Nobel Peace Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu's “Recipe for Peace”
An Interview with Bishop Tutu by Beliefnet
One of the world's heroes believes, “God works through us and through history to bring about God's dream” (A Beliefnet interview)
Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu is one of the world's most beloved religious figures. A longtime foe of apartheid, he retired as Episcopal archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and was then named chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the organization charged with bringing to light the atrocities committed during apartheid and achieving reconciliation with the former oppressors. Beliefnet conducted an email interview with him about his latest book, "God Has a Dream."
What is God’s dream, and how was it imparted to you?
God's dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion. In God’s family, there are no outsiders, no enemies. Black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight, Jew and Arab, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Buddhist, Hutu and Tutsi, Pakistani and Indian—all belong. When we start to live as brothers and sisters and to recognize our interdependence, we become fully human.
This dream can be found throughout the Bible and has been repeated by all of God's prophet’s right down to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.
Is it realistic to say there are no enemies when we are involved in a war?
God’s love is too great to be confined to any one side of a conflict or to any one religion. People are shocked when I say that George Bush and Saddam Hussein are brothers that Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon are brothers, but God says, “All are my children.” It is shocking. It is radical. But it is true.
Aren’t some people simply beyond redemption?
We in South Africa had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and we had the most devastating revelations of ghastly atrocities. We could describe them as monstrous, even demonic. But even these torturers remained children of God, with a possibility of being able to change. After all, a thief on the cross was able to repent and Jesus promised that thief, "You will be with me in paradise." Jesus didn't say, “Look at what kind of life you have led up to this point.” All of us have the capacity to change, even to become saints.
Is your book relevant to non-Christians or people with no religious faith?
I believe so very much. Because love is universal. I mean, you don't have to believe in God to know that loving is better than hating. We are trying to remind them that all of us are fundamentally good. The aberration is the bad person. God is not upset that Gandhi was not a Christian, because God is not a Christian! All of God's children and their different faiths help us to realize the immensity of God. No faith contains the whole truth about God. And certainly Christians don't have a corner on God. All of us belong to God. Even the nonbeliever is precious to God. And one simply tries to remind them that they are made for transcendence. They are made for goodness.
What compelled you to write this book now?
I think the fact that we are overwhelmed by so much conflict—or nearly overwhelmed. So many of us feel despair because of all the suffering in our world and in our lives. And one needed to say that God has not finished with God’s work. Creation is a work in progress. Evil is not going to have the last word. God has us as God’s collaborators, fellow-workers, and ultimately good—and those who strive for it—will prevail. Even during the darkest days of apartheid, we kept saying, “They have already lost.” And they had—because immoral laws and rulers will always topple.
You say that this is a moral universe and that “God is a God who cares about right and wrong.” How do you explain suffering and injustice in the world?
The problem of evil and suffering is important and is not to be dealt with lightly. Our ability to do evil is intimately connected to our ability to do good. One is meaningless without the other. Empathy and compassion have no meaning unless they occur in a situation where one could be callous and indifferent to the suffering of others. Suffering, it seems, is not optional. It is part and parcel of the human condition, but suffering can either embitter us or ennoble us. I hope that people will come to see that this suffering can become a spirituality of transformation when we find meaning in it.
Have you had any moments when you yourself doubted that God is just?
[During apartheid] I got angry, very angry with God, but never doubted that the issue would be resolved through the triumph of good. There were, of course, times in South Africa when you had to whistle in the dark to keep your morale up, and you wanted to whisper in God's ear, "God we know You are in charge, but can't You make it a little more obvious?" You see, we are free to be completely human and authentic with God. Jeremiah says, "God, you have deceived me." Sometimes I did get furious with God. I officiated at many funerals.
Of all the things you saw in South Africa, what was the greatest evidence of God's power and love?
During the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, when we witnessed the ability of victims to forgive their torturers—and of former torturers to transform their lives.
How would you apply the concept of reconciliation to the situation in the Middle East and the cycle of violence and retaliation? How can the two sides ever achieve peace?
One of the things we learned in South Africa is that there is no true security from the barrel of a gun. The conflict in the Holy Land is one powerful example. I am on the Board of the Shimon Peres Peace Center in Tel Aviv, and I understand the desire Israelis have to live in peace and safety. But as we saw in South Africa, there is no peace without justice, and safety only comes when desperation ends. Inevitably it is when people sit down and talk that desperation ends.
Negotiations happen not between friends but between enemies. And a surprising thing does seem to take place; at least it did in South Africa. Enemies begin to find that they can actually become friends, or at least collaborators for the common good. They come together and then actually they ask themselves, “Why did we take so long to get to this point? Why did so many people have to die?” Of course, you must have leaders who are willing to take risks and not just seek to satisfy the often-extreme feelings of their constituencies. They have to lead by leading and be ready to compromise, to accommodate, and not to be intransigent, not to assert that they have a bottom line. Intransigence and ultimatums only lead to more death.
You lived with constant death threats, yet managed to continue your work. What can you tell us about dealing with fear and anxiety?
People often ask whether I was afraid. You bet. Especially for my family. All of us experience fear, but when we confront and acknowledge it, we are able to turn it into courage. Being courageous does not mean never being scared; it means acting as you know you must, even though you are undeniably afraid. Actually, courage has no meaning unless there are things that threaten, that make you feel scared. Whether we are afraid of physical harm or social shame and embarrassment, when we face our fear instead of denying it, we are able to avoid it paralyzing us.
What do you mean when you say that “God only has us”? Isn’t God all-powerful?
I mean that God works through us and through history to bring about God’s dream. God actually needs us. We are God’s partners. When there is someone who is hungry, God wants to perform the miracle of feeding that person, but it won’t any longer be through manna falling from heaven. Normally, God can do nothing until we provide God with the means, the bread and the fish, to feed the hungry. In so many ways, God uses each of us to realize God’s dream.
