Peace: Message to Pope Paul VI
U Thant: Message to Pope Paul VI on the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress
August 21, 1968
We are living in a momentous period in history. We are going through- and we ourselves are forging- a great revolution of ever growing impetus. It is in our hands to channel the profound changes which are being brought about in our times toward the most fruitful directions, away from suffering, violence, and enmity. We can see when we pause in our pursuits to reflect on this rapid transformation, many reasons to be grateful and hopeful despite so much misery, intolerance, and discrimination. Man has reached a threshold of knowledge that could permit him to build on this earth a society more in keeping with his inherent dignity, more adequate to his needs and hopes.
All of us believe and know that, in our times, peace is paramount. But peace is not only the absence of organized violence by men against men.
Peace is also the assertion of the dignity of all human beings. It is freedom from ignorance, hunger and conquerable disease.
Peace is also the sense of fulfillment and the stability which result when parents are able to provide for both the spiritual and material needs of their children.
Peace is caring for our neighbor as much as for ourselves.
Peace is not easy to attain; it does not depend on governments, on the observance of treaties, or on good will among nations. True, all this is essential.
But peace equally depends on individual endeavor and understanding, on personal generosity and compassion.
But peace cannot be strengthened or maintained without bridging the abyss between rich and poor countries, or between rich and poor persons.
Peace is the respect for the rights of individuals and the rights of states.
Peace is social justice as much as economic development.
Our collective task is the deliberate elimination of injustice and of poverty, as much among men as among nations, and the many changes that this requires begin in the heart of men.