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Considering the state of the Middle East, it seemed apt to offer a collection of quotations on peace. But first, I thought, it might be wise to attempt to define what is meant by peace. Pardon my quoting a man, but Rabbi Benjamin Blech, the author of Understanding Judaism as well as many other books, has written, "Whenever Jews meet or depart from each other they say the word shalom. It means "peace," but can also mean "hello" and "goodbye." It is the ultimate prayer. Peace between nations. Peace within families. Peace of mind and serenity within oneself. "

Many times it has occurred to me that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Thinking about peace, I've come to the same conclusion: its opposite is not war but indifference. As Ursula LeGuin has written, "Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new." Peace, like love, is a process. It has to be made all the time. Among nations, between family members, within oneself.

To me, peace is the visceral sensation of balance and harmony, the daily mantra I recite for myself, for my family, for my friends, for all peoples of the world.

And so to you, dear readers, I say, shalom.

- In sisterhood, Elaine Bernstein Partnow, Editor


The price of peace is to abandon fear and replace it with faith -- faith that if we obey God's laws we will receive God's blessing. The price of peace is to abandon hate and allow love to reign supreme in our hearts -- love for all our fellow human beings over the world. The price of peace is to abandon arrogance and replace it with repentance and humility, remembering that the way of peace is the way of love. The price of peace is to abandon greed and replace it with giving, so that none will be spiritually injured by having more than they need while others in the world still have less than they need.
Peace Pilgrim (1908-1981), American pacifist, walker, philosopher, Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words (1982)

This is the way of peace -- overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.

We seem always ready to pay the price for war. Almost gladly we give our time and our treasures -- our limbs and even our lives -- for war. But we expect to get peace for nothing.

Women have a great responsibility. . .to try. . .to prevent another war. I hope. . .that we will be able to use this great [atomic] energy. . .for peaceful work.
Lise Meitner (1878-1968), Austrian/German physicist, physics educator; fled from Nazis to Sweden in 1938; moved to England (1966); Germany's first woman full physics professor; co-discovered, with Otto Hahn, proctactinium; Enrico Fermi Award, 1966. Quoted in Twentieth-Century Women Scientists by Lisa Yount (1996).

. . .I am weary of them that hate peace.
Jemima Wilkinson (1752-1819), American religious leader; a.k.a. the Publick Universal Friend; founded the Jerusalem Township, New York, 1794. Quoted in Pioneer Prophetess by Herbert A. Wisbey, Jr. (1964).

The only alternative to war is peace and the only road to peace is negotiations.
Golda Meir (1898-1978), American/Israeli politician; Israel's first minister of labor, 1949-56; foreign minister, 1956-66 and prime minister, 1969-74. Quoted in Twentieth-Century Women Political Leaders by Claire Price-Groff (1998).

We desire nothing more than peace, but we cannot equate peace merely with an apathetic readiness to be destroyed.
If hostile forces gather for our proposed destruction, they must not demand that we provide them with ideal conditions for the realization of their plans. . . . The concept of annihilating Israel is a legacy of Hitler's war against the Jewish people, and it is no mere coincidence that the soldiers of Nasser had an Arabic translation of MORE
Op. Cit. ,"The Israeli Action in Sinai: 1956" statement, General Assembly of United Nations (5 December 1956).

Peace, she supposed, was contingent upon a certain disposition of the soul, a disposition to receive the gift that only detachment from self made possible.
Elizabeth Goudge (1900-1984), English/American writer. The Child from the Sea, 1970

For it isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), American lecturer, humanitarian, First Lady, government official, writer; wife of Franklin D. R- (1882-1945, politician; 32nd U.S. President, 1933-45); niece of Theodore R- (1858-1919; war hero, politician; 26th U.S. president, 1901-09); U.S. delegate to United Nations, 1945-53, 1961; United Nations Prize, 1968. Broadcast, Voice of America, 11 November 1951

Perhaps in His wisdom the Almighty is trying to show us that a leader may chart the way, may point out the road to lasting peace, but that many leaders and many peoples must do the building.
Op. Cit., Syndicated Newspaper Column (6 April 1945).

It seems to me . . . we have reached a place where it is not a question of Acan we live in the same world and [email protected] but Awe must live in the same world and learn to [email protected]
Op. Cit., Quoted in Eleanor: The Years Alone by Joseph P. Lash (1972).