Many of us feel distant from God. How can we feel the kind of intimacy you obviously experience?
Frequently we assume that only a special few can hear the voice of God in their lives but I try to explain that people can “be still” and know that God is God in and through them. This is why prayer and meditation are so important. If I do not spend a reasonable amount of time in meditation early in the morning, then I feel physical discomfort—it is worse than having forgotten to brush my teeth!
You mention the African concept of ubuntu. What is it, and how does it relate to God’s dream for us?
Ubuntu is a concept that we have in our Bantu languages at home. Ubuntu is the essence of being a person. It means that we are people through other people. We cannot be fully human alone. We are made for interdependence, we are made for family. When you have ubuntu, you embrace others. You are generous, compassionate. If the world had more ubuntu, we would not have war. We would not have this huge gap between the rich and the poor. You are rich so that you can make up what is lacking for others. You are powerful so that you can help the weak, just as a mother or father helps their children. This is God's dream.
FINDING OUR WAY TO PEACE
Jim Sitzman, BS, MA Harvard Divinity School & Newsletter Contributor
Peace demands all we have: its elusive character extracts from our keenest mind and noblest heart. This of course explains in some measure why the Wholistic Peace Institute promotes Nobel Peace Laureates. They have been there, done that! The circumstances of each Laureate’s work differed from all the others’, just as circumstances in each of the world’s peace-less places today differs from all of their circumstances. Yet their experience is some of the best available.
Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, 1984 Laureate, recently visited Portland. Regarding his mind and heart, he scores among the keenest and the noblest. Witness his brief interview atop this article: “Desmond Tutu’s Recipe for Peace”. It is based on his book “God Has a Dream”. What follows springs from his interview to some observations offered to stimulate thoughtfulness and introspection on peace, with special attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Work them over as best you can! Follow the links and references. Think About It! Then give us your feedback if you wish.
“Recipe for Peace” abounds with the basic ingredients and leavenings of peace. Let us list some of them: the interdependence of family, togetherness, goodness and compassion; reconciliation processes; love and transcendence; empathy and willingness to forgive; security and justice. Ubuntu! But “recipe” is too exacting a term based on the ingredients of this interview! The circumstances of every peace-less place are different in history, persons, issues and grievances, resources, hopes and aspirations. Peacemakers, like most master chefs, incorporate certain basic ingredients and innovate based on the circumstances at hand: the season, locale, resources, attitudes and needs of the people, and more!
Unlike spices, condiments and herbs, these ingredients of peace do not come prepared from the rack, shelf or drawer. They are ‘things’ of the heart. They must be generated within persons, sparked among people and nurtured tirelessly. Peacemaking cannot happen without such ingredients, but it can wither if not fused with peaceful content in peoples’ real-life experiences. While these ingredients leaven indispensably the processes of peacemaking, at some point that which makes peace concrete must be realized.
Let us explore a bit some of these indispensable ingredients of peacemaking: to forgive, compassion and reconciliation.
First, remember that words can be slippery. The prospect of “forgiving” as an action of Deity or the practice of saints differs in the case of combatants in a conflict. Forgiving is most often definitional to Deity, a learned behavior of saints and a strange idea to combatants caught-up in conflict. Divine forgiveness grants to humankind comfort and ethical direction; saintly forgiveness inspires; forgiveness for the combatant remains, though possibly tempting, unlearned and risky. Thus, it is likely that forgiveness on the part of Israelis and Palestinians will play less of a role in settling their conflict than in securing the peace after the settlement. Elevate the level of stability in the conflict, while lowering the risks involved, and both Israelis and Palestinians can more readily commence to “stop feeling angry or resentful toward” each other “for offenses and mistakes.”
Think about it!
“Compassion” also has its slippery qualities. Based on literal terms of its definition, the compassionate one shows “sympathetic pity and concern for misfortune and suffering of others.” Such reflects the generous spirit of the compassionate one. But what about the recipient of compassion?
It can mean one thing for “the down-and-outer” to find comfort and relief in a compassionate gesture. But a combatant may take a gesture of compassion from an adversary as an insult. Could this be the case for Palestinians? David Ignatius notes that over his 29 years of contacts in the Middle East as a reporter “a recurring theme…is “dignity”. That is what Israeli and U.S. actions have offended.”
Sure, compassion will be an essential ingredient in Middle East peacemaking, but it will take some deep sensitivity, knowledge and wisdom to discern when and by whom and how compassion is best employed. Like the counselor/therapist knowing when ‘help’ will help (i.e., when it will be received). Under the circumstances, one might also conclude that compassion will need to be first exercised from beyond Israeli and Palestinian leaders: by their citizenry, by American citizens, the wider Arab community of nations and citizens, by the world community. Think about it!
Third, reconciliation has its own internal slippery quality. Its definition ranges from “restore friendly relations between” and “make or show to be compatible”, to “make someone accept a disagreeable thing”. The more fanciful expectation is that Israelis and Palestinians will on their own momentum restore friendly relations or show themselves to be compatible. The more practical expectation is that someone will intervene to cause reconciliation. The U.S. is too complicit in the conflict to be the sole cause of reconciliation.
The “Quartet” (Russia, U.S., United Nations and European Union), with a credible peace plan on the table, needs more primary participation by Arab nations. King Abdullah of Jordan posits assistance by the 57 member Organization of the Islamic Conference, with a strong leaning on the opening he sees in the Barack Obama Presidency.
Some such coalition of powers, girded by substantial grass-roots citizenship, will likely be essential to the crafting of a Middle East settlement. Think about it!
