Visions of Peace and Human Rights

"It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."

Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves.  Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, a gentle stirring of life and hope.  Some will say that this hope lies in a nation; others in a person.  I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history.  As a result, there shines forth fleeting the ever-threatened truth that each and every person, on the foundation of his or her own sufferings and joys, builds for all.

The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs; Protestants and Catholics; Muslims, Croats, and Serbs.  The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists.

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

Human rights are not a privilege granted by the few, they are a liberty entitled to all, and human rights, by definition, include the rights of all humans, those in the dawn of life, the dusk of life, or the shadows of life.

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.  Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.


Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

Each of us can work to change a small portion of events and in the total of those acts will be written the history of this generation.  Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other form a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

For many of us, we are always wanting more – we would be happier if we had such and such.  Maybe we should pause for a moment and hear what some people in the third world countries would like to make them happier.  1. Having enough to eat so when you go to sleep at night your stomach doesn’t ache.  2. Having shoes on your feet and any kind of clothing to keep the cold out.  3. Having a roof over your head.  4. Having the hope that you’ll be lucky enough to get some kind of an education.  5. Believing that the dream of freedom, brotherhood, and peace for all mankind will someday come true.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent.  Do you see why it is violent?  Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind.  When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence.  So a man who is trying to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.

The Art of Peace is not easy.  It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within.  On occasion the Voice of Peace resounds like thunder, jolting human beings out of their stupor.  The world will continue to change dramatically, but fighting and war can destroy us utterly.  What we need now are techniques of harmony, not those of contention.  The Art of Peace is required, not the Art of War.

It is essential to know that to be a happy person, a happy family, a happy society, it is very crucial to have a good heart, that is very crucial.  World peace must develop from inner peace.  Peace is not just the absence of violence but the manifestation of human compassion.

Peace is not the product of a victory or a 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.

Peace is: to live, to love, to learn, and leave a legacy with balance and joy.  Peace is: cooperation rather than competition, to become part of a synergistic, living whole.  Peace is:  the development of our human endowments that empower us with character and competence in the moment of choice.  Peace is: learning to listen and live by conscience.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

We can gain no lasting peace if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust and fear.  We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding, the confidence, and the courage which flow from conviction.

Living out a witness to peace has to do with everyday choices about the work we do, the relationships we build, what part we take in politics, what we buy, how we raise our children.  It is a matter of fostering relationships and structures – from personal to international – which are strong and healthy enough to contain conflict when it arises and allow its creative resolution.

Unless we teach children peace, someone else will teach them violence.

Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.

Engaging in honest dialogue is not an act of surrender; it is an act of strength and common sense.

Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures, peace is our gift to each other.

People think non-violence is really weak and non-militant.  These are misconceptions that people have because they don’t understand what non-violence means.  Non-violence takes more guts, if I can put it bluntly, than violence.  Most violent acts are accomplished by getting the opponent off guard, and it doesn’t take that much character, I think, if one wants to do it.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

The easiest kind of relationship is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one.

Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime.

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

Be fearless and pure; never waver in your determination or your dedication to the spiritual life.  Give freely.  Be self-controlled, sincere, truthful, loving and full of the desire to serve….Learn to be detached and to take joy in renunciation.  Do not get angry or harm any living creature, but be compassionate and gentle; show good will to all.  Cultivate vigor, patience, will, purity; avoid malice and pride.  Then, you will achieve your destiny.

The Holy Prophet Mohammed came into this world and taught us:  “That man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but who works for the benefit and happiness of God’s creatures.  Belief in God is to love one’s fellow men.”

Shall I tell you what acts are better than fasting, charity and prayers?  Making peace between enemies are such acts; for enmity and malice tear up the heavenly rewards by the roots.

Forgive do I creatures all, and let all creatures forgive me.  Unto all have I amity, and onto none enmity.  Know that violence is the root cause of all miseries in the world.  Violence, in fact, is the knot of bondage.  “Do not injure any living being.”  This is the eternal, perennial, and unalterable way of spiritual life.  A weapon, howsoever powerful it may be, can always be superseded by a superior one; but no weapon can, however, be superior to non-violence and love.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.  O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned...