To Our International Leaders
At a time when our television screens and newspapers are regularly filled with reports of shocking acts of violence, people talk of a growing climate of fear and ask what we can do to counter it. There are many different types of fear and it is important to discover whether our fear has a valid basis or not. Some, such as fear of violence or bloodshed are genuine and well founded. Others tend to be our own mental creations or projections.
For example, although today’s world requires us to accept the oneness of humanity, a lot of people focus instead on what divides us. Many of the world’s problems, conflicts and fears arise because we have lost sight of the common experience that binds us all together as a human family. We tend to forget that despite the diversity of race, religion, ideology and so forth, people are equal in their basic wish for peace and happiness. In the past, particular communities could afford to think of one another as fundamentally separate. Some could even exist in total isolation. But nowadays, whatever happens in one region eventually affects many other areas. Within the context of our new interdependence, self-interest clearly lies in considering the interest of others.
I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others, however different from us they may seem to be, automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.
When we generate and maintain warm feelings of compassion and loving kindness, we create a kind of openness. Through that, we can communicate much more easily with other people. We find that all human beings are just like us, so we are able to relate to them more easily. That in turn gives rise to a spirit of friendship in the context of which there is less need to hide what we think and feel, and as a result, feelings of fear, self-doubt, and insecurity are automatically dispelled. It enables us to place our trust in other people and dissolves the sense of apprehension that engenders a kind of distance from them.
The twentieth century was marred by conflict and war and their associated feelings of apprehension and fear. It is my sincere hope that we can take steps to ensure that this new century will be characterised instead by non-violence and dialogue, the preconditions of peaceful co-existence. It is natural that in any human society there will be differences and conflicts, but we have to develop confidence that dialogue and the support of friends are a valid alternative to violence in all our relations. If we take the differences between us as grounds for fear and anxiety, fighting and argument, there will be no end to it. All of us will be weakened and diminished.
As long as we live in this world we are bound to encounter problems. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but everyone who faces hardships of one kind or another, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome our troubles.
Improving our world is something in which we all have to participate. Therefore, I urge everyone who reads this to try to do something practical to foster genuine peace in the world and to nurture greater compassion in all our lives.
Jonathan GlennGranoff has for more than 20 years contributed his legal expertise, developed as a successful private attorney, to the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Granoff holds numerous other titles within the peace and security movement and serves on numer- ous governing boards, such as the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, the Lawyers Alliance for World Security, and the Middle Powers Initiative.
He has studied with the Sufi Master Bawa Muhaiyaddeen since his youth and is honored by receiving his namesake, Ahamed Muhaiyaddeen. He has lectured extensively all over the world on the sub- jects relating to peace, security, and human unity. Mr. Granoff is also an author, award-winning screenwriter (“The Constitution: The Document the Created a Nation”), and public speaker. He lives in the Philadelphia area with his family.
In this beautifully considered article, Jonathan Granoff reveals his own thoughts on what represents the true international threat – and it is not as simple as a proliferation of nuclear arms. He invites our con- templation of the true purpose of our ‘living’ and ‘thinking’ – challenging us to ask ‘why’ before ‘how’. He reminds us that without such inquiry, we are susceptible to, as Thoreau stated “improved means to unimproved ends”.
Presentation by Jonathan Granoff, President, Global Security Institute,
delivered at the Millennium Development Goals Awards Ceremony
General Assembly, United Nations
March 17, 2009
The human family is one.
Like any family it needs a home, a place to come together.
The UN aspires to be that home.
That is why it is such an honor to be at the General Assembly tonight. Here one can say we and really mean everyone – everyone, all of us, without boundaries of race, religion, nation, or gender.
This is a place for real family values and policies that serve this one varied, fascinating and funny human family.
In our family tonight there are mothers who must choose which of their children will have enough calories to be alive tomorrow and which might not. Our aunts, our sisters, our mothers should not be in this plight.
We hear so much about Wall Street’s needs and the crisis on Main Street. But for nearly half the human family, their crisis relates to no street. For them, crushing poverty is a dead end.