President John F. Kennedy gave a ground-breaking speech for peace at the graduation of American University students on June 10, 1963. Addressed to the students, the President also directly addressed this message to “his fellow Americans.” It is an unprecedented call to the people to take peace-making into their spirit and move this country “not towards a strategy of annihilation but towards a strategy of peace.” Now, 60 years later, in times of greater peril than 1963, we join with those trying to offer this truly great speech to become more popularly known. May its courage, its nobility, its integrity and universality fortify our conviction that peace is the way, not the way of ever-increasing weapons of all kinds. We are so thankful to all who have made efforts to share this with the people.Below is a statement written by Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest and largest Interfaith organization for peace in US. It was signed by over 1300 religious leaders of all faiths, and still stands beyond the time-frame of Christmas, originally stated. A ceasefire and diplomatic process is most urgently needed. May we move our President and Legislators to commit to this life-giving path of peace.
“As people of faith and conscience, believing in the sanctity of all life on this planet, we call for a (Christmas) Truce in Ukraine…we urge our government to take a leadership role in bringing the war in the Ukraine to an end through supporting calls for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement, before the conflict results in a nuclear war that could devastate the world’s ecosystems and annihilate all of God’s creation.”
Several quotes from President Kennedy’s speech:
- “…I have…chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived – and that is the most important topic on earth: peace.
- “What kind of a peace do I mean…Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war…(but) the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living…- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace in all time…
- “Some say it is useless to speak of peace or world law or world disarmament – and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must re-examine our own attitudes – as individuals and as a Nation – for our attitude is as essential as theirs…Every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward – by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace, towards the Soviet Union, towards the course of the Cold War and towards freedom and peace here at home….
- “Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process – a way of solving problems.
- “We have also been talking in Geneva about our first-step measures of arms controls designed to limit the intensity of the arms race and reduce the risk of accidental war. Our primary long range interest in Geneva (United Nations), however, is general and complete disarmament – designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political development to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms…”
“If the US abandoned the idea of defending the nation through violence, machine force and warfare…instead shared its military budget with its own people in need and others around the world, the lives of all those people could be sustained…when the US can convert itself this way, then other countries would come to admire the US instead of fearing it. The way of thinking in which policies depend on force…have come to a deadlock here in US. When it reaches the ultimate deadlock that will be the beginning of change. Not a single penny is needed. Believe in others. Believe in the world…”
-Most Ven. Nichidatsu Fujii, Founder, Teacher, Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order