This I know. This I believe with all my heart. If we want a free and peaceful world, if we want to make the deserts bloom and man grow to greater dignity as a human being -- we can do it!
Op. Cit., Tomorrow is Now (1963).

High above hate I dwell,/
O storms! Farewell.
Louise Imogen Guiney (1861-1920), American/English writer, poet. "The Sanctuary", N.D.

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.
Indira Gandhi (1917-1984), Indian politician, leader, political; daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964; Indian prime minister, 1947-64, assassinated); president, National Congress Party, 1959-60; minister of information, 1964; prime minister, 1966-77, 1980-84; first woman prime minister of India; assassinated. Quoted in Indira Speaks by Dhiren Mullick (1972).

There are many kinds of wars. One war has just ended but I do not know if peace has come.

Peace we want because there is another war to fight against poverty, disease and ignorance. We have promises to keep to our people of work, food, clothing, and shelter, health and education.
Op. Cit., Quoted in Indira Gandhi by Mithrapuram K. Alexander (1968).

The world would have peace if the men of politics would only follow the Gospel.
Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), a.s.a. Brigit, Birgitta, Brigitta, a.k.a. Sibyl of the North; Swedish mystic, author, nun; d. Sir Birger, w. Prince Ulf Gudmarsson of Nericia, m. St. Katherine of Sweden; founded religious order of the Bridgettines; her vision of the nativity supplanted the accepted Pseudo-Bonaventura version and influenced Western art, music, and literature. Quoted in Revelations by Anthony Butkovich (1972).

I would like to be deaf to the world's noise, /
to hear with a clear fully absorbed mind, /
that lofty angelic music -- sweet notes -- /
tell us that real peace belongs to real love.
Vittoria da Colonna , a.k.a. marchesa de Pescara (1492-1547/9), Italian poet; d. Fabrizio C- (d. 1520; Roman noble), w. Ferrante Francesco d'Avalos, friend of Michelangelo (1475-1564; Ital. sculptor, painter, poet). Amaro Lagrimar, The Sonnets of Vittoria Colonna, Ellen Moody, tr., 1999

There cannot be peaceful coexistence in the ideological realm. Peaceful coexistence corrupts.
Jiang Ching (1914-1991), Chinese public official; w. Mao Tse-tung (founder, People's Republic of China, 1892- 1976). Quoted in Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution by Stanley Karnow (1972).

. . .when care-dispelling peace has returned, forgetful of labour, commons and fathers together lie buried in lethargic sleep.
Sulpicia, a.k.a. the Roman Sappho (80?-99 C.E.), Roman poet. Satire (ca. 90 C.E.).

Everything I have ever written or hoped to write is dedicated. . .to our hope of peace and dignity and freedom in the world, not just as black people, or as Negroes, but as free human beings in a world community.
Margaret Walker , a.s.a. M- W- Alexander (1915- ), African-American educator, poet, novelist. Quoted in By a Woman Writt Joan Goulianos, ed. (1974).

Let a new earth rise. Let another world be/
born. Let a bloody/
peace be written in the sky. Let a second/
full of courage issue forth;/
let a people loving free --/
dom come to growth./
Op. Cit., For My People, 1942

My comments to the thousands of persons at the peace march [the 1971 Another Mother for Peace march in Los Angeles] were directed not just against the Vietnam War, but against all war, against the masculine mystique which glorifies violence as a solution to problems, and against the vast diverting of American energies and resources from socially needed programs into social destructive wars.
Aileen Clarke Hernandez (1926- ), American business executive, feminist, public affairs counselor; president of NOW, 1970-71. Quoted in the NOW Newsletter (29 April 1971).

We could have peace in one year if women were organized.
Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973), American politician, suffragist, pacifist; U.S. Congresswoman (R-Montana), 1917-1919 and 1941-1943; first woman elected to U.S. Congress or to any national government; cofounder, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), 1918; NOW Susan B. Anthony Hall of Fame, 1972; only person in Congressional history to vote against U.S. entry into World Wars I and II. Quoted in Women Suffragists by Diana Star Helmer (1998 ).

. . . humanity is still far from that stage of maturity needed for the realizations of its aspiration, for the construction, that is, of a harmonious and peaceful society and the elimination of wars. Men are not yet ready to shape their own destinies, to control and direct world events, of which -- instead -- they become the victims.
Maria Montessori (1870-1952), Italian physician, educator, writer; originator of Montessori Method of education; first Italian woman to receive M.D. from University of Rome. The Absorbent Mind (1967).

