Speech Dr. Mansukh Patel
co founder World Peace Flame Initiative
At the inauguration of the World Peace Flame Pathway, The Hague
April 27th 2004
THE POWER OF PEACE
The building of this World Peace Pathway represents a landmark in our history. Every nation in the world, including the entire membership of the United Nations, have contributed to this Monument. In fact, one could say that the entire population of the earth is represented here. What has made possible this remarkable, if not unprecedented, display of unity and collaboration across the entire spectrum of humanity?
The power that arises when people work together is only now being recognised by humanity. No single person could have achieved the unity established by this Monument, yet acting together we have liberated a force that has attracted every country, without exception, to be represented here. The strength of our work as a whole has become far greater than the sum of our individual skills, talents and vision.
Can we learn how to duplicate this process at will? Can we learn how to replicate the conditions that create unity on a scale large enough to solve the vast problems that beset our world today such as climate change, war and poverty?
I believe that humanity is closer than it has ever been to harnessing this vast potential for change. The degree of unity we have witnessed today is no unexpected or accidental occurrence. I believe it is typical of a new paradigm towards unity and cooperation that is sweeping across the world. If we read between the news headlines it is apparent that people are more aware and concerned about the state of the rest of the world than ever before. The scientific establishment and even the military are feverishly lobbying governments to take action on climate change. Global corporations are introducing community volunteering programmes, meditation and personal development schemes at unprecedented rates. And in the past few years, more people have come forward to state their desire for peace than ever before in history.
The time is right for us to harness this force of human unity. In the process, I believe leaders of this course of action will discover a source of unlimited personal power.
What are the principles that govern our ability to achieve this goal?
The Power of Peacemaking
I believe it is essential we consider what we mean by ‘peace’. Is it merely the absence of its opposite, violence? We aim for a world in which nations can live harmoniously side-by-side, with equal opportunities and development available to all. However, if we seriously want this kind of world, we must turn a laser of self-scrutiny upon ourselves and ask why international peace negotiations rarely achieve lasting peace.
I believe that when we deeply understand what peace is, our actions arise from a state of inner conviction. Once the shell of negativity, prejudice, judgement and competitiveness are bypassed, this conviction lies like a pearl at the centre of every human being. External peace is the result of an inner culture. Angry people cannot negotiate peace. People who feel hatred cannot negotiate peace. Greed, ignorance, intolerance – all bar our way to peace.
If we really want to achieve a global peace that makes life on earth a valuable and rewarding experience, we must look closely at what brings out the highest qualities within us; such as honesty, integrity, non-judgement, compassion and kindness.
The human mind has proved itself to be capable of achieving great things, of taking us into space, of enabling us to stand on the moon and gaze back at our own beautiful planet. And perhaps if we could have been in Neil Armstrong’s shoes and seen our planet set like a jewel in the crown of the universe, it would be easier for us to entertain higher thoughts such as respect, gratitude and love for humanity. Every human being carries these highly-charged positive qualities, and they carry a power all of their own. In contrast, anger or hatred diminish the individual and family, eroding life wherever they occur. Empowered individuals need not manipulate anyone and their leadership becomes far-reaching, visionary and effective.
The ultimate question is, how can we access this power?
Firstly, let us consider our decision-making. Our decisions are based upon our judgements, yet when we make a negative judgement about a person or a nation we imprison them in a cage of limited perceptions, thus weakening the whole process of decision-making and denigrating ourselves. Decisions based on such negative judgements cannot create the best outcomes. When instead we honour and empower each other, all cultures and all nations, we bring peace both to ourselves and to others.
Secondly, it is our choices that carve out our destiny. A healthy society is created by self-empowered individuals making strong and self-responsible choices about how they want to live and express themselves. Every day we wake up and are challenged to stand up for what we believe in. Every day we are asked to be honest, upright and true, and not betray ourselves in our business dealings and decision-making. To stand firm to our truth requires integrity, honour and endurance.
Third, we can never operate harmoniously without an awareness of the greater whole, for as Gandhi said, no culture can survive if it attempts to be exclusive. When we are prepared to make our lives serve the larger community and not just ourselves, our separate, individual mind expands to encompass the greater, global mind, thus giving us access to the power of the whole. Einstein said our perception that we are separate from the whole was a kind of optical illusion of consciousness. When we make a commitment to serve the interests of the whole, we transcend that illusion and gain access to an almost unlimited power for good.
Fourth, we find that everyone who has harnessed this power has done so out of compassion and love. Gandhi maintained that love is the only remedy for hate and Thomas Merton said, ‘If you have love you will do all things well.’ Instead of craving political or military power, we must learn to crave the power of peace and service to the whole. This is not weak sentimentality. Gandhi, Martin Luther King and others described this power as an unconquerable and irresistible force that eventually transforms everyone it touches. Without it our ideologies are like parched, lifeless leaves blowing in the wind. With it, we access a force far greater than any weapon of mass destruction. It is a weapon that builds and does not destroy. This force of peace creates explosions that heal, bringing comfort and hope to all.
When we look through history, we find that understanding and harnessing the force of human unity on a massive scale is not an entirely new science on this earth. Gandhi used it like a virtuoso, and down through the ages great men and women like King, Einstein, Mother Teresa and others have gained sufficient personal power to accomplish huge transformations in society. And when we study their lives, we find that each of these people have stated that any one of us can achieve what they achieved, if we have the same faith, trust and commitment that they had.
Dare we, as individuals sitting here today, tear open our hearts on behalf of our children and reach out for the same strengths they reached out for? They too, often felt imperfect or inadequate for their tasks. Yet they changed history. Can we, each in our own way, also make an enduring contribution to the world?
Today, by this Monument, we have proved that we can.
My plea is to those individuals, whatever their role or achievements, who represent thousands or have influence over many. There is enough wealth and knowledge in our world to easily provide a peaceful and sustainable lifestyle for all. In the middle of last century, the Marshall Plan created friends out of enemies. By providing a world that works for all we would dispel the cause of terrorism in its many forms with a single stroke.
The stones we have laid around the World Peace Pathway are symbolic of our choice to build unity, respect, courage and honour. They will endure on earth longer than any of us, and we have the satisfaction of knowing that we are building a future based on our highest ideals for humanity. For this, I personally thank you for your immense contribution and dedication in making this project such a success.
At this time of global crisis, I believe we can use this historic World Peace Pathway as a catalyst to inspire us towards the possibilities that lie before us. We are witnessing a global paradigm shift towards unity and cooperation as never before. More than that, we are accelerating that shift and so redefining the future of our civilisation.