The Vanishing Quaker

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Peace Jam

Excerpts from an article on the latest Peace Jam

A Weekend with Nobel Peace Laureates
by John Dear

Archbishop Tutu was just one of ten Nobel Peace prize winners speaking to three thousand youth last weekend in Denver at PeaceJam, an international program which brings youth from around the world together with Nobel Peace Laureates --- ten of them in this case --- the largest gathering ever in North America. Founded by a dynamic young couple, Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff, PeaceJam is one of the most exciting, empowering youth programs in the nation.

My friend Mairead Maguire, the Nobel laureate from Belfast, whose writings I edited into the collection, “The Vision of Peace,” asked me to accompany her to the events. I had traveled with her before, along with our friend Adolfo Perez Esquivel, the Nobel laureate from Argentina, to Iraq in 1999. And recently, Archbishop Tutu, laureate from South Africa, wrote a forward for my forthcoming Doubleday book, “Transfiguration.”

Besides reconnecting with these heroes of mine, I got to meet Jose Ramos Horta, Prime Minister of East Timor; President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica; Jody Williams of the Landmines Campaign, Shrini Ebadi of Iran, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala, and Betty Williams of Northern Ireland. And at one point during the weekend, I received a blessing from the Dalai Lama. The weekend concluded with a “Global Call to Action with the Youth of the World,” a plea to fight poverty, racism, environmental destruction, war and nuclear weapons.

Such wondrously inspiring days. The weekend over, I drove Mairead to New Mexico, where she spoke in several churches and gave media interviews and toured Los Alamos.

It was gratifying to meet young people from around the world. At one point, hundreds lined up at the microphone to say briefly what inspires them, before they received Tutu’s blessing. One fifteen year old said, “I’m inspired by all those who stand up against the current and speak out for peace. After all, only dead fish go with the flow!”


And Jody Williams asked, “What has the war and violence done in Iraq? It’s only turned Iraq into a training ground for terrorists. You cannot bring change through the barrel of a gun. If we really want to disarm the world of nuclear weapons, we should begin first here at home.”

“Work for peace is really hard work,” she continued. “Peacemaking means getting up every single day and working hard for global peace. It’s not doves or nice paintings or bad poetry; it’s hard work. And that’s the only way to make the world better. Peace is economic and social justice, and we have to work hard for that.”


John Dear is a Jesuit priest, peace activist and author of “You Will Be My Witnesses” (Orbis) and “Living Peace” (Doubleday). For information on the Nobel Laureates gathering, see: For information on the campaign to stop the war on Iraq, see: See also:


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