British scholar Adam Curle became the first European university professor of Peace Studies in 1973. Just as Dr. Hong and FOWPAL, he taught that love is the only gateway to peace.
by Massimo Introvigne*
*A paper presented at the World Leader Summit of Love and Peace “We Peacebuilding Puzzles: Charting a Path to a New Future,” organized by FOWPAL (Federation of World Love and Peace) on October 9, 2023, at the Hilton San Jose, San Jose, California.
An article already published in Bitter Winter on November 2nd, 2023.
My testimony for peace and love today is that of a scholar. I am not a politician, although I have temporarily served in institutional capacities, having been appointed inter alia in 2011 as the Representative of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) for combating racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance. But I speak here today as a scholar.
Putting together the words “peace and love,” as Dr. Hong and FOWPAL constantly do, may seem to some just a noble and perhaps sugary utopia, detached from the real world. Yet, the connection between peace and love has been seriously studied by academics, who came to the conclusion that indeed love is the most realistic way to peace.
Peace Studies are now taught as an academic discipline in many universities throughout the world. It has not always been so. The idea of creating institutes and chairs of Peace Studies was born within a religious community, the Society of Friends, popularly known as the Quakers. They are well-known for their century-old commitment to peace, which led to their persecution in Europe and their escape to present-day United States, where they founded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Establishing peace studies in universities met with considerable resistance, until the University of Bradford, in the UK, accepted in 1973 to create a Department of Peace Studies, now the largest in the world. Bradford also persuaded Adam Curle, who had been professor of Social Psychology at the universities of Oxford, Exeter, and Harvard, as well as at the University of Ghana, where he had become a Quaker, to become the first European professor of Peace Studies.
Curle, who died in 2006, was a man deeply interested in spirituality. Although he remained a Quaker to the end of his life, he was also influenced by Western esotericism, particularly by the works of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, and by Buddhism. He was a world authority on peace issues and was asked to serve as mediator in international conflicts, including the war between India and Pakistan of 1965 and the Nigerian civil war of 1967–70.
Curle’s spiritual testament is a book he published shortly before he died in 2006, “The Fragile Voice of Love.” It is widely regarded as the most powerful statement in academic Peace Studies literature of the thesis that love and peace are connected. In the book, Curle proposed a spiritual vision that he believed followers of different religions could agree with. It is based on the idea that humans are in touch with two forces, the “Mind of the Universe,” or the benevolent spiritual unity of all that exists (which is not the same as God), and the “Black Cloud,” a “compound of fear and misery” created and fed by all sadness and evil in the world.
Humans, Curle said, are in the middle. If many or most feed the Black Cloud, there is conflict and war. If many or most, on the contrary, attune themselves to the Mind of the Universe, peace prevails. Love is the door to enter the Mind of the Universe. Love can even create a way out of the Black Cloud for those lost in their desperation. As such, love is the door to peace. Rather than being utopian, putting love together with peace is the only realistic way to achieve peace.
Despite his study of Buddhism, Curle’s language had distinct Quaker and Western esoteric roots and was different from Dr. Hong’s. Also, Curle was primarily an academic. Yet, the core ideas behind Curle’s establishment of Peace Studies as an independent academic field, and Dr. Hong’s creation of the Federation of World Peace and Love are basically the same.
Both Professor Curle and Dr. Hong warned against those who deride the expression “world peace and love” as unrealistic and believe that world peace would be achieved through economic development only. History has proved them wrong. Making the poor less poor is certainly essential and useful to the efforts towards peace. However, material riches alone do not guarantee that there will be peace. After all, rich countries go to war too.
In fact, Curle’s and Dr. Hong’s approach to peace is the only true realism. Peace comes from love, through love, and because of love. What Dr. Hong and FOWPAL have proclaimed for several decades, what we are here to testify today, is that love is the gateway to peace. It is the only one.