Jimmy Carter accepted the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, warning that “killing each other’s children” did not help the world learn to live peacefully together.
“War may sometimes be a necessary evil,” Carter said. “But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good.
Carter said, “We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”
The 78-year-old former president said, “I worship Jesus Christ, whom we Christians consider to be the Prince of Peace.”
“He taught us to cross religious boundaries, in service and in love. He repeatedly reached out and embraced Roman conquerors, other Gentiles, and even the more despised Samaritans,” Carter said.
He warned that “distorted theological beliefs” result in “cruel and inhuman acts.”
“Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the scope of God’s mercy and grace, their lives lose all value. We deny personal responsibility when we plant landmines and, days or years later, a stranger to us—often a child—is crippled or killed. From a great distance, we launch bombs or missiles with almost total impunity, and never want to know the number or identity of the victims,” Carter said.
Carter called Martin Luther King Jr. “the greatest leader that my native state has ever produced” and acknowledged that without King’s influence his political career beyond Georgia would have been unlikely.
Quoting from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Carter said that in a symbolic and genuine way a son of former slaves and a son of former slaveowners were “able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood” in Oslo.
Carter called himself “a citizen of a troubled world.”
“The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace,” Carter said.
To read Carter’s complete speech, go to www.cartercenter.org.