While “peace” can refer to an inner peace as well as civil peace, war is usually about armed conflict involving physical violence between groups, states, or nations. In a war, each party competes for power over the other or for freedom from oppressive power. What are some of the reflections of great thinkers about war?
We cannot have peace if we are only concerned with peace. War is not an accident. It is the logical outcome of a certain way of life. If we want to attack war, we have to attack that way of life.
I have now reigned about 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot. They amount to fourteen.
The ballot is stronger than the bullet.
Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose — and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
In war, truth is the first casualty.
One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other.
When a war breaks out, people say: ‘It’s too stupid, it can’t last long.’ But though a war may be ‘too stupid,’ that doesn’t prevent its lasting.
[I]n such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners.
I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.
A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.
Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction.
All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.
No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.
Till the war-drum throbb`d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl`d; In the parliament of man; the Federation of the world.
War will stop when we no longer praise it, or give it any attention at all. Peace will come wherever it is sincerely invited.
‘One of the main reasons that it is so easy to march men off to war,’ says Ernest Becker, is that ‘each of them feels sorry for the man next to him who will die.’
We make war that we may live in peace.
In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers.
Now these questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease — the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.
Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work — that goes on, it adds up.
There’s a graveyard in northern France where all the dead boys from D-Day are buried. The white crosses reach from one horizon to the other. I remember looking it over and thinking it was a forest of graves. But the rows were like this, dizzying, diagonal, perfectly straight, so after all it wasn’t a forest but an orchard of graves. Nothing to do with nature, unless you count human nature.
Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice.
I am an opponent of war and of war preparations and an opponent of universal military training and conscription; but entirely apart from that issue, I hold that segregation in any part of the body politic is an act of slavery and an act of war.
There never was a good war or a bad peace.
For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.
Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?
I would like it if men had to partake in the same hormonal cycles to which we’re subjected monthly. Maybe that’s why men declare war — because they have a need to bleed on a regular basis.
The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.
Warmaking doesn’t stop warmaking. If it did, our problems would have stopped millennia ago.
Everyone’s a pacifist between wars. It’s like being a vegetarian between meals.
Wherever there was injustice, war, discrimination against women, gays and the disadvantaged, I did my best to show up and exert moral persuasion.
The woman power of this nation can be the power which makes us whole and heals the rotten community, now so shattered by war and poverty and racism. I have great faith in the power of women who will dedicate themselves whole-heartedly to the task of remaking our society.
In peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons.
The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
If we are going to stop wars on this earth, we are going to have to make war on hunger our number one priority.
It’s our tendency to approach every problem as if it were a fight between two sides. We see it in headlines that are always using metaphors for war. It’s a general atmosphere of animosity and contention that has taken over our public discourse.
They have not wanted Peace at all; they have wanted to be spared war — as though the absence of war was the same as peace.
I believe that the entire effort of modern society should be concentrated on the endeavor to outlaw war as a method of the solution of problems between nations.
I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes.
Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
We want to live at any price; so we cannot burden ourselves with feelings which, though they might be ornamental enough in peace-time, would be out of place here.
A hospital alone shows what war is.
Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.
I had grown up in a humanist atmosphere, and war to me was never anything but horror, mutilation and senseless destruction, and I knew that many great and wise people felt the same way about it.
I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.
All war propaganda, all the screaming and the lies, and the hatred comes invariably from people who are not fighting.