Peace and Justice Quote Series

By Taylor O’Connor | www.everydaypeacebuilding.com

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

So basically, I’m a peace nerd who has been collecting quotes on peace and justice for years. I find quotes like this to be a great source of inspiration, not only in my work for peace and justice, but also just generally in my life.

In my collection, I actually have hundreds of quotes on peace. However, many of them are a bit generic. So I sifted through to pick out those quotes that offer a unique perspective on peace to ensure they won’t only inspire, but they might just expand your mind a bit.

I did my best to bring in diverse perspectives, so you’ll see quotes from all around the world from all kinds of people past and present. There will be many you have never heard of. And I’ve only included one quote per author. So below are 87 inspirational quotes arranged chronologically by the author’s birth year going back to the 4th century BCE, also including the author’s name, and the country or region they came from.

I hope these quotes will inspire you to build peace in your life and in the world around you.


Quotes on Peace

1. “To replace the old paradigm of war with a new paradigm of waging peace, we must be pioneers who can push the boundaries of human understanding. We must be doctors who can cure the virus of violence. We must be soldiers of peace who can do more than preach to the choir. And we must be artists who will make the world our masterpiece.” — Paul K. Chappell, USA, born 1980

2. “Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.” — Hafsat Abiola, Nigeria, born 1974

3. “The beauty of peace is in trying to find solutions together.” — Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, Kenya and Somalia, 1964–2011

4. “It’s odd how those who dismiss the peace movement as utopian, don’t hesitate to proffer the most absurdly dreamy reasons for going to war: to stamp out terrorism, install democracy, eliminate fascism, and most entertainingly, to “rid the world of evil-doers.” — Arundhati Roy, India, born 1961

5. “We say no to the peace that keeps us on our knees, no to the peace that keeps us in chains, no to the false peace that denies the values and contributions of our peoples.” — Rigoberta Menchu, Guatemala, born 1959

6. “Peace is not the absence of anything. Real peace is the presence of something beautiful. Both peace and the thirst for it have been in the heart of every human being in every century and every civilization.” — Prem Rawat, India and USA, born 1957

7. “Building peace is more often about creating space, developing relationships, persevering in spite of overwhelming pessimism, and being flexible enough to respond to emerging opportunities, meager as they may be.” — John Paul Lederach, USA, born 1955

8. “Peace cannot be bullied into existence.” — Ali Jarbawi, Palestine, born 1954

9. “We live now in a global village and we are in one single family. It’s our responsibility to bring friendship and love from all different places around the world and to live together in peace.” — Jackie Chan, Hong Kong, born 1954

10. “The primary threat to nature and people today comes from centralizing and monopolizing power and control. Not until diversity is made the logic of production will there be a chance for sustainability, justice and peace. Cultivating and conserving diversity is no luxury in our times: it is a survival imperative.” — Vandana Shiva, India, born 1952


11. “Peace is the essential prerequisite because without peace we will be unable to achieve the levels of cooperation, inclusiveness and social equity necessary to solve our global challenges, let alone empower the international institutions needed to regulate the challenges.” — Steve Killelea, Australia, born 1949

12. “You may find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” — Eckhart Tolle, Germany and Canada, born 1948

13. “True peace comes with the discovery that we can respect the seasons of life with a spacious and undefended heart. In it we learn to trust, to rest in the truth of the way things are, to willingly accept the measure of joy and sorrow we are given” — Jack Kornfield, USA, born 1945

14. “War will stop when we no longer praise it, or give it any attention at all. Peace will come wherever it is sincerely invited.” — Alice Walker, USA, born 1944

15. “A people free to choose will always choose peace.” — Bernice Johnson Reagon, USA, born 1942

16. “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” — Jimi Hendrix, USA, 1942–1970

17. “The way in which we can promote peace, is by promoting sustainable management of our resources, equitable distribution of these resources, and that the only way you can actually do that, is that then you have to have a political, economic system that facilitates that.” — Wangari Maathai, Kenya, 1940–2011

18. “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.” — John Lennon, England, 1940–1980

19. “Peace is not the product of a victory or a command. It has no finishing line, no final deadline, no fixed definition of achievement. Peace is a never-ending process, the work of many decisions.” — Oscar Arias, Costa Rica, born 1940

