First, let’s look at the current veil of tears and then lift it up to reveal a possible better future.

The transatlantic defence alliance has been expanding and flexing its muscles. Russia and China feel threatened and are trying to secure their regional influence at any cost. The US has begun to modernize their nuclear weapons, with estimated costs up to a trillion dollars. Affected by this modernization are also the nuclear weapons stationed in Germany. The Cold War is on everyone’s lips again and a rapid “climate warming” seems to be underwat. The US is pushing NATO member countries to increase their military spending to 2% of their GDP. Worldwide the spending on weapons currently stands at 1.7 trillion dollars already. “The World is Over-Armed and Peace is Underfunded” as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed very well.

Peace does not come easy

That’s not all. The disaster in the Middle East is a tragedy without end that has created large refugee movements, people drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, religious fanaticism and breeding grounds for terrorist groups. The NATO member Turkey receives carte blanche and Erdogan’s megalomaniacal government is just getting started. The excesses of violence dominate the daily news, whether it is a rampage, a terrorist attacks by a single perpetrator or by terrorist networks such as IS, it doesn’t matter that much. Maybe it remains to be added that the peace movement is weakening worldwide and can only dream of international mobilizations such as in 2003 against the Iraq war.

As so much else in this world, peace doesn’t come easily and peace is not just the absence of military conflicts. Peace is an increasing overcoming of violence in its various forms of expression, be it physical violence, economic violence, oppression, discrimination, fanaticism etc.

No peace without reconciliation

The slogan “For an atmosphere of peace” wasn’t chosen by chance for the World Congress organized by the ‘International Peace Bureau’ in Berlin from 30.09. – 02.10. To stand up for peace means to confront the contamination of violence in society and in the personal environment, to confront and to create an atmosphere of tolerance and nonviolence, to spread hope, to be helpful, to act in solidarity and to stand together, to stand up for each other, to approach each other, to communicate openly, to address prejudice and to resolve conflicts nonviolently. Then and only then will it make sense to go to the streets to stop our politicians, led by the economic interests of the military-industrial complex, that continues going round this spiral of violence leading humanity to a global disaster.

Let us face the challenge of peace. Berlin seems to be the right place and this peace congress the right occasion to call worldwide for a living peace sign on the eve of the International Day of Nonviolence (Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday) on October 1. It should be a human sign for Peace and Nonviolence, an act of individual reconciliation. Without reconciliation there is no peace!

The search for peace begins in our own hearts and must be taken into the world and into the streets. And there we will meet hopefully…