Some people see peace as an inner state of calm that you find through meditation and avoiding negativity. Others look at it from a larger lens and see it as resolving world conflict. Here are 15 peace quotes from scientists, activists, and artists that can help us understand peace from different perspectives:
1. Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. – Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was more than a theoretical physicist. He was also a peacemaker and a known pacifist after World War I. Although he initially urged American forces to build the atomic bomb, he had hoped it would be enough of a threat to end the war. When America dropped the bomb on civilians, the physicist regretted playing a role. So, he founded the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists (ECAS). His quote highlights how communication is the key to effective conflict resolution. That’s, in part, what the ECAS was about: opening a discussion and informing the public about the risks at hand.
2. Smile five times a day at someone you don’t really want to smile at; do it for peace. – Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa’s dedication to combating poverty and caring for the destitute is admirable. Yet, her charity wasn’t just limited to providing shelter for those in need. Her positive attitude was one way of fighting all the evil in the world. This quote reflects this sentiment, too. You’ve got to start calling for peace yourself, even if you can only muster a smile for someone on the other side of the conflict. In a way, this means taking the first step by spreading hope and tolerance.
3. It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. – Martin Luther King Jr.
Throughout his years as a political activist, Martin Luther King Jr. maintained his stand that nonviolence was the answer to world conflict. The message of nonviolence is obvious in a lot of his sermons. However, this quote was taken from his “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” speech at the National Cathedral in 1968. In context, the quote meant that people had to choose between worldwide nuclear disarmament or the downfall of civilization. Peace isn’t a luxury; it’s the only hope civilization has.
4. When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix may have contributed to the music industry through his unique electric guitar techniques. However, he’s done more than that. To this day, people still remember him for his legendary performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock back in 1969. Most people thought that the way the guitarist altered the anthem to conjure an atmosphere of fighter jets and bombs was a protest against the Vietnam War. His quote reflects the anti-war sentiment of Woodstock in general. It also shows how war is always about a fight for power, and spreading love is the way out of this struggle.
5. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace. – Chuck Palahniuk
Charles Michael Palahniuk (also known as Chuck Palahniuk) is the American author behind the award-winning novel Fight Club. He has also published other books in the transgressive fiction genre. That said, this quote isn’t from one of Palahniuk’s works of fiction. It’s actually from his diary, and it shows tranquility and happiness from a different perspective than most others on the list. Although we all seek internal peace so desperately, it’s not really what shapes us. Instead, it’s the hardships that teach us life’s lessons, and that’s why we remember pain more than moments of serenity.
6. No one can give us peace. We can’t buy or borrow it. We have to cultivate it by practicing. – Baba Hari Dass
Baba Hari Dass (Babaji) was a monk and master yogi from India who took an oath of silence and followed it for 66 years. Through writing, Babaji spread his thoughts on peace and spirituality to his students, and this quote gives us an insight into his teachings. Some people believe that peace is something we have to create. Others see it as a concept that we find within ourselves. For Babaji, meditation was a means to cultivate this inner calm. Either way, all these views agree that it’s not the kind of thing you can demand or receive from others.
7. If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace. – John Lennon
John Lennon’s hit “Give Peace a Chance” is still considered an anti-war anthem to this day. Plus, the Beatles singer often used his fame to address his political views, from protesting against the global conflict to calling for Native American rights. In this quote, Lennon addresses two notions. The first is that peace is possible to achieve, but people have to want it and seek it. However, the second notion is that the world is based on materialism. Most people would rather dream of physical comforts than spirituality.
8. Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war. – Maria Montessori
You might know Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori for her teaching method, the child-centric Montessori Method. However, she was also a physician, a humanitarian, and an advocate for world peace. In fact, she was a three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize! This quote shows that peace is more than just a political atmosphere; it’s a personal philosophy. To enact real peace, we have to incorporate it into society as a core belief. What’s a better place to do that than the classroom?
9. Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace. – Jonathan Lockwood Huie
For the longest time, Jonathan Lockwood Huie was a technologist managing startups in Silicon Valley. However, he shifted to become a speaker, a personal coach, and an author, with a particular focus on helping others find happiness and balance in life. In this quote, we can see that one of Huie’s approaches to unearthing inner peace is letting go of past grievances. As it happens, this notion of forgiving others for one’s own sake is popular in psychology. In fact, forgiving has benefits for physical health as well, not just mental health!
10. Learning to distance yourself from all the negativity is one of the greatest lessons to achieve inner peace. – Roy T. Bennett
Roy T. Bennett is the author behind “The Light in the Heart.” The Light in the Heart is an inspirational book that discusses how to nurture positivity from within, and inner peace is just one side of the equation. This quote from the book sheds light on how “inner peace” is a state of satisfaction you can create for yourself. You only get there if you have the willpower to remove the things that bring negativity to your life. This could be a conflict you need to resolve or someone you have to cut ties with.
11. Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want. Welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace. – Epictetus
Epictetus was a Greek philosopher who followed the Stoic school of thought. While some people believe avoiding negativity brings inner peace, this quote reflects a different point of view. It tells us that it’s not always possible to control what life throws at us, and we can’t weed out all sources of adversity. That’s why Epictetus finds that embracing the ups and downs is more effective than avoidance.
12. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means. – Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, believed that peace comes through strength. In this quote from his speech at Eureka College, Reagan argues that conflict in itself isn’t a deal-breaker. Instead, it’s possible to have conflict and still maintain peace. It all boils down to whether leaders can handle the resolution process by nonviolent means.
13. The more peace we bring into our lives, the more peace we bring into this world. – Todd Perelmuter
After a 9-year spiritual journey, Todd Perelmuter wrote and published his book “Spiritual Words to Live by.” All in all, the book reflects Perelmuter’s message of spreading happiness and peace in the world, and this quote is a prime example. Perelmuter believes that seeking calm thoughts helps us become sources of positivity for the people around us. So, in a way, the quote merges the notion that we’re responsible for our own inner peace with the notion that we can contribute to world peace at large.
14. Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread. – Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda (also known as Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto) was a Chilean poet and political activist. His quote builds on the notion that peace is a belief that we bring to life through our actions. For Neruda, this action was writing poems. Not only that, but he also believed that the art of poetry, in general, is an expression of peace. Neruda’s perspective hasn’t vanished over the years, either. Art is still seen as a conflict prevention tool since it brings people together.
15. The single clenched fist lifted and ready, or the open hand held out and waiting. Choose: For we meet by one or the other. – Carl August Sandburg
Carl August Sandburg was a Pulitzer-winning poet, biographer, and journalist. This isn’t a quote from a biography, though. This one is from his poem “Choose.” Sandburg’s message is that peace is an action that begins with each individual’s choice to welcome the other with civility. The quote doesn’t imply the same risks of violence on civilization as Martin Luther King’s speech. Yet, it still prompts people to decide between being a peacemaker or a source of conflict.