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Dr. Robert Muller, former assistant secretary general of the United Nations,
now Chancellor emeritus of the University of Peace in Costa Rica was one of
the people who witnessed the founding of the U.N. and has worked in support
of or inside the U.N. ever since. Recently he was in San Francisco to be
honored for his service to the world through the U.N. and through his
writings and teachings for peace. At age eighty, Dr. Muller surprised, even
stunned, many in the audience that day with his most positive assessment of
where the world stands now regarding war and peace. I was there at the
gathering and I myself was stunned by his remarks. What he said turned my
head around and offered me a new way to see what is going on in the world.
My synopsis of his remarks is below:
"I'm so honored to be here," he said. "I'm so honored to be alive at such a
miraculous time in history. I'm so moved by what's going on in our world
(I was shocked. I thought -- Where has he been? What has he been reading? Has
he seen the newspapers? Is he senile? Has he lost it? What is he talking
Dr. Muller proceeded to say, "Never before in the history of the world has
there been a global, visible, public, viable, open dialogue and conversation
about the very legitimacy of war".
The whole world is in now having this critical and historic
dialogue--listening to all kinds of points of view and positions about going
to war or not going to war. In a huge global public conversation the world is
asking-"Is war legitimate? Is it illegitimate? Is there enough evidence to
warrant an attack? Is there not enough evidence to warrant an attack?
What will be the consequences? The costs? What will happen after a war? How
will this set off other conflicts? What might be peaceful alternatives? What
kind of negotiations are we not thinking of? What are the real intentions for
All of this, he noted, is taking place in the context of the United Nations
Security Council, the body that was established in 1949 for exactly this
purpose. He pointed out that it has taken us more than fifty years to realize
that function, the real function of the U.N. And at this moment in history--
the United Nations is at the center of the stage. It is the place where these
conversations are happening, and it has become in these last months and
weeks, the most powerful governing body on earth, the most powerful container
for the world's effort to wage peace rather than war. Dr. Muller was almost
in tears in recognition of the fulfillment of this dream.
"We are not at war," he kept saying. We, the world community, are WAGING
peace. It is difficult, hard work. It is constant and we must not let up. It
is working and it is an historic milestone of immense proportions. It has
never happened before-never in human history-and it is happening now-every
day every hour-waging peace through a global conversation. He pointed out
that the conversation questioning the validity of going to war has gone on
for hours, days, weeks, months and now more than a year, and it may go on and
on. "We're in peacetime," he kept saying. "Yes, troops are being moved. Yes,
warheads are being lined up. Yes, the aggressor is angry and upset and
spending a billion dollars a day preparing to attack. But not one shot has
been fired. Not one life has been lost. There is no war. It's all a
It is tense, it is tough, it is challenging, AND we are in the most
significant and potent global conversation and public dialogue in the history
of the world. This has not happened before on this scale ever before-not
before WWI or WWII, not before Vietnam or Korea, this is new and it is a
stunning new era of Global listening, speaking, and responsibility.
In the process, he pointed out, new alliances are being formed. Russia and
China on the same side of an issue is an unprecedented outcome. France and
Germany working together to wake up the world to a new way of seeing the
situation. The largest peace demonstrations in the history of the world are
taking place--and we are not at war! Most peace demonstrations in recent
history took place when a war was already waging, sometimes for years, as in
the case of Vietnam.
"So this," he said, "is a miracle. This is what "waging peace " looks like."
No matter what happens, history will record that this is a new era, and that
the 21st century has been initiated with the world in a global dialogue
looking deeply, profoundly and responsibly as a global community at the
legitimacy of the actions of a nation that is desperate to go to war.
Through these global peace-waging efforts, the leaders of that nation are
being engaged in further dialogue, forcing them to rethink, and allowing all
nations to participate in the serious and horrific decision to go to war or
Dr. Muller also made reference to a recent New York Times article that
pointed out that up until now there has been just one superpower-the United
States, and that that has created a kind of blindness in the vision of the
U.S. But now, Dr. Muller asserts, there are two superpowers: the United
States and the merging, urging voice of the people of the world.
All around the world, people are waging peace. To Robert Muller, one of the
great advocates of the United Nat ions, it is nothing short of a miracle and
it is working. Let us pray that it continues to work.