Think also about the nature of the settlement. It will create a viable Palestinian state along the lines of UN Resolutions 194 and 242. It will grant just compensation in concert and/or in lieu of Palestinian “right-of-return”. It will provide religious and political access to Jerusalem for both Israel and Palestine. It will secure security for Israel, including by an international agreement with Iran on nuclear policy. It will calm the Hezbollah/Hamas-style extremes. It will allocate natural resources to the new State in a manner that supports viability. It will be enhanced if it has the backing of at least the 15 Arab nations neighboring Israel, with an over-arching economic development plan for the whole area. And it will if fully conceived have economic, structural and moral ballast from The Quartet plus Arab conferees until settlement arrangements have matured: and until forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation flourish. These features deserve elaboration because they comport with international law as with the dictates of justice, the precepts of dignity and humankind’s right to peace.
Regarding the matter of ‘law’, Father Claude Pomerleau of the Wholistic Peace Institute (WPI) Board has a short piece available at the WPI on the rule of law. In it he quotes Senator Patrick J. Leahy as saying, “Upholding the rule of law…is the best way to protect ourselves, our freedoms and our values.” The article also points out how the failure to establish “effective rule of law and a just economic order” in former colonial states still feeds “distrust and arbitrary monopoly of power, with a residual paternalism that prioritizes access to natural resources….” This article reminds us that “…establishing the rule of law as a workable tool for security, development and human rights” is critical to statehood. And further, as it applies to Israel and a new Palestinian state, the rule of law must account for the fact that “Muslim societies define their rule of law within a different legal and historical framework.”
Fareed Zakaria, in “The Future of Freedom”
, documents other concrete conditions where peace thrives: in states with elections and liberal, constitutional rights. Getting there, he writes in summary, need not occur in order, elections then rights. Rights may be provided in a variety of combinations. Preceding both elections and rights, however, the populace will have achieved a per capita income between $3000 and $6000.
Rights that make states viable are liberal in that they grant liberty to the individual and liberty is protected against coercion. Rights are constitutional because the rule of law is exercised in defense of the right to life and property and the freedom of religion and speech; checks and balances are placed on government; equality under law is preserved; impartial courts and tribunals are provided for; and separation of church and state is sanctioned (with accommodation to Muslim law).
Western contributors to a settlement in the Middle East will be wise to focus on what its people will receive in the way of governance before what the Western world would prescribe. Zakaria documents at length the differing real-life paths to viable statehood, including a variety of approaches to democracy as well as reliance on ‘undemocratic’ institutions. Undemocratic Western institutions such as the U.S. Supreme Court and the European Union are valued for the long-term perspectives they afford, their reliance on technical specialists to deal with complex situations and the discipline they exert through periods of short-term pain. In other words, they provide the kind of stability that a Middle East settlement will require!
Want more thought-provoking data on the link between viable statehood/citizenship and peace? The Fund for Peace (www.fundforpeace.org ) and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (www.carnegieendowment.org ) jointly produce an annual score card on national well-being based on 12 social, economic, political and military indicators. Included in the bottom 20 are Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, North Korea, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka. We would be hard-pressed to image the West Bank and Gaza not being on this list if they had been scored as a nation, even perhaps if combined with Israel.
Connections between these failed/failing states and peace-less strife are well known. For in depth data and analyses on how failed states not only fail their citizens but also threaten the security and well-being of neighboring nations and endanger the globe, visit the Earth Policy Institute (www.earthpolicy.org ).
It should be clear that peace is more than the absence of conflict. Peace demands of us more than being forgiving, showing compassion and a willingness to reconcile. Peace also depends upon access to personal and family well-being (food, shelter, health care, education and productive, sustaining work/income); to civic, national and global stability and security; and to the benefits of liberty and justice. These are the conditions that must be available mutually to Israelis and Palestinians for peace to take hold. And they must become available also as rights, not simply as rewards.
Acts of forgiving, compassion and reconciliation emanating from peacemaking in the Middle East, should produce a dense, crazy-quilt pattern: multitudes of us in dialogue and education, mediation and demonstration, lobbying and cajoling; strategists and diplomats probing, testing and persuading in search of consensus; officials meditating, agonizing with their selves and peers and consulting their histories, futures and common well-being. All of this to reach a settlement on the ground and, over time, to secure the peace by relieving the strains of separation, healing the wounds of former indignities and perhaps even deconstructing physical barriers to movement, freedom and family-life. And, yes, in the process for all of us to find our capacity to take responsibility, to confess our contribution to the present conflict.
Fortunately, the present time is full with potential for peacemaking! One only has to track carefully current events concerning the Middle East. Now is an opportune time to engage in the activities of peacemaking: to help create the crazy-quilt.
