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SEMN Peacemakers

Quotes About War From Famous Individuals


"We got off the train. Tall, strong hard-muscled Americans. Our drill instructors taught us how to march, and how to crawl through machine gun fire. They taught us how to rip out the enemy's throat and how to fire bullets into his brain. Some of these trainees would actually come home like Trumbo's Johnny. Others would die crying for their girlfriends or mothers, mouths clogged with blood and snow, eyes frozen open. All of this would change us. Not for just awhile, but for the rest of our lives. War does that. Gets inside. Doesn't want to leave. I carry it. A discovery, a wound, a challenge. A face that cries for mercy in the world where more than forty armed conflicts are raging."
-- Philip Berrigan


"One cannot subdue a man by holding back his hands. Lasting peace comes not from force."
-- David Borenstein, October 26, 1999


"No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear."
-- Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797), "A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful", 1756


"In time of war the first casualty is truth."
-- Boake Carter, Radio commentator


"No one wins a war. It is true, there are degrees of loss, but no one wins."
-- Brock Chisholm: Director-General, World Health Organization


"If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies."
--Moshe Dayan (1915 - 1981)


"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war."
Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) (attributed)

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
-- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)


"I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.”
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from the cross of iron."
-- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953


When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882), Journals, 1824


"There never was a good war or a bad peace."
-- Benjamin Franklin.


"Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies."
-- W. L. George


"Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?"
--Kahlil Gibran, "The Voice of the Poet"


" Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind."
--John Fitzgerald Kennedy


" The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. You may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. You may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate, nor establish love. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today [is] my own government. ...[F]or the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."
-- Martin Luther King


"It is well that war is so terrible--we would grow too fond of it."
-- Robert E. Lee


"You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it."
--Malcolm X (1925 - 1965)


"War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."
-- Thomas Mann


"The picture of the world’s greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1,000 noncombatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one."
-- Robert McNamara, May, 1967 in a memo to President Johnson


"If we let people see that kind of thing, there would never again be any war."
--Pentagon official, on why US military censored graphic footage from the Gulf War


"You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake."
--Jeannette Rankin (1880 - 1973)


"I cannot believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war and no one will win the next."
--Eleanor Roosevelt


"War, like children’s fights, are meaningless, pitiless, and contemptible."
-- Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi, Muslim Poet


"War is cruelty and you cannot refine it."
-- William T. Sherman


"For Christians, the historic peace churches and well-established groups within various denominations have been working diligently to develop resources and models for ministries of reconciliation. A relatively new and promising initiative among Christian ethicists, theologians, and experts in conflict resolution has produced an alternative to pacifism and just war theory: the just peacemaking paradigm. In this paradigm the focus shifts to initiatives that can help prevent war and foster peace. Working during the 1990s, the scholars and activists developed ten key practices and detailed guidelines for peacemaking:

1. Support nonviolent direct action.

2. Take independent initiatives to reduce threat.

3. Use cooperative conflict resolution.

4. Acknowledge responsibility for conflict and injustice and seek repentance and forgiveness.

5. Advance democracy, human rights, and religious liberty.

6. Foster just and sustainable economic development.

7. Work with emerging cooperative forces in the international system.

8. Strengthen the United Nations and international efforts for cooperation and human rights.

9. Reduce offensive weapons and weapons trade.

10. Encourage grassroots peacemaking groups and voluntary associations."

--Glen Stassen, ed., Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1998).


"War is fear cloaked in courage."
--William Westmoreland

Jump To Quote By:

Berrigan, Philip
Borenstein, David
Burke, Edmund
Carter, Boake
Chisholm, Brock
Dayan, Moshe
Einstein, Albert
Eisenhower, Dwight D.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo
Franklin, Benjamin
George, W. L.
John F. Kennedy
King, Jr., Martin Luther
Lee, Robert E.
Malcolm X
Mann, Thomas
McNamara, Robert
Pentagon Official
Rankin, Jeannette
Roosevelt, Eleanor
Rumi, Mowlana Jalaluddin
Sherman, William T.
Stassen, Glen


Westmoreland, William

For Further Reading:

Charles Kimball, "When Religion Becomes Evil," p. 183-184

Religious Statements on Nuclear Weapons


"The whole world must summon the moral courage and technical means to say no to nuclear conflict; no to weapons of mass destruction; no to an arms race which robs the poor and the vulnerable; and no to the moral danger of a nuclear age which places before humankind indefensible choices of constant terror or surrender."
-- U.S Catholic Bishops, 1983



" ..the production and deployment, as well as the use, of nuclear weapons are a crime against humanity and must be condemned on ethical and theological grounds."
-- Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 1985



" It is our belief that the continued development of newer and more destructive nuclear weapons can only make their eventual use more likely. Nuclear weapons' development must be halted around the world."
-- Church of the Brethren, 1997



"We believe that the concept of nuclear deterrence, which involves a trust in nuclear weapons, is a form of idolatry. We call upon all people and nations to renounce the research, development, testing, production, deployment, and actual use of nuclear weapons."
-- Mennonite Central Committee, 1978



“ ..genuine disarmament and true peace require that reliance upon nuclear deterrence end and that nuclear weapons be eliminated."
-- Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1989



" The General Assembly has considered reliance on nuclear weapons for security as idolatrous, and has stated that any use would be demonic."
-- Presbyterian Church (USA), 1994



" We declare our opposition to all weapons of mass destruction. All nations should: a. declare that they will never use such weapons; b. cease immediately the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons; c. begin dismantling these arsenals; d. while the process of dismantling is going on, negotiate comprehensive treaties banning all such future weapons by any nation."
-- United Church of Christ, 1985



"These Considerations compel us to say "No," a clear and unconditioned "No," to nuclear war and to any use of nuclear weapons. But our "No" is more than a matter of ethical calculation; it is a rejection of that nuclear idolatry that presumes to usurp the sovereignty of the God of shalom over all nations and peoples. We conclude that nuclear deterrence is a position that cannot receive the church's blessing."
-- United Methodist Council of Bishops, 1986


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