We live in frightening times, and it is easy to think that as individuals there is nothing much we can do about the violence and horror taking place in so many parts of the world.
But individuals can and do make a difference and always have done so.
Historically, it is easy to think of moral monsters who made a difference in the most reprehensible of ways—e.g., Hitler, Stalin, Ghengis Khan. But it’s also easy to think of many individuals who have made a difference by fighting for peace and justice–and I don’t mean just Christ, Mohammed, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa.
I mean Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Father Daniel Berrigan, Father Robert Drinan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Cindy Sheehan, Amos Oz, Najeeb Mahfooz, Muhammed Yunnus, Howard Zinn, the signatories to the Camp David Peace talks that led to peace between Israel and Egypt, Aung San, and the young man who stood up to the tank at Tiananman Square.
There may be disagreements about who should be on the list of individuals who have sought to live a life of moral engagement by contributing to the cause of peace. What matters is that we recognize that any individual, regardless of his or her religion, ethnicity, social class, education, gender, or nationality can make a difference, and can help in the very human struggle against violence and injustice.
Who are the people you admire for taking a courageous stance for peace?
Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology
Note: This post was adapted from my previously published article in Peace Psychology (a publication of the American Psychological Association), Spring, 2009.