Our Focus preparing, reporting and evaluating new solutions to conflicts
The Torah The Koran The Bible
The Nobel Peace Laureate Center’s ( NPLC-Wholistic Peace Institute)
Summer Institute of Peace
The Summer Institute of Peace Is the Program of the International Peace Center Being Developed
Wednesday, September 9, 2009, 6 PM Dinner
Thursday, September 10, 2009, 9AM to 5 PM at Concordia University; New Library
“Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”
“Fresh Ideas to Bring Peace to the Middle East Conflict”
Submit A 50-100 Word Abstract-Deadline July 21st; Full Paper (5 pages)-Deadline August 21st For Inclusion Into The Conference Papers and For Presentation on September 10th; Send Abstracts to Gary Alan Spanovich, Conference Director,
Keynote Speakers from Israel and the Middle East Mr. Aziz Aha Sarah (Palestinian) & Mr. Rami Elhanan (Israeli) of the Bereaved Families Supporting Reconciliation & Peace
Wednesday, September 10th, Dinner, 6:30 PM: $100; Dinner-Entertainment-Award of the Nobel Peace Laureate Center’s Abrahamic Prize For Peace; Dinner in The New Library, Concordia University, 2811 NE Holman Street, Portland, Oregon 97211; Please Send Check to WPI; PO BOX 1067, Canby, Oregon 97013
Thursday, September 11th, 9am to 5pm (8-9am Registration)
Concordia University; 2811 NE Holman Street, Portland, Oregon
FREE for Full Time Students (ID req.); FREE for Institute Members
$75 General Public; RSVP for Members & Students to:
Checks for non-members to WPI; PO BOX 1067, Canby, Oregon 97013
The Conference Will Teach On
How Religion Can End Wars -Inter-Faith Issues in the Middle East-A Nobel Peace Laureate Action Plan for the Middle East-The Bereaved Family Network in Israel & Palestine and How They Are Making a Difference -The Importance of Creating a Viable and Sustainable Economy in Israel-Palestine
Mr. Rami Elhanan & Mr. Aziz Aha Sarah, from Israel; Dr. Catherine Thomasson, MD, Chair of Board, PSR-Won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize)
Dr. Michael A. Thomas, Professor, Concordia University; Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, (NPLC); Mr. Tom Krattenmaker, Religion Author; Lewis & Clark
Dr. Claude Pomerleau, CSC, University of Portland & President (NPLC); Gary Alan Spanovich, Executive Director, (NPLC)
Dr. Harry Anastasiou, Portland State University; Mr. Robert Wise, Economic Advisor to the Government of Taiwan; Mr. John Dickson, WTC
Dr. Rob Gould, Chair, Conflict Resolution Department, Portland State University; Dr. Aziz Sadat, Advisor to the Government of Afghanistan
Oregon Department of Education, Continuing Education Credits Available
Funded by a Jubitz Family Foundation Grant
Religion can help end wars, too
Faith is sometimes the fuel that feeds conflict and spreads strife. History is a witness to this. But lest we forget, believers also can be the salve to bring people and religions back together.
By Tom Krattenmaker, Author; Vice President of Communications, Lewis & Clark College
Tom Krattenmaker, who lives in Portland, Ore., specializes in religion in public life and is a member of USA Today’s board of contributors. He is working on a book about Christianity in professional sports. Posted at 12:16 AM/ET, July 14, 2008 in Forum commentary, Krattenmaker, On religion column | Permalink
Karl Marx famously called religion the opiate of the masses. My political philosopher friend says Marx was wrong. Religion isn't like heroin so much as meth, my friend says — something that can whip us into a jagged frenzy, put our teeth on edge, make us agitated, even violent.
The specter of violent religion certainly hangs over us in these times, especially when it comes to certain followers of the world's two dominant religions. Christian and Muslim conflict-mongers drone on against "Islamic terrorists" and "Christian infidels," respectively, while violence continues erupting in the name of Islam, and conservative Christian figures in America, like Pat Robertson and John Hagee, urge violent solutions to foreign policy problems. (Robertson, you'll recall, spoke favorably of assassinating Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Hagee, the Texas mega-church minister of falling-out-with-John McCain fame, has repeatedly called for immediate military attacks against Iran.)
Yes, there appears to be considerable truth to the oft-heard claim that Christian-Muslim co-existence must be achieved lest our collective future turn out brief and brutal. Which is why it might appear outrageous to suggest, as I'm about to do, that religion may also be just the catalyst we need to steer us clear of the apparent collision course.
Religion — a solution to the problem of religiously motivated conflict and violence? Yes, actually. Because in their best traditions, the world's two dominant faiths do promote peace, both through their central teachings and the lessons-by-example taught every day by innumerable Muslims and Christians who take their scriptures seriously.
Plays for peace
The crux of the matter might have been articulated best by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, who once joked that religion was "a powerful healing force in a world torn apart — by religion." Regarding the first part of his joke, we could debate forever whether it's truly religion that causes "religious" violence, as opposed to bigotry, culture, politics and the like. But the "healing" part seems incontrovertible in view of recent evidence. Not that peace-waging is religion's exclusive province; secularists are among the leading agents of peaceful change in the world today. But seemingly everywhere one looks, agents of religion — even, shockingly, onetime supporters of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden — are making plays for peace.
Yes, even "jihadists" who once supported bin Laden and his destructively sinister ideology. New reports in The New Republic and New Yorker detail how some key figures in the rise of Islamist terrorism are defecting from al-Qaeda and its affiliates and rejecting the movement's violent methodology. In the words of one such defector — a man known as "Dr. Fadl" and credited with laying the intellectual foundation for al-Qaeda-style terrorism — Muslims "are prohibited from committing aggression, even if the enemies of Islam do that."
It's hard to imagine a more head-turning example of religion righting the deadly wrongs of religion. But in scope and impact, the al-Qaeda defections are easily topped by the encouraging "A Common Word Between Us and You" initiative.
This olive branch to the Christian world comes from a collection of 138 Muslim scholars representing the major branches of Islam. Citing crucial teachings shared by the Koran and Bible (as in devotion to God and love of one's neighbor), the Muslim leaders invited Christendom to join them in interfaith dialogue. In this country, some high-profile conservative Christians rebuffed the peace offering, calling it unacceptable for its refusal to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus, but hundreds of other Christian leaders returned the hand of friendship via a published statement called "Loving God and Neighbor Together."
Starting the conversation
As the humanitarian Greg Mortenson conveys through the title of his best-selling book Three Cups of Tea, the sharing of food and beverage can be a great dialogue-starter. I recently had the privilege of drinking tea with Mortenson, the leader of an initiative that has built dozens of schools in impoverished mountain regions of the Muslim world. This is peace-making at its finest, not only because of the enlightening benefits of education but because Mortenson is showing what a difference it can make when American Christians, like him, venture to the Middle East with books rather than bombs.
