called and a number of middle east religious leaders have been approach and invited to the conference, including the chief rabbi of Israel and the Imam of the largest Mosque in the United States.


The purpose of the conference is to make a contribution to restarting the peace process in the Middle East.  Without an on-going dialogue toward peace the violence will begin to spiral out of control, if it has not already.  The great hate that exists there is a fertile ground for the potential exchange of nuclear weapons.  Sooner or later the terrorists there may acquire a nuclear weapon and with the intense animosity toward Israel could use it there.  This could in turn trigger the use of nuclear weapons by Israel and perhaps an even larger nuclear exchange by other states not in the Middle East.  If this nuclear exchange occurs it could affect the entire planet with the potential of a “global winter”.  Or perhaps more regionally as Chernobyl did when no mile could be drunk in countries as far away as Ireland, for two full years, due to the high levels of strontium 90 in cows milk.


The World Peace Conference will focus on the Middle East and is entitled, “New Approaches For Peace In The Middle East”.  The Conference will have two aspects to it.  First a dialogue and critique of existing Middle East peace plans by multiple Nobel Peace Laureates.  Presently there are the following Middle East Peace Plans on the table:

  • The Road Map To Peace For Peace (Sponsored by the United States)

  • The Geneva Initiative For Peace (Grass roots peace plan)

  • The Alexandra Initiative For Peace (Religious initiative by the Archbishop of Canterbury)

  • A Wholisitc Approach To Peace In The Middle East (A Peace Plan The Wholistic Peace Institute Will Place On The Table At The Beginning Of The Conference)


Following a dialogue on these peace plans: Why they are not working?  What are their strong points?  What are their weak points?  What new peace initiative is needed?  What can we learn from the Northern Ireland accords (Betty Williams), or the work of Solidarity (Lech Walesa), or the Sandinista-Contra Peace Agreement (Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez)?  The multiple Nobel Peace Laureates who will attend the conference will develop a Nobel Peace Initiative for peace in the Middle East.  Based on the development of their thoughts on how to achieve peace in the Middle East, which will be known as the Nobel Peace Initiative For The Middle East.  We hope to have a 25-page document, which will come from this conference, which will hopefully add new ideas on how to restart the peace process there. 


Secondly an inter-religious dialogue with both Oregon senior faith leaders which have been involved with the Wholistic Peace Institute for many years and religious leaders from the Middle East who will prepare and sign a “Religious Letter of Intent”. We cannot look to only our political leaders, whether in Israel, Palestine, or Washington, D.C. to solve the Middle East conflict.  They cannot solve it.  Their approach is not whole.  We must turn as well to the religious leaders of both sides to take the first step toward solving this problem.  They are the keys to a bringing peace to the Middle East.

With this in mind, the Wholisitc Peace Institute would like to suggest a “Statement Of Religious Intent” which the religious leaders of the Middle East would jointly sign.  The “Statement” would begin a process of peace-making by the religious leaders as well and the following points are suggested:

  • We a body of “religious leaders” urge a peaceful resolution to our differences;

  • We know through meditation on our common humanity, we can feel the pain and the sorrow of the other side, as well as the pain and sorrow of our own people;

  • It is time for the atrocities between our two people’s to end;

  • We must come together in small groups on our respective sides, discussing how peace can occur and discussing our pain and sorrow of the last few years, so a healing process can begin;

  • Then we must invite into our group, one from your side to help us understand you and how you feel and you must invite into each one of your group’s, one from our side to help you understand us;

  • This process may take a year, or less, we hope it will not take longer.  We pledge to provide support in anyway we can to help with this dialogue;

  • We must then pray together for hope insight, reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion and for one another;

  • Then we must combine our groups, so we sit as one people with different religions, different views, different cultures, but as “one people with one common humanity”;

  • We must then invite our government leaders to sit in on our groups, as citizens, so they can take back to their policy work the compassion and the forgiveness that we have found;

  • We must then turn every church, every congregation, every Temple, every Mosque into a “zone of peace” where compassion for the other is taught and the fragile peace we have created is nurtured and maintained for ourselves as well as our children.


