Home > Uncategorized > Faiz Ahmed Faiz: Today, war means the annihilation of the human race itself

Faiz Ahmed Faiz: Today, war means the annihilation of the human race itself

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Faiz Ahmed Faiz
From Lenin Peace Prize acceptance speech (1962)


I do not find anything in my life and work that should have made me worthy of this single honour. However, I can think of one reason: the fervent yearning for peace and independence, which has motivated me and my colleagues. There is such glory in the desire itself that even the humblest votaries of peace and independence are considered worthy of respect and recognition.

All except those who are affected by dementia or are given to crime are agreed that peace and independence are beautiful ideals. All can visualise that peace is reflected in the wheat fields, in poplar trees, in the bride’s veil, in the laughing hands of children, in the poet’s pen, artist’s brush.

All of us can visualise that independence guarantees all these and servitude kills all qualities, which distinguish man from beast — qualities of intellect and intelligence, truth and justice, dignity and valour, piety and forbearance. Therefore, there should logically be no difference of opinion among reasonable people regarding the achievement and consolidation of peace and independence. Unfortunately, however, that common understanding is lacking because, from the beginning of time, contending forces have been at work. These forces are the forces of creation and destruction, of light and darkness, of justice and injustice. The interplay of these contrary forces continues to this day. At the same time, the problems with which we are faced today are different in character than the ones that used to tax us in the past.

War today does not mean bloody tribal strife. Nor do we mean by peace today merely that bloodshed should come to an end. Today, war means the annihilation of the human race itself. Today, peace is the precondition for the survival of humanity as such. On these two words — annihilation or survival — depends the continuation or culmination of human history. On these two words depends the destruction or survival of the human habitat. Again, man did not have, until our own time, sufficient control over natural resources and the forces of production to take care of the needs of all groups and clans. Thus there was some justification in the past for the grab-and-run loot, which has been so much a part of human history. That is not the situation today.

Human inventiveness has taken science and technology to such high levels of efficiency that all mouths can be fed, all physical needs can be met, provided that the limitless bounties of nature, the infinite means of production at the disposal of mankind, are geared not to satisfy the avarice of monopolists or special interest groups but to ensure the welfare of all, and provided also that the scientific and industrial abilities of the human race are put to constructive rather than destructive purposes.

[T]he struggle for peace and the struggle for independence converge and become indivisible. This is so because the forces that work for peace are also the forces that work for independence and the forces working against independence are also the forces working for the destruction of peace.

In short, in politics and morality, in literature and art, in day-to-day life, this struggle between constructive and destructive forces is being waged on several fronts, in myriad shapes.

It is obvious that only those powers can benefit from these differences that are opposed to world peace and universal brotherhood. It is essential, therefore, that peace-loving peoples should think about these differences and help find just solutions.

I am convinced that humankind, which has never surrendered to its enemies, will emerge victorious yet, and that, at long last, hatred, repression and war will give way to peace and universal brotherhood. I am convinced that we shall all live together in harmony as Hafiz, the Persian poet, had wanted us to live long ago:

Khalal pazir bawad har bina ki mi bini,

Bajuz bina-i-mohabbat ki khali as khalal ast.

(Every foundation that we have seen has been flawed,

but for the foundation of love, for love alone is flawless.)

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Charles
    September 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    My sentiments also.It is only the mad men that would exchange battles between the paramilitaries of today. Total annihilation is assured.What are these people thinking. God help us all.

  2. November 30, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Faiz was a humble person with an optimistic approach towards life. His love for humanity was free of the prejudice of race, color or nationality. Apart from being an innovative poet, he was the poet of beauty and love, and for him, there was no difference between the three; love, beauty, and revolution.

    • richardrozoff
      December 1, 2012 at 2:43 am

      Thank you. In describing Faiz, you outline the very beau ideal of humanity. In fact it is where the human meets the divine. To know that just one such person has existed is reason enough to subscribe to the words of Maxim Gorky from his play The Lower Depths:

      “Man! That is tremendous! How proud the word rings — MAN! A man should be respected. Not pitied…pity is degrading…but respected! I have always despised people who worry too much about their bellies. That’s not the point. Man is superior to that. Man is superior to his belly!”

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