|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Vegetarian World Forum
TO-DAY man has no problem more urgent than that of realizing his aspiration toward world peace. As long as the problem is bigger than the individual who is trying to solve it, the solution must remain out of reach. Therefore, the only way to get rid of war is to outgrow it. Fortunately for the future of mankind, there are certain men and women of every nationality who have already outgrown war in word, deed, and thought. Among such fore-runners of a more enlightened human race is the remarkable American woman called Peace Pilgrim, who has taken the following vow: " I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace - walking until I am given shelter, fasting until I am given food, using money given me to spread the peace message.”
In order to avoid mistaking the word for the thing, itself, Peace, like the Jains of India, has projected peacefulness into her living habits. Having developed respect for the lives of her fellow creatures, she eats no meat; and having also respect for her own life, she uses no alcohol, nicotine, caffeine or other drugs. She avoids white flour, white sugar, processed foods and seasonings, eating for the most part vegetables, fruits and nuts - when possible organically grown. Each day she gets as much fresh air, sunshine, and contact with Nature as she can, preferring to go to bed at dusk. Most important of all she expresses no negative thought.
Peace is now on the second half of her 10,000 mile pilgrimage in the interest of world disarmament. She has already walked across the U.S.A. from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic, and from the Canadian border to Mexico. At present in the year 1956 she is walking 100 miles or more in each state of the Union and will end at the capital, Washington, D.C. Her pilgrimage is a prayer set in motion, as well as an opportunity to talk to thousands of American people. Her way of peace is to overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, hatred with love. She asks us not to say lightly that the Golden Rule is impractical, for it is based on a law governing human conduct as irresistible as the law of gravity. It is only because we, the people, have chosen to disregard this fundamental law that war has come upon us. Simply through obedience to the Golden Rule, the frightened, war-weary people of the world could enter into a period of peace beyond their fondest dreams.
In a message to the United Nations, Peace Pilgrim has said: - “ We plead with you to free us from the crushing burden of armaments - to free us from hatred and fear - so that we may feed our hungry ones, mend our broken dwellings, and experience a richness of life which can only come in a world that is unarmed and fed.” In saying these things to world leaders Peace has repeated the directive Benjamin Franklin in 1778 gave to the French Government: “He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.”
WITHOUT hitch-hiking, Peace walked from Los Angeles to New York, taking a whole year for the journey. She covered the first 5,000 miles of her 10,000 mile pilgrimage in 200 days of walking, an average of 25 miles a day interspersed with 165 days of rest and reflection. During this long journey on foot without money to pay her way, Peace talked to countless men and women along the road and to groups in churches and auditoriums. She was also invited to make recordings which were broadcast over national radio and television hook-ups. She, herself, belongs to no church or other organization and has no earthly possessions of any sort except the clothing she wears. For two hundred days she walked until she was given shelter and fasted until she was given food. Although she asked for nothing from anybody, thousands of Americans received her warmly in their homes and approved her message of world friendship and peace which is in harmony with the teachings not only of primitive Christianity but of all other major religions throughout the world.
At the end of the first 5,000 miles Peace wrote a letter dated May 15th, 1954, from which the following is quoted: “I am in the midst of a wonderful period of prayer and fasting at an idyllic spot near Charlotte, North Carolina. For the past month I have taken no food, only water. My special prayer is for world disarmament - please join me in my prayer! This restful period is such a contrast to the pilgrimage and the busy round of speaking engagements during the first few months of this year. But it is only an interlude. I shall walk again.” After fasting and praying for thirty days Peace wrote down a number of her random thoughts:
“There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you. That criterion is - have they brought you peace within? If they have not, there is something wrong with them - so keep seeking.”
“You cannot change anyone except yourself. After you have become an example you can inspire others to change themselves.”
“If you love people enough they will respond lovingly. When I offend people I blame myself completely, for I know that if my conduct had been correct they would not have been offended even though they did not agree with me. Before the tongue can speak it must have lost the power to wound.’”
“When you have become a channel through which God works there are no more limitations, because He does the work through you - you are merely the instrument - and what He can do is unlimited. When you are working for Him you do not find yourself striving and straining - you find yourself calm, serene and unhurried.”
“Live this day. Never agonize over the past or worry over the future. Live this day and live it well.”
People try to make up for their spiritual impoverishment by accumulating material things. When spiritual blessings come material things seem unimportant.”
“We spend a great deal of time telling God what we think He ought to be doing, and not enough time waiting in the stillness for Him to tell us what He Wants us to do.”
As soon as the people of the world have out-grown war, every government will establish peace, for the government in any given nation is only an enlargement of the individual, a collective pattern projecting upon the people the consequences of their own desires and habits. As they sow, so shall they reap. The notion now popular in the Western World that far flung battle stations ensure security is based on a false assumption contrary to the facts of history. As the great English historian, Arnold Toynbee, has pointed out in Civilization on Trial, of the twenty-two or three major civilizations on record that have come and gone, all have fallen as soon as they chose to place their trust in military might. The whole matter boils down to what Lecomte du .Nouy has written in Human Destiny: “The time has come for nations as well as individuals to know what they want.” If we really want peace we must fulfil certain conditions, and then peace will come to us. No outside protection against war will be effective if the enemy is cowering at the bottom of our own hearts.
Toward the end Of her stay at Charlotte, North Carolina, Peace Pilgrim felt guided to visit “Meeting Hill” in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where my wife and I have a fruit, tree farm. We happened to be working in the apple orchard the June morning that Peace turned off the main highway and came walking into our lives. Although she spent only a week with’us, she left behind her a rich.gift of tranquillity that has become a lasting part of the spirit of “Meeting Hill.” It is the same spirit which tells us no outside Power or group of Powers can force anybody in any country on earth to accept or reject peace. The initiative must come from within. So far, in the land of Franklin, Woolman, Lincoln, Emerson, Whiteman, and Thoreau, Peace still walks the highways, bareheaded, burdenless, and unafraid. No enemy cowers at the bottom of her heart and by her courageous example she is helping thousands of individual men, women and children all over the U.S.A. to uphold the highest traditions of the multi-racial American democracy. A great spiritual awakening is taking place in our materialistic Western World. May we all pass through the darkness of fear and hate into the light of peace.