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