Nine Nobel laureates from world’s hot spots share practical strategies for defusing major tragedies.
Hopkins (Religious Studies/Univ. of Virginia) organized and directed the 1998 Nobel Peace Laureates Conference, of which this is a record. Relevant to the crises in East Timor, Burma, and Tibet discussed here, Hopkins is also president of the Institute for Asian Democracy. All the participants approach the goal of peace from their own experience. Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor (1996 honoree) takes issue with Asian leaders who claim that “human rights are Western values.” He stresses the rights of self-determinism of dehumanized populations in annexed territories. Aiming for the heart of the matter, Betty Williams of Northern Ireland (1977 honoree) begins with a mother’s struggle to protect her child; from the fearful rage of individual families, she feels that entire nations can be forced to stop hurting innocent children. For Rigoberta Menchù Tum of Guatemala (1992 honoree), the emphasis is how stereotypes of the majority culture often inadvertently harm the indigenous minority. In the historic upheavals of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s (1984 honoree) South Africa, the issues involve restorative justice and reconciliation for those who suffered under apartheid. Simply forgetting past wrongs only “revictimize the victims.” While Christian the Tutu depicts a white victim asking forgiveness of her black firebomber, the Buddhist Dalai Lama (1989 honoree) appeals to an inner human warmth and caring independent of religious belief. Other participants who respond to questions from people like history professor Julian Bond include Oscar Arias Sanchez of Central America (1987 honoree), a representative of Burma’s San Suu Kyi (1991 honoree), and two founders of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (honored in 1977).
The road to world peace will be long and difficult, but Hopkins helps lead the way with this landmark book. (10 b&w photos)