Remarks at ‘From Conflict to Communion: Together in Hope’

Malmö 31 October 2016.

Check against delivery.

Friends,
I would like to begin with the words of the German Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who confronted Nazism in his time. For this, he was interned and murdered. But his thoughts on optimism live on.

He said: "Optimism, in its essence, is not a view of the current situation, but a life force, a force of hope, when others resign, a force to hold your head high, when everything seems to fail, a force to endure setbacks, a force that never leaves the future to its opponent, but claims it for itself."

Friends,
the number of armed conflicts in the world have increased over the latest decade. In the face of the cruelties of war, we now, more than ever, need a force of hope – creating a global momentum for peace.

A force that compels warring parties from the trenches to the negotiation table. A force that shines a light on conflicts that are outside the world's spotlight. A force that tackles the roots of conflict: in social divides, in the destruction of our earth, in intolerance, extremism and hate. We can all be that force!

And in all the darkness of the world – there are rays of light.

We created one such ray of light in Paris, where the world agreed on the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. We created a ray of light in New York, where the world agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty and ensure prosperity for all.

Rays of light are created wherever we come together – to raise our ambitions and set goals for a more peaceful world.

But a force is needed to fulfil those goals. A force that sets new examples. A force that pushes for new commitments. And a force that makes sure we all respect the promises already made.

This cannot be left to us politicians alone. We must all be that force!

And here tonight shines a new ray of light, from all of you coming together in hope.

You represent all the women and men of faith, who live by the ideals of peace, in marches and protests, in humanitarian aid and international development, in simple solidarity with your fellow human beings.

Your determination matters. Your action matters. Your communion matters.

Because time and time again, people have proven that war is only a creation of man, and that when enough people come together to demand peace – then peace is created.

And we, all people of good will, share this responsibility. So let us promise each other: We will be that force.

A force of hope, a force to hold our heads high, a force that claims the future for optimism, and the steadfast belief in peace.

Thank you.