I recently read the book We Speak as One: Twelve Nobel Laureates Share Their Vision for Peace, edited by Arthus Zajonc. You can read my full review of it here, but in summary it contained short biographies of and an imagined conversation (created by juxtaposing quotes from each individual in such a way that it could have been a conversation) between 12 of the Nobel Peace Prize winners. I found it quite inspiring to read their words and I would like to read more in-depth writings by each of them.
Each laureate has a strong hope and vision for a world at peace, and they each feel so sure that there is a better way than war and violence. Their words address many of the fundamental causes of war and violence and express the strong belief that our problems can ultimately only be solved peacefully. It was so encouraging to be reminded that I am not in fact a crazy liberal with wild, out-there ideas about how we could all live in peace, that peace is not just about hippis singing about living in harmony. It is a realistic and important vision and these laureates are people who have been widely recognized for their serious, on-the-ground work towards peace.
A few quotes (selected more or less randomly; pretty much everything they say is quotable):
We have somehow bought into this lie in the human mind that we have a right to kill each other, so we train people to go out there (which is totally against our human nature), and we train them to kill. This is wrong. We need to organize our societies on a new value that we can solve our problems without killing each other.
– Mairead Corrigan Maguire
When a country like the United States believes that it needs to control the resources, the power of the world, it denigrates other possible solutions because ‘nonviolent solution’ implies you sit down, you discuss. So you have to make people who think differently from you seem weak, you denigrate nonviolent solution, you denigrate multi-lateral discussions to resolve problems, you make peace really seem ridiculous and absurd. You conjure up the image that always makes me insane, of the butterflies and birds flying over the rainbow, proving that it’s a storybook image of peace. There’s nothing storybook about peace, it’s really hard work all the time…You get up and you struggle every day to make a difference in the world. That’s not utopian. I wish it were. I wish it were as easy as visualizing world peace. It isn’t. It’s finding ways to address the things that bother you.”
– Jody Williams
In my opinion, I feel that the safety of mankind begins in the community. We are not human beings alone; we hare human beings socially, spiritually, politically and economically, in concert with each other. I believe that it is through the community, the community of the family, the community of our villages, of our religious beliefs – this is what enables us to have security and to grow as persons. We cannot stay in the mind-set of ‘individualism.’
– Aldolfo Perez Esquivel
It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.
– Aung San Suu Kyi