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Archbishop Desmond TutuArchbishop Desmond Tutu on the idea of Ministries & Departments of Peace

What are your thoughts on the movement to establish Ministries and Departments of Peace in governments worldwide?

TUTU: It’s an extraordinary idea and, it fills one with a great deal of excitement and exhilaration, and it sounds crazy, but then I think it was crazy when Gandhi said we’re going to work so that eventually India is free. It must have been crazy when Martin Luther King Jr. also said we’re going to make civil rights a real issue in the United States, and maybe when Nelson Mandela and others said one day apartheid will be no more, that we need those like yourselves who dream dreams and say, “It is possible. It is possible for people to know that war is not natural.”

People have been able to live peacefully together, but if they live peacefully together after war, why should they have war first before they can realize that it is a great deal better. War is not nice to children, it’s not nice to people, it’s not nice to the environment.

And so I say go for it. This is marvellous. Go for it and really be crazy and say, one day we’ll ask, “Why were we so stupid for so long because of something so obvious?” Saying let us put our massive investment that we are putting right now in instruments of death and destruction, let us put them into something that is creative, that is life-enhancing teaching kids that there are ways of resolving differences that don’t need to be violent. You can sit down and ultimately say, “You know, actually, an enemy is a friend waiting to be made.”

Photo and interview by Mark Tompkins
For the Peace Alliance
At the Quest for Global Healing
May, 2006, Bali, Indonesia


The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche

“What took us so long?”

Years hence, when every country has a Ministry of Peace, people will look back and ask: ”What took us so long?” After all, we have a ministry for almost everything else: health, education and so on. How odd that, of all things, we have no ministries of peace. Peace is the key to accomplishing the rest.

Peace is the global imperative. The huge challenges we face will not be resolved through aggression. Aggression got us into this global crisis in the first place. Now, even the survival of the biosphere is under threat. We are not going to pull back from this catastrophe by using the very same mindset and methods that bought us to this brink. Nor is this a crisis we can resolve through good wishes alone. We need a coordinated global plan which will bring together the brightest minds, the best plans and the most gifted leadership. The backbone of that plan will be the Ministries of Peace.

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HH Dalai LamaA Message for Ministry for Peace UK from HH Dalai Lama

Until very recently, many people felt that disagreements and conflicts between nations and communities could only be resolved through war or the threat of force. Although everyone wishes to live in peace, we are often confused about how it can be achieved. Violence inevitably leads to more violence. It is not the solution – certainly not in the long term. Today, more and more people realise that the proper way of resolving differences is through dialogue, compromise and discussions, through human understanding and humility. There is a growing appreciation that genuine peace comes about through mutual understanding, respect and trust.

Nevertheless, I have no doubt that problems will continue to occur within human society. When they do, they should be solved in a humanitarian way, for which non-violence provides the proper approach. Terrorism, for example, cannot be overcome by the use of force because it does not address the complex underlying problems that give rise to it. In fact the use of force may not only fail to solve our problems, it may exacerbate them and frequently leaves destruction and suffering in its wake. Human conflicts should be resolved with compassion. The key, I repeat, is non-violence.

In the present global situation we need a well-thought-out, coordinated long-term strategy. It has never been more urgent, for example, that we seek a genuine determination to achieve global demilitarisation. However, I believe that in order to have the confidence to eliminate physical weapons, some kind of inner disarmament is necessary. To begin with we need to embark on the difficult task of developing love and compassion within ourselves. Peace is not merely the absence of war, but a state of tranquillity founded on the deep sense of security that arises from mutual understanding, tolerance of others’ points of view, and respect for their rights. Peace is not something which exists independently of us, nor is war. The political leaders, policymakers and army generals who have responsibilities with respect to peace are members of our own human family, the society that we as individuals have helped create.

In this context, the proposal that there should be a Ministry of Peace within governments is not merely admirable, but if implemented would represent a serious indication of actual intent. I am happy to give my support to such a body whose responsibilities would include being a consistent voice for non-violent means of settling disputes.

I would like to offer what encouragement I may to everyone involved in this project with the caution that whenever we pursue noble goals, obstacles and difficulties are bound to occur. As human beings, we may lose hope. But as there is nothing to be gained from discouragement, our determination must be very firm. According to my own limited experience, we can transform ourselves and so make a difference by transforming the societies we belong to. I am convinced that if we all were to spend a few minutes every day trying to develop a sense of inner peace, eventually it will become part of our lives and then everything we do will contribute to peace in the world.
Signed by HH Dalai Lama

Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix

Paul Abdul

Paul Abdul

Flea (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)

Flea (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson

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Amy Smart

Amy Smart

Tyne Daly

Tyne Daly

Frances Farmer

Frances Farmer

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