Greetings of love and peace.
On this 40th anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy...in these fearful times of tyrants and wars of and on terror...of cyclones and tsunamis and earthquakes...of callous governments more concerned with their own power than with serving the needs of their people...of catastrophic environmental degradation...
...in these fearful times where we must claim hope and be agents of hope, I write to invite you to begin now to plan your part in making the International Day of Peace, 21 September 2008 an unprecedented global exercise of active hope.
I write with a call to action.
In the spring of 1968, in the space of two shattering months, the United States and our world lost two extraordinary leaders - Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated on 4 April; and Bobby Kennedy, assassinated on 6 June.
Having no way to know that an assassin's bullet would claim his own life two months later, Bobby Kennedy broke the news of King's assassination to a large, predominantly African American gathering in Indianapolis, Indiana.
He acknowledged the incredible loss of a leader who had dedicated his life "to love and justice." He acknowledged the black community's understandable impulse toward bitterness, division and even violence. He invoked his own pain at the assassination of his brother, John F. Kennedy, also by a white man.
And, in King's spirit, he raised a vision for those gathered:
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
These words ring down the decades with the power of prophetic truth - What we need in the world is not division; what we need in the world is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer, regardless of religion, culture, ethnicity, nationality.
These words ring down the decades with a challenge to all who would build a better tomorrow - this is our moment to renew visions of hope in our hearts. And to be leaders in the journey from fear to hope...from division to solidarity...from violence and lawlessness to love, wisdom and compassion...from injustice to justice...
So what are we to do, we of URI who are dedicated to creating cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings?
Certainly, we have the work before us in this moment.
And I call us to begin now to work to make this coming International Day of Peace (IDP) a transformative global engagement of prayer and action for a world of peace, justice and healing.
You will be hearing more about the IDP in the coming days. I urge you to take seriously the information and invitations that will come your way.
Let us build something magnificent together. We are limited only by our imagination and our commitment.
In gratitude for your leadership and commitment...
Executive Director, URI