20. “Unless we teach children peace, someone else will teach them violence.” — Colman McCarthy, USA, born 1938


21. “There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace.” — Kofi Annan, Ghana, 1938–2018

22. “Community responsibility, when it is managed well, results in peace. And peace benefits everyone. Taking care of someone or something to which you are not immediately genetically related pays you back in other dimensions, and the payback is part of your wellbeing. Compassion is useful and beneficial for all.” — Katy Payne, USA, born 1937

23. “Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” — George Carlin, USA, 1937–2008

24. “Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.” — Pema Chodron, USA, born 1936

25. “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” — The 14th Dalai Lama, Tibet, born 1935

26. “Peace is something you make with your adversaries, not with your friends.” — Johan Galtung, Norway, born 1930

27. “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” — Martin Luther King Jr., USA, 1929–1968

28. “Without deep listening and gentle loving speech it is very difficult to move towards peace. Peace will only become a reality, when world leaders come to negotiations with the ability to hear the suffering at the root of all conflicts.” — Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnam, born 1926

29. “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” — Malcolm X, USA, 1925–1965

30. “We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.” — Jimmy Carter, USA, born 1924


31. “Peace as a positive condition of society, not merely as an interim between wars, is something so unknown that it casts no images on the mind’s screen.” — Denise Levertov, UK and USA, 1923–1997

32. “War is not inherent in human beings. We learn war and we learn peace. The culture of peace is something which is learned, just as violence is learned and war culture is learned.” — Elise Boulding, Norway and USA, 1920–2010

33. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” — Nelson Mandela, South Africa, 1918–2013

34. “Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.” — Oscar Romero, El Salvador, 1917–1980

35. “To have peace and not war, the drift toward a war economy, as facilitated by the moves and the demands of the sophisticated conservatives, must be stopped; to have peace without slump, the tactics and policies of the practical right must be overcome. The political and economic power of both must be broken.” — C. Wright Mills, USA, 1916–1962

36. “Peace is not something you must hope for in the future. It is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present, you will never find it.” — Thomas Merton, France and USA, 1915–1968

37. “War is an invention of the human mind. The human mind can invent peace.” — Norman Cousins, USA, 1915–1990

38. “Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.” — Etty Hillesum, Netherlands, 1914–1943

39. “Peace is the only battle worth waging.” — Albert Camus, France, 1913–1960

40. “Peace begins with a smile.” — Mother Teresa, Macedonia, 1910–1997


41. “When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” — Peace Pilgrim, USA, 1908–1981

42. “The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.” — Dag Hammarskjöld, Sweden, 1905–1961

43. “Peace, to have meaning for many who have only known suffering in both peace and war, must be translated into bread or rice, shelter, health and education, as well as freedom and human dignity.” — Ralph Bunche, USA, 1904–1971

44. “Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.” — Pablo Neruda, Chile, 1904–1973

45. “You may call for peace as loudly as you wish, but where there is no brotherhood there can in the end be no peace.” — Max Lerner, Russia and USA, 1902–1992

46. “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.” — Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, India, 1900–1990

47. “If you want peace, work for justice.” — Pope Paul VI, Italy, 1897–1978

48. “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; until there is no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.” — Haile Selassie, Ethiopia, 1892–1975

49. “Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul… Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.” — Jawaharlal Nehru, India, 1889–1964

50. “We cannot have peace if we are only concerned with peace. War is not an accident. It is the logical outcome of a certain way of life. If we want to attack war, we have to attack that way of life.” — A.J. Muste, Netherlands and USA, 1885–1967


51. “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, USA, 1884–1962

52. “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” — Virginia Woolf, England, 1882–1941

53. “The social progress, order, security and peace of each country are necessarily connected with the social progress, order, security and peace of all other countries.” — Pope John the XXIII, Italy, 1881–1963

54. “I do not want the peace that passeth (passes) understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth (brings) peace.” — Helen Keller, USA, 1880–1968

55. “The Soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” — General Douglas MacArthur, USA, 1880–1964

56. “If peace only had the music and pageantry of war, there’d be no wars.” — Sophie Kerr, USA, 1880–1965

