With respect to the families who have lost loved ones in violent conflicts and soldiers who risk their lives and who are forever traumatized by the horrors of war, I believe that we can never achieve peace through guns, bombs and fists. Weapons and violence begets only more weapons and violence. We must begin to look for ways to initiate and embody peace in the world. Only then can we prevent more blood being shed in the years to come.
That being said, may we look to the words of those saints who have gone before us (unto horrendous deaths even) to achieve peace and true freedom for all of humanity through non-violent means. Here are there reflections on freedom and peace. May we all find something to lean from them:
Reflections on Freedom
Aboriginal Activists Group, Queensland, 1970s
If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
Abraham Lincoln (attributed)
The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among human creatures.
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security
Janis Joplin “Me and Bobby McGee”
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to loose
Nothing, I mean nothing honey if it ain’t free, no no
C. Right Mills
Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them — and then, the opportunity to choose.
Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.
Liberty, taking the word in its concrete sense, consists in the ability to choose.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Reflections on Peace
All who affirm the use of violence admit it is only a means to achieve justice and peace. But peace and justice are nonviolence…the final end of history. Those who abandon nonviolence have no sense of history. Rather they are bypassing history, freezing history, betraying history.
David W. Brooks:
If we are going to stop wars on this earth, we are going to have to make war on hunger our number one priority.
Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.
HH the Dalai Lama:
Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.
If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed but hate these things in yourself, not in another.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
John F. Kennedy:
It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes. It can no longer be of concern to great powers alone. For a nuclear disaster, spread by winds and waters and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.
Martin Luther King, Jr.:
One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.
True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.
Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty.
We tend to think the problem is human beings have this natural tendency to kill, and yet in the middle of a hot war, WWII, a “good war,” as it were, the US army was astonished to learn that at least three out of every four riflemen who were trained to kill and commanded to kill, could not bring themselves to pull the trigger when they could see the person they were ordered to kill. And that inner resistance to violence is a well kept secret.