Mairead Maguire

Confronting War, Violence and Hate with Love and Compassion - Oct. 17, 2015

Mairead Maguire
October 17, 2015— Salt Lake City, Utah
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Maguire addressed the War, Violence and Hate Speech plenary at the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Good evening, brothers and sisters. It's a great joy for me to be here with you this evening and to be given the honor of being able to speak to you, so I thank the organizers for their invitation.

And what a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful occasion for us to be here. We come here as people from all different religions—and none—from all different beliefs and we come from all parts of the world and we represent millions and millions of the human family who want peace. [applause]

You know, peace is not a big thing to ask for. We have a human right to peace. And everyone in their hearts—what do people want around the world? They want peace for themselves, for their families, for their communities. They want enough to eat, they want a decent home, they want human security, they want to be able to freely speak how they feel and what they believe in. They want to be able to listen carefully to what others feel and what they believe in.

Because when we listen—and not only with our ears but with our heart—when we listen to each other, we realize that, oh yes, of course we're different. We have different ideologies. We have many different things. But we also realize that we are human beings. That we have our common humanity. That we are capable of loving. That no matter what people do and how wrong they get it and how misguided they get it, that in their hearts they are good. [applause]

You know we are going down the wrong road if we continue on the road of punishment and cruelty and war against "terrorists." Who are these terrorists that we are fighting war against?

September 11 was a great tragedy. We all remember where we were when we heard the news. And I remember when I heard about September 11 and I met my husband on the road outside and I said to him, "Where are the children? Where are our children?" Because we all felt on September the 11th for the people of America and other countries who had lost someone and that was cruel of fashion.

But what we also hoped for would be a sense of vision that somehow we didn't need to go down this road of retaliation and cruelty and killing. We didn't need to go that way. [applause] We needed a different way to approach it. You know, come September the 11th had we had people with wisdom in responsible places, they would have chosen to say that what happened on September the 11th was a criminal act, and of course people could be taken to task for criminal acts. But they would not have gone down the road of revenge, cruelty, war and murder. [applause]

We are at the turning point in our history, and what we choose will be important for the future of our children and whether we survive as a human family. That's how serious it is now today. The way politics are going, the way wars are increasing, the way militarism is being used to teach people how to kill their brothers and sisters and [unintelligible] and with nuclear weapons—which can be used and may well be used because they've been used by America before and they could be used again. Let's not fool ourselves. [applause]

We need to begin to think in a whole new way, and I'm not just talking about tinkering with a few programs and bringing in a few small administrative charges. I am thinking that we have got to change our mindsets, our whole way of thinking, our whole way of acting as man and women in a civilized world.

You know, we have got to re-find our humanity. We have got to resurrect our values. We have got to talk about morality. We have got to bring ethics into our personal and our political lives. [applause] In other words, we've got to find our souls again. [applause]

This is where the faith traditions have an important responsibility. Are you up to this responsibility? As faith traditions, have you got your foundations right? Because you see, we can't just all say it's all about the political leaders and their bad foreign policies. We have got to say, where am I in this? Am I leading and living out of love? And that love means loving everyone, being forgiven, having no enemies, but understanding where people are coming from when they take a gun or a bomb and go out and use it.

Where are they coming from? Let's ask the real questions, because it's only when we get to the root of what the violence is and where it's coming from and we fierce on the root causes and begin to tackle them, will we have any hope whatsoever of beginning to get out of this mess that we are all in.

The root causes of violence. You know, the enemy is poverty. The enemy is injustice. The enemy is cruelty. The enemy is demonizing another religion or other different ethnic groups. The enemy is not out there. It is also in there [motions to her heart] and our own prejudices.

I think sometimes we confuse life so much that we have got to demonize somebody, and my God, aren't we good at it. Look at how we demonize the leader of Iraq, the leader of Libya. Look at what we're now doing in Syria. Look at we've done in Afghanistan. These were all man-made, woman-made conflicts that did not need to happen. [applause]

I was in Iraq before the war and we spoke to the Iraqi administration. They told us, we've no nuclear weapons. We want dialogue. We want dialogue with America. Did they get it? No, they got bombs.

I was in Syria twice in the last couple of years. Do you know what's happening in Syria? We discovered in Syria thousands and thousands of foreign fighters, paid for, trained and sent in by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, America, Britain, the UK – trained foreign fighters in Syria to bring down a Syrian government.

Do you read that in your press? No, you don't, because the Western media don't tell us the truth. [applause]

And as civilized people concerned about our brothers and sisters – no matter where they live, because they are our brothers and sisters – we demand of the media – the corporate Western media – to tell us the truth so that we can make up our own minds what to do and what not to do. [applause]

Western foreign policies have created a world that is very dangerous for any of us to be traveling about in. I appealed to the American administration, being here in America and I've American roots, I appealed to the American administration – turn away from the path you're on of war and militarism and weaponry, and join the human family and begin to deal with the real enemies of poverty and the environmental crises and nuclear weapons that we have to get rid of. Turn away from the path you are on and give us all a chance for peace. [applause]

But I say to the churches and to the faith traditions – you can do great things, because it will be a spiritual and a political movement that will change the world. It will be the head and the heart that will change the world.

And the religious traditions have tremendous responsibility because you can do great good, but only, only, only if you are true to your founders who taught non-violence, peace and non killing.

Reject totally, throw away your theologies that blessed just wars. I, as a Christian, reject totally the Just War theory because in the words of Father John L. McKenzie, a brilliant American theologian, the Just War theology is a phony piece of morality. [applause]

You know, per al Augustine, he once wrote, “Everything I have written is so much straw.” Augustine, your Just War theology – you got it wrong, brother.

We want a theology more in keeping with the spirit of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, Mohammed, Jesus – great prophets who taught love. Love one another as I have loved you and do not kill.

Thank you.