Thoughts on Peace: Jesus, John, John Dear, Gandhi, James Douglass and Joanna Macy

Jesus of Nazareth, our Risen Christ

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. (Mt 5:22, The Message)


Do not be amazed, then, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
We know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers.
Whoever does not love remains in death.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.
The way we came to know love
was that he laid down his life for us;
so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
If someone who has worldly means
sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion,
how can the love of God remain in him? (1 Jn 3)


“When a person claims to be nonviolent, he is expected not to be angry with one who has injured him,” Gandhi wrote. “He will not wish him harm. He will wish him well. He will not swear at him. He will not cause him any physical hurt. He will put up with all the injury to which he is subjected by the wrongdoer. Thus nonviolence is complete innocence.”

“Complete nonviolence is complete absence of ill will against all that lives,” Gandhi continued. “Nonviolence is, in its active form, good will towards all life. It is pure Love. Nonviolence is a perfect state. It is a goal towards which all humanity moves naturally though unconsciously. The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress, the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.” (Gandhi, Young India, September 3, 1922 as cited in

In his book, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, Chris Matthews reminds us that the young Kennedy, having just returned from the war in the Pacific, came to think of war as an unnecessary endeavor; however, he was doubtful about eliminating war.

After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy set up back door communication with Nikita Khrushchev and Pope John XXIII factored into the mix. In fact, Khrushchev received a Russian translation of Pacem in Terris before it was released. These three leader realized that total worldwide disaster was narrowly avoided in the Missile Crisis and were working to make sure it never happened again. It is fair to say that many in the Military Industrial Complex hated Kennedy for his refusal to nuke Cuba.

James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

 At American University on June 10, 1963, JFK spoke about his desire for world peace. He communicated his resolve to form a new relationship with Khrushchev. He spoke about the necessity of a pursuit toward disarmament. He related his intentions to establish a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He acknowledged his country’s past faults and recognized the Russian people as wanting peace as much as the American people. “And we are all mortal,” he stated. Though this extremely important speech was ignored in the United States, it was disseminated throughout the Soviet Union, per order of Khrushchev, who was prepared to respond favorably to JFK’s peace initiative. The speech also certified JFK’s death warrant. With so many powerful enemies opposing his policies and hating him, JFK didn’t have a chance as he was being maneuvered into the crossfire in Dallas.

President Kennedy was aware of the power of his enemies and he knew the dangers facing him. But he persevered and mandated that all U.S. personnel would be withdrawn from Vietnam; he was determined to never send in combat troops even if this meant defeat. He also refused to intervene militarily in Laos. He exchanged private letters with Khrushchev, which infuriated the CIA, and secretly initiated plans to attain rapproachement with Cuba, which further incensed the Agency. Cuba’s Fidel Castro, whom the CIA hated as intensely as it hated Kennedy, was equally eager to begin an American-Cuba dialogue. In fact, Castro was meeting with a JFK representative when the President was murdered. JFK died a martyr and the forces of evil that killed him also killed his vision of peace.

Lyndon Johnson, the CIA’s ally, assumed the presidency. He cancelled talks with Khrushchev and refused Castro’s pleas to continue the dialogue. He reversed JFK’s withdrawal plan from Vietnam as well as his plan to neutralize Laos. The military industrial complex took control of the country. The policy of plausible deniability led the way to assassinations of foreign leaders, the overthrowing of foreign governments and horrors committed all over the globe. If JFK had not been murdered, we would not have had the prolongation of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the purported War on Terror and the steady moral deterioration of America. Interestingly, one month after JFK’s assassination, President Truman wrote an article for The Washington Post cautioning about the threat of the CIA taking over America.

The author meticulously examines the evidence and draws conclusions which ring with unassailable truth: (1) The CIA coordinated and implemented he assassination of President Kennedy, an act of treason which destroyed democracy in the U.S. (2) The Warren Commission was created to propagate lies to conceal the truth from the American people. (3)There has been a continued cover-up by successive administrations and their stooges in the mass media. (4)The murder of JFK is directly related to the current domination of the American people by powerful oppressors within a shadow government that will continue to insist that only sustained war can keep the country safe from its enemies, never admitting that they themselves are the supreme evil. (

Perhaps it is time to start loving our brothers and sisters. Perhaps now is the time to work for peace. Perhaps, just perhaps, with budget reductions looming, it is time to dismantle our war machine.

Joanna Macy

Recently, I [John Dear] read how my friend Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy concludes her workshops on hope by inviting people to profess five vows as a way to solemnize their commitment to hope, peace and right action. They read:

I vow to myself and to each of you:

  • to commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all being;
  • to live on earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products and energy I consume;
  • to draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, the ancestors, the future generations, and my brothers and sisters of all species;
  • to support each other in our work for the world and to ask for help when I need it;
  • to pursue a daily practice that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart and supports me in observing these vows.


As we end the Christmas Season of peace, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”



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