"They will know you by your love," Mortenson told me, echoing a line from Jesus in the New Testament. He went on to explain the religious motivation behind his highly idealistic (and often dangerous) quest to build schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. "I feel that faith should be more about practice — about action, love and compassion — than about preaching or proselytizing," he said. "I feel our faith should be about helping the widows, orphans and refugees — the 'least of these' — as the holy books implore us to do." A starving Muslim widow in Darfur, Mortenson added, is just as worthy in the eyes of God as a church-going American suburbanite.
These peace-promoting cases in point are but a few in a rising sea of examples. To them we could add the Vatican's unwavering stance against the Iraq war; the work of groups like the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, which brings together young people of different faiths to promote inter-religious respect and understanding; efforts by Christian groups like World Vision to provide relief to tsunami victims in predominantly Muslim countries in South Asia; the growing number of evangelical Christians in America calling for a truce in the culture wars; and many, many more.
Mortenson points out something true that's been lost amid the decade's highly publicized conflicts over faith: The established religions have generally been a clarion for peace, not war. Don't forget that in 2002, after the 9/11 attacks and before the invasion of Iraq, Christian leaders from a broad swath of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches spoke out against the threatened invasion of Iraq.
Violence and world history
No, we cannot lightly dismiss the long history of religion marshaled for violent ends. In Christianity, there are plenty who emphasize not the peace-teaching in the Bible but the apocalyptic violence of the Book of Revelation and the Jesus who confronted the money-changers in the temple with a rough hand. There is history, too. As demonstrated by James Carroll's powerful and dark new documentary, Constantine's Sword, Christians over the centuries have too often wielded religion as a lethal weapon. Today that dubious distinction is most strongly associated with violent extremists from the Muslim world, who invoke Islam in terrorist strikes that have killed many thousands of innocents (in violation of crucial Koranic teachings). Judaism, too, has had its spasms of violence, as have other major faiths and sects.
Yet if skeptics are going to hold religion accountable for the atrocities committed under the banners of faith, so, too, must they credit religion for the unifying and uplifting deeds performed in its name. We cannot dismiss the countless acts of compassion and peace-making by devout believers — acts that are central to the teachings of the Bible, Koran and other holy books.
So how we will know religion in the final analysis? By its peace or by its violence? The scriptures have had their say. It's now up to the believers — through their words and works — to settle the account.
A History of the Wholistic Peace Institute: A Ten Year Report Card
1999; Rabbi Stampfer and Gary Alan Spanovich, started working on the Garden of Forgiveness began the discussion to start the Institute;
2000; Rabbi, Gary, Fr. Tom, Abbot Joe, Senator Hatfield, others begin planning the Dalai Lama’s visit and the first Nobel Peace Laureate conference;
May 15, 2001; first World Peace Conference at PSU, 6 Nobel Peace Laureates; Senator Hatfield and Rev Morrissey co-facilitated; the theme was “how to bring compassion into government”;
2002: Formation of the WPI; January 21, 2003, non-profit papers filed with the Secretary of State, Oregon; March 8, 2004, IRS 501c3 status given and back dated to January 21, 2003 by the IRS;
During this time the WPI has had:
WPI Board meetings held: November 2, 2002 First meeting; 27 meetings held
World Peace Journal: Spring, 2004 to Spring, 2009: we have published 20 issues
Annual Wholistic Peace Institute Peace Prize-normally $1000 prize
2005: Rev Phillip Buck; 2006: Rabbi Arik Ascherman; 2007: Universal Peace Federation; 2008: Former President & 2000 Nobel Peace Prizewinner Kim Dae Jung
World Peace Lunches: Monthly; First Lunch: October, 2003, Geshe Kelsang Damdul was our speaker; 68 lunches with 68 different speakers who spoke on world peace have been held
WPI Advisory Group: up to 50 members now
Rabbi Stampfer; First Chair
Steve Goss, our attorney, Second Chair
Johnell Bell, Current Chair
Trips by Executive Director, as a speaker for the WPI at international conferences, or related to world peace projects, funded by a number of international NGO’s or benefactors
International: Approximately 15
Including: North Korea; Afghanistan; India; Israel; South Korea (many times); Turkey; China
Domestic, mostly New York and DC: Approximately 6
Gave a speech at the United Nations
Working Meetings with Nobel Peace Laureates; 8 directly; 10 correspondence
Kim Dae Jung; Dalai Lama; Amnesty; PSR; Adolfo Perez Esquivel; Oscar Arias; Rigaberta Menchu Tum; Lech Walesa
In Depth “reviews and critiques”
The most famous Islamic site in Jerusalem is the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as-Sakhrah). An impressive and beautiful edifice, the Dome of the Rock can be seen from all over Jerusalem. It is the crowning glory of the Haram es-Sharif ("Noble Sanctuary"), or Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is not a mosque, but a Muslim shrine. Like the Ka'ba in Mecca, it is built over a sacred stone. This stone is believed to be the place from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven during his Night Journey to heaven. The Dome of the Rock is the oldest Islamic monument that stands today and certainly one of the most beautiful. It also boasts the oldest surviving mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca) in the world. Jews believed, and still believe, the rock to be the very place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac. In addition, the Dome of the Rock is believed by many to stand directly over the site of the Holy of Holies of both Solomon's Temple and Herod's Temple. The Dome of the Rock was built by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik from 688 to 691 AD. In the Middle Ages, Christians and Muslims both believed the dome to be the biblical Temple of Solomon. (From Wikipedia)
Jerusalem, a symbol of conflict for centuries, which Islam, Christianity and Judaism can also be an apt symbol for the present opportunity, to make a “pillar for the future of this century”, as suggested by King Abdullah Il bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman; Rabbis for Human Rights; Jerusalem, Israel
& Winner of the Institute’s 2006 Peace Prize
We all know that Pesakh is a time where Jews traditionally clean their homes of khametz (leavened grain products) and that many speak of cleaning our souls of khametz as well. Many traditional sources draw a link between the swelling that takes place as part of the leavening process, and the exaggerated pride and self importance which becomes arrogance. This may seem like a personal, introspective thought more appropriate for the High Holy Days than for Pesakh`s emphasis on the collective. However, it can certainly be applied on a national, collective basis as well. In fact, nationalism itself all too often takes on an extremely chauvinistic tone. Each of you, wherever these Pesakh thoughts reach you, can apply this to the various collectives of which you are a part. Where does healthy pride and self-respect end, and where does arrogance begin? In the words of the seminal sociologist of racism, Gordon Allport, when do in-groups create out-groups? I will offer a few thoughts in the Israeli context.