My soul. . .can see no other remedy pleasing to God than peace. Peace, peace, therefore, for the love of Christ
Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), Italian mystic, diplomat; patron saint of the Dominicans. Quoted in Catherine of Siena: Fire and Blood by Igino Girodani; Thomas J. Tobin, tr. (1959).

This place is peace and would be silent peace were it not for an Eisteddfod of small birds outvying each other with an eagerness which cannot wait until the last candidate has finished.
Margaret Fairless Barber, pseud. Michael Fairless (1869-1901), English writer. The Complete Works of Michael Fairless (1932).

And yield the torn world to the angel of peace.
Lydia Howard Sigourney (1791-1865), American magazine editor, author, poet, teacher. Select Poems (1841).

We will try to be holy,/
We will try to repair the world given to us to hand on./
Precious is this treasure of words and knowledge and deeds/
that moves inside us./
Holy is the hand that works for peace and for justice,/
holy is the mouth that speaks for goodness/
holy is the foot that walks toward mercy.
Marge Piercy (1936- ), American editor, magazine, poet, feminist, novelist, writer; founder of Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS). The Art of Blessing the Day (1999).

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.
Dorothy Thompson (1894-1961), American writer, journalist; ex-w. Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951, novelist). On the Record (May 1958).

Whenever we experience happiness and peace in our natures, we are at the gate where the medicines of joy, laughter, play, fun, and humor flourish.
Angeles Arrien (1940- ), American consultant, corporate, anthropologist, educator, nonfiction writer; founder, Angeles Arrien Foundation For Cross Cultural Education and Research. The Fabric of the Future: Women Visionaries of Today Illuminate the Path to Tomorrow, M.J. Ryan, ed. (1998).

It is wise statesmanship which suggests that in times of peace we must prepare for war, and it is no less wise benevolence that makes preparation in the hour of peace for assuaging the ills that are sure to accompany war.
Clara Barton, a.k.a. "The Angel of the Battlefield" (1821-1912), American writer, nurse; founder of the American Red Cross; Hall of Fame, 1976. The Red Cross (1898).

Domestic peace! best joy of earth,/
When shall we all thy value learn?
Anne Brontë, pseud. Acton Bell, Alexander Hybernia (1820-1849), English poet, novelist; sister Charlotte B-* and Emily B-*. The Complete Poems of Anne Brontë, Clement Shorter, ed. (1920).

. . .the task of women and men who do not bear arms. . .is to fight for peace. . .do your part, for God's sake. As for me I will spare nothing.
Jeanne d'Albret (1528-1572), French royalty. Quoted in Queen of Navarre: Jeanne d'Albret by Nancy Lyman Roelker (1968).

O I know they make war because they want peace; they hate so that they may live; and they destroy the present to make the world safe for the future. When have they not done and said they did it for that?
Elizabeth Smart (1913-1986), Canadian poet, author. Necessary Secrets, Alice Van Wart, ed. (1991).

. . .there is a god of battle as well as a God of peace. . .
Margaret Morris (1737?-1816), American healer, diarist. Quoted in The Women of the American Revolution, vol II, by Elizabeth F. Ellet (1848).

. . . a people's peace -- a peace without victory, a peace without conquests or indemnities.
Helen Keller (1880-1968), American deaf & blind lecturer, writer; Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1964. The Story of My Life (1903).

. . .the Lovedu* believe that only a fool fails to find peaceable compromise, and only the truly stupid come to blows. Compromise, appeasement, reconciliation, tolerance, peace. The great ideals of Lovedu culture.
Ann Jones (1937- ), American nonfiction writer. "Finding the Lovedu", The Women's Review of Books, Vol. XV, No. 5 (February 1998).
* A Southern African people.

It is within the families themselves where peace can begin. If families can learn to respect their members, and deal with conflict resolution, that would be the first step to keeping peace on a global level.
Susan Partnow (1947- ), American consultant, conflict management & organizational training, peace activist, speech therapist, author; sister, Elaine P-, author. Puget Sound Consumers Coop Newsletter (Spring 1986).

We discovered that peace at any price is no peace at all. . . . We discovered that life at any price has no value whatever; that life is nothing without the privileges, the prides, the rights, the joys which make it worth living, and also worth giving. And we also discovered that there is something more hideous, more atrocious than war or MORE
Eve Curie (1904- ), French/American writer, pianist, lecturer, war correspondent; daugher, Pierre Pierre (1859-1906; physical chemist) and Marie C-*; sister, Iréne Joliot-C-*. Address, American Booksellers Association, New York (9 April 1940).

