"When rhetoric in the classical sense, the art of speaking, declines, wars proliferate.
War begins where Dialogue ends.
The rhetorical art is perhaps the best guarantee we have for peace.
We have debased language to an instument, a mere means. After we have made a half-hearted attempt to overcome our differences in opinion rhetorically, and our efforts have failed, we give up."
Raimon Panikkar, Board of Trustees of the IPU-Project
by Uwe Morawetz, Initiator and Chairman of the IPU-Project
In 1989, shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, my vision of the Peace University was inspired through a personal encounter with Sun Bear, a Native American. With our eyes cast over the Wall, he told of an intercultural medicine wheel gathering that transcended all barriers, bringing people together of diverse cultural backgrounds to learn from one another and plot a new, unified path for the future.
With the help of Petra Kelly, I found my way to H.H. the Dalai Lama, who invited me to India in 1992. By becoming the initial patron for the project of a Peace University, he opened many doors. Thirteen further Nobel Peace Prize Laureates have joined the Dalai Lama in offering their sponsorship. Almost as if on their own, new networks of people developed who were excited about the idea of a Peace University and believed in its significance. Through Horst-Eberhard Richter, I met Valentin Falin, for example; through him, Egon Bahr; through Egon Bahr, Henry Kissinger; who all came to Berlin in 1993, for the first time after Cold War, to discuss the meaning of secret diplomacy in ending the East-West conflict and future developments in Europe.
|H.H. the Dalai Lama, Oktober 1993 |
Concert Hall, Berlin
Drawing on these experiences, it is my desire with the Peace University to create a forum where the central goal is to generate a new culture of dialogue and contention out of which much-needed paths for joint work can evolve. To generate the atmosphere for open dialogue, where something truly novel can originate, it is important to accept without prejudice people who take a wide range of approaches, without reducing them to the limits of one's own experiences, without pursuing a rigid political agenda or worldview. Only when we achieve the most difficult - to listen to one another, to sense nuances, to open ourselves to the view of language of the "other", not to struggle over viewpoints, demanding the superiority of one's own position, but rather to learn from one another - can there be peace for one another and understanding.