I wish to thank the organizers for inviting me here to the 2003 World Conference Against A and H Bombs.
My daughter Deora died in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, when her plane crashed in the countryside of Pennsylvania. Two days later, I believe I heard my daughter's spirit, saying, "Everything is all right, father. Please don't worry. Just do the right thing."
Since that day, the right thing for me to do has been to speak out, and to do more to understand and care for all people in the world. Last year I visited Afghanistan with a group called Peaceful Tomorrows to help the people there who suffered the effects of the bombing of their country by the United States. Last December I visited the Kyoto Peace Museum.
The lives of all Americans have changed since September 11th. Some people are now more eager to use violence and killing to subdue others. Our government even defines war, even attacking first, as useful. The changes in my life are quite different, however. I have developed a greater understanding of the uselessness of war. I believe that in every case, we can look back to the history and find the corruptions, the selfishness, and the greed which lead to war.
President Bush called his response to September 11th a "crusade", like the religious wars between Christians and Muslims hundreds of years ago. He sent soldiers to war, praying "God Bless America". Thich Nhat Hanh, the great Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, said "We must tell this president that God cannot bless one country against another. He must learn to pray better than that."
Immediately after September 11th. My first reaction was to ask, "What were the real causes?" I believe the true causes of September 11th were: First, the lack of respect and love for all people by all people; Second, the lack of peacefulness within each person, which would lead to peace among all people; and Third, the lack of sharing of the resources of the world, among all people, all life, and the world itself.
No one knows whether human beings can truly replace their feelings and institutions of aggression with feelings and institutions of peace. But a continuing effort must be made to do so. My organization, September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, agrees with this point of view. Our organization gets its name from a speech by Martin Luther King, who said "Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows."
I close with a poem by my daughter, written sometime when she was a teenager, and found in her journal book: People ask "who"?. People ask "what?". People ask "when?". People ask "where?". People ask "why?". I ask for peace!