I shall not hold my little peace; for me/
There is no peace but one.
Alice Christiana Meynell (1845/47-1922), English poet, literary critic,"The Poet to the Birds", N.D.

The peace crusade is going to take a long time. I will devote the rest of my life to world peace, but that will not be long enough. I will encourage others to carry on the work when I am done.
Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), American poet, women's rights activist, civil rights activist, suffragist, lecturer, writer, social reformer; founder, Mother's Day (orig. 2 June 1872), as a peace day; founder, Girl Scouts of America. Seattle Times, A8 (4 July 1992).

CRUSTY CROWBAR. I too am almost sick of the parade/
Of honours purchas'd at the price of peace.
Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1758), American historian, playwright, poet; sister, James Otis (1725-83; Revolution leader, publicist), wife, Gen. James W- (member, Massachusetts legislature). The Group (1775).

The mind should be at peace but the heart debauches it perpetually.
Marie de Sévigné (1626-1696), French salonist, letter writer; wife, Marquis Henri de S-, mother, Comtesse Françoise Grignan. Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Friends (1811).

A disturber of the peace, am I? Yes indeed, of my own peace. Do you call this disturbing the peace? . . .Instead of spending my time in frivolous amusements, I have visited the plague-infested and carried out the dead.
Katherine Zell, a.k.a. Katharina Schutzinn (1497-98-1562), German hymnist, reformer, activist, religious; wife, Matthew Z- (Protestant minister). Letter to the city of Strasbourg (1557).

Radio, sewing machine, bookends, ironing board and that great big piano lamp -- peace, that's what I like. Butterbean vines planted all along the front where the strings are.
Eudora Welty (1909-2001), American writer, photographer; Pulitzer, 1973; Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1980; American Booksellers Association Award, 1981, 1984; National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, 1972. A Curtain of Green and Other Stories (1936).

The first step in the direction of a world rule of law is the recognition that peace no longer is an unobtainable ideal but a necessary condition of continued human existence.
Margaret Mead (1901-1977), American editor, museum curator, writer, scientist, anthropology; wife, Gregory Bateson (1904-80, anthropologist), daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson and Edward Sherwood C; Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1979. New York Times Magazine (26 November 1961).

TILLERTON. And I wonder if peace is enough for any man. . . .
Zoë Akins (1886-1958), American playwright, screenwriter, writer, poet; 26 November 1961. Greatness (1922).

If peace, he thought (as he had often thought before), only had the music and pageantry of war, there'd be no more wars.
Sophie Kerr (1880-1965), American writer. The Man Who Knew the Date (1951).

Her father said, "You know, my dears, the world has been abnormal for so long that we've forgotten what it's like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.
Madeleine L'Engle (1918- ), American children's writer. A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978).

Years when the enemy is in our state,/
and liberty, safe in the people's hands,/
is never safe and peace is never safe./
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), American biographer, writer, civil rights activist, poet, translator, film editor; National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1942; American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1942. Waterlily Fire (1935-1962) (1962).

There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death. Any attempt to prove otherwise constitutes unacceptable behavior.
Fran Lebowitz (1951- ), American humorist, journalist. Metropolitan Life (1978).

It's ironic, but until you can free those final monsters within the jungle of yourself, your life, your soul is up for grabs.
Rona Barrett (1938- ), American columnist, television personality. Miss Rona: An Autobiography

Return to "Women of Wisdom" Main Page

Elaine Bernstein Partnow is the editor of "Women of Wisdom," and she is a perfect fit for this task. Compiler of the noted work The Quotable Woman, The First 5,000 Years, Elaine started working on the first edition, way back in 1974, she was making the transition from actor to writer. Now in its 5th edition. The Quotable Woman has become the standard book of quotations for women's studies programs and organizations all over the English-speaking world. She also wrote The Female Dramatist a few years back, and has just came out with a new collection, The Quotable Jewish Woman, Wisdom, Inspiration and Humor from the Mind and Heart. Elaine has marveled at how her work in women's history has changed who she is and how she is. Ever eager to share that experience with others, she merged her two passions - acting and women's studies - and began, in 1984, to present living history portraits of notable women to civic and educational institutions. To date she has given more than 400 such presentations to upwards of 50,000 people, not only across the U.S.A., but in Mexico and even China! You can find out more about Elaine by visiting her web site: www.TheQuotableWoman.com.


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