We Israelis tend to believe that the laws that apply to the rest of the world don’t apply to us. As the Tamir commission worked to create the Israeli Wisconsin Plan, we often suggested that more attention be paid to studies conducted on similar programs around the world. These studies indicated that very few programs actually reduced unemployment, and almost all of them increased poverty. I have no doubt that many of the preeminent scholars on the commission were familiar with the studies, but almost nobody on the commission was willing to explain how these studies impacted on the Israeli plan. It was as if these studies simply didn’t apply to us. (For some bureaucrats, ideologues and those who saw their narrow self interests served by reducing the welfare roles, increasing employment was never the goal.)
Most Israelis truly believe that we have the most moral army in the world. Looking at armies around the world, it may be true that few would do as well ours were they to be facing the situations that the Israeli army faces. However, that is cold comfort given what ought to be our demand that the Israeli army live up to the higher standard mandated by the Jewish Tradition as we understand it. Furthermore, given the evil inherent in warfare, we must do more to avoid the situations in which the Israeli army, or any other army, must put its morality to the test. While I have very serious concerns about the conduct of the Israeli army in the recent Gaza War, and no illusions about the morality of some of those we face, I first ask whether we could have avoided the renewal of rockets on Sderot that precipitated the war. As I have written previously, few Israelis are aware of the connection between the mood in Gaza and our failure to uphold our commitments in the June cease fire agreement to open up the border crossings and let in essential goods. What would have happened if Gazan civilians had more of their basic humanitarian needs met and saw that Israel could be trusted to abide by agreements? What would have happened had we spoken to Hamas? What would have happened had we taken more decisive steps to ending the Occupation? We might have found ourselves in exactly the same position, but I suspect not.
The insistent, blind and arrogant belief that we have the most moral army in the world has become sop to our conscience insuring that we will not have the most moral army in the world. By internalizing a response to an often hostile international community, we have both absolved ourselves of the vigilance necessary to maintain our own standards and given ourselves an excuse to ignore international standards. One reason for an independent State inquiry into what happened in Gaza is to remove the khametz of arrogance from our collective consciousness. Even as we all pray that our worst suspicions are unfounded, an inquiry forces us to admit the possibility that our children might have committed acts which contradict what the vast majority of Israelis want to believe of ourselves. Admitting that it is possible is the first step to making sure that it not be possible.
One of the most painful moments in my life was the moment that I realized that I could no longer say "We have the most moral army in the world." I want to be able to say those words. I don’t know enough about other armies to say whether we are less moral. Leaving comparisons aside, I simply can not ignore the mounting evidence that the Israeli army co-opted its own legal department and the ethicists to justify what it wanted to do in the name of protecting our soldiers, even as the Army Rabbinate distributed pamphlets encouraging akhzariut (cruelty). There is no consensus, even within RHR, as to what happened in the Gaza War. That is another one of the reasons we join our fellow Israeli human rights organizations in calling for an independent State inquiry not in the hands of the army. However, we must face our own pain to free ourselves from the chains that enslave our minds and prevent us from actualizing our own most deeply cherished beliefs and desires.
In Israel, the khametz of arrogance leads us to oppress our fellow Israeli Jews because we are the Jewish State protecting world Jewry from oppression and can make programs work here that have not worked elsewhere. We can turn Sudanese refugees back at the borders because we who suffered from closed borders could not possibly be responsible for doing to others what was done to us. We can legally expropriate land, evict people from their homes and demolish the homes of others because our legal system would not allow a contradiction between the legal and the ethical, and we have nothing to learn from international law used by a hostile world to attack us. We can fight wars without betraying our own values because we have the most moral army in the world.
Author of Freedom, help us on this Holiday of Freedom to rid ourselves of the khametz of arrogance that enslaves our personal and collective conscious in so many spheres. In so doing, may we be freed to be Your partners in building the world You would have us create.
Pesakh Sameakh V`Kasher
Book Review on The Just War Myth. The Moral Illusions of War
Fr. Claude Pomerleau, Ph.D., CSC
Professor of International Relations; Uganda Martyrs University, East Africa School of Diplomacy and International Relations & University of Portland
The Just War Myth. The Moral Illusions of Ward; By Andrew Fiala Lanham, MD: Rowman& Littlefield, 2008; 213 pages, paper
Introduction to an illusion
The author of this pertinent review of the history and meaning of the just war tradition (JWT) offers the reader an easily accessible framework for understanding a pervasive and dangerous illusion. This dangerous illusion consists in believing that most wars in which the United States has engaged since becoming a world power have been just wars. This illusion results in part from a misunderstanding of the nature of modern war and in part from a simplistic reading of the JWT. Such misunderstanding and simplifications can be applied to all of the major wars of the 20th century. Why did this happen and who has been responsible for this?