“To Be Signed By The Religious Leaders”


A Wholisitc Approach To Peace In The Middle East: Setting The Study Framework


It is the Institute’s premise that the dangerous situation in the Middle East, primarily the conflict between the Israeli and the Palestinian’s is dysfunctional.  The situation as it exists is not a political problem but is being looked at as a political problem by both governments and by much of the world.  Rather the Institute would view the situation as crises of relationship and communication.  It is at its deepest level a “human problem” and not a political problem.  Only humanity can solve this problem and end the dysfunction in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.  As long as it is being looked at as a political problem and solved that way, the solutions will fail.  When it is viewed as a “human problem” and the solutions reflect that and the problem is acted upon that way, the conflict can be solved.


The wholistic approach moves people from a “non-functioning relationship” into a “functioning relationship”.  This is why meditation is so important to the “peace-making process” because it puts people in touch with their true feelings and their humanity.  Getting in touch with the “inner humanity”, the “inner human being” points the way to the “human solution”.  The first step in applying the Wholisitc approach either to an individual problem or a collective problem is to utilize the “meditative approach” to discern all aspects of the problem and the correct solution.  You cannot skip this first step and get to a wholistic approach.  The Wholistic Study framework will research the following:

  • The spiritual answer to the conflict

  • How physical boundary can keep both Israeli’s and Palestinian’s safe

  • What emotional healing process can be started to heal fifty years of hate

  • How to begin the process of new thinking about the conflict and articulating a new vision


Part Four: The Global World Peace Movement


The Wholisitc Peace Institute believes there is a World Peace Movement, which is underway in the world today.  That people everywhere are coming to the conclusion that the world is too dangerous a place, with the immense killing power of the arsenals of world’s nuclear powers to not realize that global problems can only be solved through dialogue.  It is dialogue on our differences, our conflicts and our different beliefs and values that can avoid killing.  Somehow we must all find a way to stop the killing that occurs by the incredible destructive power of today’s weapons in ways that the 1989 Nobel Peace Laureate the Dalai Lama calls, “institutionalized murder”.  


With this view to a Global World Peace Movement, the Institute believes that our Nobel Peace Laureates are the generals of it.  For it is they who have formed global peace treaties that have saved in many cases thousands of people from dying.  They are a storehouse of wisdom and knowledge on how the world can achieve world peace.  It is to them the Institute looks and presents as many opportunities as possible in which to gain their insight and wisdom.  In addition to the conference in Rome, the Institute is also planning conferences in: Seoul, South Korea in 2005 on, “Reconciling the differences between North and South Korea; Dharamsala, India on, “Reducing the nuclear tension on the Indian Sub-Continent”; Hiroshima, Japan; and Taipei, Taiwan


News From Around The World On The Global World Peace Movement


In this part of the Journal the Institute encourages people to send in information that could be published on what is going on worldwide and to share ideas.  Also the Institute would also like to host a global worldwide email on this world peace movement.


World Peace Lunches


The Institute holds a monthly World Peace Luncheon each month in Portland, Oregon at Tibet Kitchen, 103 NW 21st Avenue from Noon to 1:15 PM.  A monthly speaker is chosen and offers a talk on world peace and how people in Oregon, at a local level can work for global world peace.  Good Tibetan food, good friendship and a spirited discussion of how to work for global world peace are the hallmarks of this lunch.  For dates please call (503-266-8996)or email the Institute.


National Student Peace Society & Student Peace Summit’s


The Institute has an initiative underway to start a Student Peace Society in every school.  The Society would be modeled after the National Honor Society and would encourage peace leadership, scholarship, peace making skills and other values.  Each year the Society would also hold a junior Noble Peace Prize ceremony in each school, encouraging the students themselves to choose their greatest peacemaker.  Along with this one to two weeks on Nobel Peace Laureate would be taught in the schools as part of the social science curriculum.  The Institute has a video (A Message of Peace) it has produced and a 75 page Teacher’s Curriculum on how to teach about peace and dialogue in the schools and is available on request.

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