What People Say About Peace

Handout for "Perspectives on Peace" Lesson.
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What People Say About Peace

(Note: the attribution list is at the bottom of this page)

1. Those who cherish their freedom and recognize and respect the equal right of their neighbors to be free and live in peace must work together for the triumph of law and moral principles in order that peace, justice, and confidence may prevail in the world.

2. Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. . . this is not a way of life in any true sense.

3. To be free of bondage or restraint, to live under a government based on the consent of the citizens, these are basic among all freedoms. . . and this is the reason why a democracy is from every possible humane point of view the best form of government. . . What so many human beings in the modern world have failed to understand is that freedom is the greatest of all trusts.

4. We are all members of one family, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We know we shall find peace only where we find justice – only where we find respect for all human beings, only where all human beings have the right to a decent living for themselves and their families.

5. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

6. The broad ultimate requirements of survival. . . are in essence. . . global disarmament, both nuclear and conventional, and the invention of political means by which the world can peacefully settle the issues that throughout history it has settled by war.

7. We need an Academy of Peace, not to do away with conflict, but to learn and teach how to creatively manage conflict.

8. I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.

9. Mankind has grown strong in eternal struggle and it will perish through eternal peace.

10. Is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights – the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation – the right to breathe air as nature provided it – the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

11. The strength of the United States serves to protect the American people and helps preserve the peace. We need strength to deter attack, to support the causes of freedom, and to work for a peaceful world.

12. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

13. Think of what a world we could build if the power unleashed in war were applied to constructive tasks! One tenth of the energy that the various belligerents spent in the war, a fraction of the money they exploded in hand grenades and poison gas, would suffice to raise the standard of living in every country and avert the economic catastrophe of worldwide unemployment. We must be prepared to make the same heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace.

14. It is the enemy who can truly teach us to practice the virtues of compassion and tolerance.

15. Only when peace lives within each of us, will it live outside of us. We must be the wombs for a new harmony. When it is small, peace is fragile. Like a baby, it needs nurturing attention. We must protect peace from violence and perversion if it is to grow. We must be strong to do this. But force, even in the name of honor, is always tragic. Instead, we must use the strength of wisdom and conscience. Only that power can nurture peace in this difficult time.

16. Whatever may be the result, there is always in me a conscious struggle for following the law of nonviolence deliberately and ceaselessly. Such a struggle leaves one stronger for it. Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong. My experience, daily growing stronger and richer, tells me that there is not peace for individuals or for nations without practicing truth and nonviolence to the uttermost extent possible for 'man.'

17. My personal trials have also taught me the value of unmerited suffering. As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force.

18. Peace is not the product of a victory or command. It has no finishing line, no final deadline, no fixed definition of achievement. Peace is a never-ending process, the work of many decisions by many people in many countries. It is an attitude, a way of life, a way of solving problems and resolving conflicts. It cannot be forced on the smallest nation or enforced by the largest. it cannot ignore our differences or overlook our common interests. It requires us to work and live together.

19. My experience has been that the poor know violence more intimately than most people because it has been a part of their lives, whether the violence of the gun or the violence of want and need. I don't subscribe to the belief that nonviolence is cowardice. When people are involved in something constructive, trying to bring about change, they tend to be less violent than those who are not engaged in rebuilding or in anything creative. Non-violence forces one to be creative; it forces any leader to go to the people and get them involved so that they can come forth with new ideas.

20. I suggest our best metaphor for peace is an ancient one: the wrestling match. The Greeks visualized peace as a form of loving combat, a contest, or "agon" between well-matched and respectful opponents. They applied the word "agon" equally to a wrestling match or a verbal dialogue. Their highest vision was of a world in which the impulse to war might be gentled in an arena where men and women competed for glory. They thought of conflict as creative and strengthening so long as it was rule-governed.

Politics is a playing field. I see enemies facing each other honestly to further their legitimate interests and value systems.

21. From the break of day till sunset glow, I toil. I dig my well, I plow my field, and earn my food and drink. What care I who rules the land if I am left in peace?

22. 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.

23. Football is war's most apt metaphor. Football thinking prevails where diplomacy is abandoned: Team 1 vs. Team 2, defense vs. offense, winner vs. loser. Air strikes are likened to touchdowns. Borders are gridiron substitutes. Bunkers hold huddles underground. Generals are coaches and soldiers are players. We who watch on television are the cheerleaders. Pass the popcorn.

Rejecting war means rejecting the idea that someone has to win and someone has to lose. It means understanding that football is a game;that is no substitute for careful thinking and common sense with risky business at hand. Football is not war and war is not football.

Peace means imagining a way to work out differences through dialogue and negotiation. It means valuing other children as much as our own, citing casualties in one figure without distinguishing between nationalities. Peace is envisioning a solution to the unsolvable. It means thinking the unthinkable, that we might just call a halt, yesterday to war.


  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  2. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  3. Ashley Montagu
  4. Anonymous
  5. Martin Luther King Jr.
  6. Jonathan Schell
  7. Father Theodore Hesburgh
  8. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  9. Adolf Hitler
  10. John F. Kennedy
  11. Caspar Weinberger
  12. Martin Luther King Jr.
  13. Albert Einstein
  14. The Dalai Lama
  15. Deng Ming Dao
  16. M. K. Gandhi
  17. Martin Luther King Jr.
  18. Oscar Arias Sanchez
  19. Cesar Chavez
  20. Sam Keen
  21. Anonymous Chinese poet
  22. Oscar Romero
  23. Mary E. Hunt

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