Fiala address this problem through a careful reexamination of this tradition, and by asking the reader to consider why and how the JWT has become an unquestioned instrument for policy makers and philosophers alike, and a convenient rationale for realists of all stripes to justify any and all wartime policies, however immoral and irrational they may be. The author does not claim that as a result the JWT is erroneous or irrelevant. That would be foolish, and he is anything but foolish. Rather, he claims that the tradition has been badly misunderstood and repeatedly exploited. So why have so many persons interpreted the JWT so differently, so loosely? Why does Fiala propose a different interpretation? Because -- as he suggests throughout this book --we now know better.
After a careful examination of the historical origins of the JWT and its modern context, Fiala concludes that this otherwise useful tradition has been grossly distorted into a dangerous myth, a myth that reinforces several other dangerous myths, such as the sacredness of the state and American exceptionalism.
Myths -- especially complex ones like that of a just war – should allow us to make sense of our most difficult public policies and to evaluate our actions within an ethical framework As Fiala points out, the JWT is a well-established tradition that traces its most recent and relevant formulation all the way back to the theological writings of Augustine, Ambrose, Aquinas and Suarez, to mention only the leading authorities in this area. Latin was the language of these philosophers and theologians and is still quaintly used today. Contemporary social scientists may have updated Latin terminology for rethinking conditions for a just war (jus ad pacem, jus ad interventionism, etc.)but they have not sufficiently revised the context for war(9 – 10). The entire mystical medieval language of living and dying for the fatherland is as outmoded as are the myths defending slavery, the inferiority of women, or that national policies derive their legitimacy from a divine promise. Even Bartolomé de lasCasas, in the 16th century knew better than that. When arguing with the learned academics of Spanish universities, he emphatically condemned the abuses of the Spanish invaders and insisted that their powers and the power of the King derived from the people and not from God.
Fiala will insist throughout the book (and here he depends on the substantial and persuasive publications of John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas) that the just war theory may still be a useful -- and maybe even a necessary -- tool for judging modern conflicts, but “our presumption should be that war is wrong based on a stringent and restrictive reading of the just war principles” (175).
A useful analogy
Fiala argues that his otherwise stringent reading of the JWT might just as well be called just war pacifism (162). In order to understand how he arrives at this conclusion, we can examine a related myth, that we have established a just and effective prison system. One can argue, as most persons do, that prisons can serve a useful purpose when they effectively protect society through punishment, restitution and rehabilitation. Societies need to protect themselves from criminals by punishing and requiring restitution. They then express a basic ethical principle by expecting rehabilitation. However, the mere possibility of an effective prison system does not mean that all prisons are just, or effective, and achieve rehabilitation. Most are not, and do not. The myth that prisons effectively protect society from predators and lead to restitution and rehabilitation, is a myth, and a very expensive myth at that. With few exceptions, prisons have become structures of violence and breeding grounds for criminals. This may explain why capital punishment, the ultimate act of barbarity, has become so extensive and accepted by so many in American societies.
Similarly, Fiala argues that political communities have a right to defend themselves from criminal attacks and states have the obligation to protect against enemies that threaten the common good. In such circumstances and after legal recourse has been exhausted, the use of force can be justified. However, when we look at the major examples of modern war, the author believes that these wars have been called “just” through a misapplication of this tradition. He argues that the just war theory should be used as a tool for judging the morality of war, but when this is done honestly, “there is no reason to believe that any real war is actually just” (11) How does he come to this conclusion? By a summary but adequate survey of recent wars that are so-called “just”.
Illusions we love to live by
Fiala examines a selected number of myths that have become an accepted part of foreign policy instruments of the great powers. Among such strategies are torture and state-sponsored terrorism, preemptive war and humanitarian intervention. In the United State, these myths have been nurtured in the rich soil of exceptionalism. The United States, through its geostrategic experience and foundational religious myths, has developed its own ideology called “American exceptionalism. Fiala calls this a “mythological construction of national values” (60). Such a mythological self-image has allowed policy makers to fall into a dangerous pattern of self-deception. Of such self-deception comes the recent decision to invade Iraq. Such interventions easily violate the most basic ethical principles on which the United States was founded as well as the basic principles of national realism, not to mention of international legal agreements to which we subscribe. Under the guise of exceptionalism, American leaders have justified the most egregious violations of international law as essential for national security. American politicians have behaved like students of Machiavelli while justifying their policies in idealistic and religious terms. The United States acts like any other great power while claiming to defend these policies as essential for a peaceful and democratic world.
The seductions of torture and state terrorism
Perhaps no area of policy making has been more seriously distorted by the United States than that of terrorism and torture. Although torture and terrorism have been used by all modern armies, Fiala selectively looks at a random sampling of these actions and related arguments to justify barbaric behavior, mostly from World War II and from the Palestine-Israeli, and United States- Afghanistan-Iraq conflicts.
The most powerful and systematic practice of torture within the American context probably begins with its propagation by French operatives from the Algerian war. French officers developed a regime of torture for the purpose of keeping Algeria as part of the French Republic. After Algeria gained its independence, many of these torturers fled to Argentina and to other Latin American nations. The rationale for torture as an instrument of national security was then filtered through the School of the Americas, and eventually reached American forces in Vietnam. American soldiers subsequently evolved their own strategies for torture. Although experts will argue authoritatively over the relative ethical significance of torture as terroristic, punitive, or interrogative, (102), the average soldier in the field does not make such distinctions.