57. “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. You cannot subjugate a nation forcibly unless you wipe out every man, woman, and child. Unless you wish to use such drastic measures, you must find a way of settling your disputes without resort to arms.” — Albert Einstein, Germany and United States, 1879–1955

58. “Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.” — Albert Schweitzer, France, 1875–1965

59. “Peace is a practical positive policy, which must be attained by friendly co-operation between the nations, putting the good of all before the interests of each.” — Anna Ruth Fry, England, 1878–1962

60. “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” — Maria Montessori, Italy, 1870–1952


61. “If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed — but hate these things in yourself, not in another.” — Mahatma Gandhi, India, 1869–1948

62. “Ignorance is a menace to peace.” — Paul Harris, USA, 1868–1947

63. “Peace has its victories no less than war, but it doesn’t have as many monuments to unveil.” — Kin Hubbard, USA, 1868–1930

64. “You are not going to get peace with millions of armed men. The chariot of peace cannot advance over a road littered with cannon.” — David Lloyd George, UK, 1863–1945

65. “There can never be peace between nations until there is first known that true peace which is within the souls of men.” — Black Elk, Lakota territory — USA, 1863–1950

66. “Peace produced by suppression is neither natural nor desirable.” — Anna Julia Cooper, USA, 1858–1964

67. “Here the ways of men divide. If you wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe; if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then inquire.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Germany, 1844–1900

68. “I went into the Army believing that if you want peace you must prepare for war. I now believe that if you prepare thoroughly for war you will get it.” — Sir John Frederick Maurice, UK, 1842–1912

69. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” — John Muir, Scotland and USA, 1838–1914

70. “Peace is always beautiful.” — Walt Whitman, USA, 1819–1892


71. “May the people and the government respect the rights of all. Between individuals, as between nations, peace means respect for the rights of others.” — Benito Juárez, Mexico, 1806–1872

72. “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, USA, 1803–1882

73. “The strongest passions, and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.” — Alexander Hamilton, USA, 1755–1804

74. “Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.” — George Washington, USA, 1732–1799

75. “A treaty of Peace may, indeed, put an end to a particular war, yet not to the general condition of war, in which a pretext can always be found for new hostilities.” — Immanuel Kant, Prussia (modern day Germany and Russia), 1724–1804

76. “I hope…that mankind will at length, as they call themselves reasonable creatures, have reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats; for in my opinion there never was a good war, or a bad peace.” — Benjamin Franklin, USA, 1706–1790

77. “Peace is the happy natural state of man; war is corruption and disgrace.” — James Thomson, Scotland, 1700–1748

78. “A large part of peace is genuinely wanting peace.” — Erasmus of Rotterdam, Netherlands, 1466–1536

79. “First keep peace with yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.” — Thomas Kempis, Germany and Netherlands, 1380–1471

80. “Five enemies of peace inhabit with us — avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.” — Francesco Petrarca, Italy, 1304–1374


81. “Peace is the work of justice indirectly, in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace; but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity, according to its very notion, causes peace.” — Thomas Aquinas, Italy, 1225–1274

82. “Make peace with the universe. Take joy in it. It will turn to gold. Resurrection will be now. Every moment, a new beauty.” — Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, present day Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkey, 1207–1273

83. “To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace.” — Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Roman Empire in present day France, 56–120

84. “Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot.” — Sun Tzu, China, 544–496 BC

85. “When things are investigated, then true knowledge is achieved; when true knowledge is achieved, then the will becomes sincere; when the will is sincere, then the heart is set right (or then the mind sees right); when the heart is set right, then the personal life is cultivated; when the personal life is cultivated, then the family life is regulated; when the family life is regulated, then the national life is orderly; and when the national life is orderly, then there is peace in this world.” — Confucius, China, 551–479 BC

86. “Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace. Better than a thousand hollow verses is one verse that brings peace. Better than a hundred hollow lines is one line of the law, bringing peace.” — Gautama Buddha, present day Nepal and India, c. 5th to 4th century BC

87. “If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities. If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in the home. If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart.” — Lao Tzu, China, 4th century BC


If you like these, stay tuned for more quotes on other topics on other themes related to peace and justice.

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