There’s a significant body of religious and secular writings that challenges all forms of torture as morally evil and politically counterproductive. Fiala is willing to grant that there might be exceptions to the prohibition against torture, even in a doomsday scenario, but the presumption should be against the use of terrorism and torture, even in a doomsday scenario (115). Nonetheless, those who
defend torture, continue to do so with outmoded metaphors, like the ticking-bomb scenario or the fat-man analogy. It is customary to say that war is hell, and that wars cannot be won with clean hands. However, there is a heavy price to pay when human rights are officially and systematically violated, even the rights of enemy combatants.
The recent reissue of the 1970s documentary “Winter Soldier” shows the damage done to American soldiers who systematically engaged in torture. These soldiers admitted to burning villages with civilians, cutting off the ears of the enemy, calling in artillery on villages suspected of hiding “gooks”, killing wounded prisoners, beheadings, placing heads on pikes to terrorize villages, ears traded for beers, ritual disembowelments, rapes, and the murder of children and the elderly. In light of these abuses, it is all the more shocking to learn that the Bush administration formally sanctioned forms of torture that are prohibited by the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment. This convention was supported by 130 countries, including the United States. One has to wonder whether any ethical standards will hold when fear rather than law becomes the basis of foreign policy.
Underlying Fiala’s discussion of the JWT throughout this book is a polemic against the modern blasphemy of divinizing the state. Indeed, Fiala is not far from lasCasas when he argues that governments get their legitimacy by representing the shared responsibility of their citizens and not by divine will of Kings. Within a modern context where political legitimacy is supposedly based on elections, it is an accepted fact that when a chief of state wages war in which torture or state terrorism is a sanctioned strategy, such policies are done in the name of all its citizens. As Fiala convincingly argues, 20thcentury warriors and their defenders have easily justified a wide range of violations against international laws and accepted human rights as codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even if these wars are fought for the highest ideals, or for significant geostrategic reasons, one has to justify through representative institutions. To my knowledge, no one bothered to survey the Iraqis to see if they wanted to be governed by the military of an invader, and no one surveyed the Algerians to see if they wanted to live under the civilizing values of the French, or the Vietnamese if they wanted to live under the blessings of American democracy.
Fiala has put together a thoughtful analysis of some of the most destructive modern myths about the sanctity of warfare. It deserves a wide and careful reading.
In General building and nurturing the conditions of peace
The Nobel Peace Laureate Center is also working in India for the upliftment of the Tibetan Refugee Camps and is sponsoring two Rotary Action Grants; one for a Micro Loan Program and one for a Ambulance Vehicle
Rotary Club of Dharamsala, India, District 3070
Rotary Club of Portland (Oregon), District 5100
Central Tibetan Administration
Rotarian Action Group for Microcredit
Wholistic Peace Institute
Since 1959 countless Tibetans have left their native land and become refugees. Neighboring India granted permanent asylum to the Tibetan Government in exile (known as the Central Tibetan Administration) to establish a community in Dharamsala India, but is not able to accommodate all the refugees. Consequently, many Tibetans have relocated outside the region, primarily the U.S. and other developed countries, and have assimilated into local culture, with much of their native culture and language lost. Some refugees have settled in the surrounding region, in Nepal, Bhutan, and in other regions of India, forming agricultural settlements, which retain native Tibetan practices, language, and culture. Currently fifty-four Tibetan refugee agricultural settlements exist in these regions. Because these settlements represent the last indigenous communities for the Tibetan people, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) considers the welfare of these communities essential, since they preserve an otherwise vanishing Tibetan culture.
In keeping with their cultural practices, these settlements have formed agricultural Cooperative Societies to more efficiently purchase raw materials and equipment, and market finished goods (corn, cotton, rice, milled, mustard seed, apples, kiwi, diary, as well as traditional woven rugs). While some communities are thriving, others are hampered by a lack of capital to achieve full self-sufficiency. Without adequate capital, these communities rely on middlemen who take much of the profit, leaving these communities unable to rise above subsistence level.
The Rotary Club of Dharamsala, India, whose membership includes members of the CTA, proposes the use of Micro-Enterprise loans to select Cooperative Societies to assist them to achieve self-sufficiency, enhancing the development and living conditions for the communities, to ensure the successful retention of native culture among current settlement inhabitants, and future generations.
In The Know “organizations, literature, tools, study programs and activities”
Peace comes in many forms and many ways. There is “inner peace” the peace we find in meditation or from the “act of compassion” or “outer peace” all the ways we can become non-violent peacemakers. For a “peacemaker” is one who has the capacity to love both sides in a conflict, realizing that each side has forgotten how to love the other side, and in “bringing peace” to the situation, has begun to get each side to love the other, again.
Sometimes there is a tendency for those in the peace movement to make judgments about others, say judging who should be labeled peacemakers and who should not. I had the opportunity to attend the Miss Universe Pageant in Vietnam, in July, 2008 where I was involved in tutoring Ms. South Korea for the Pageant on questions and answers related to international issues. The three contestants above, from left to right: Ms. Australia, 2008-Laura Dundovic; Ms. South Korea 2008-Ms. Sun Lee; and Ms. New Zealand 2008-Samantha Powell; were all interested in the “Peace Schools” which the Institute is preparing to build in Hyderabad, India. We were involved in the building of a school near Eluru, AP, India in 1995 with Rotary, the service club.
Each of these young women expressed interest in traveling on a “peace mission” to raise awareness and funds for the Institute’s vision of building “peace schools” in India, Afghanistan, Uganda, Vietnam, and Cambodia. I was also able to meet with the President of the Miss Universe Pageant in Vietnam who also supported the idea of giving some teeth to the oft quoted phrase of “world peace”. We must always support all of us, working for world peace, human rights and most importantly creating the conditions of peace in the schools of the world. We have to take the responsibility to “draw linkages” between the most diverse elements of the world, for it will take all of us, working all the time, together to achieve our goal of world peace.