Martin Luther King, Jr - Letter to the Nobel Institute
January 25, 1967
The Nobel Institute
As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, I now have the pleasure
of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in
I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace
Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam.
This would be a notably auspicious year for you to bestow your
Prize on the Venerable Nhat Hanh. Here is an apostle of peace and
non-violence, cruelly separated from his own people while they are
oppressed by a vicious war which has grown to threaten the sanity
and security of the entire world.
Because no honor is more respected than the Nobel Peace Prize,
conferring the Prize on Nhat Hanh would itself be a most generous
act of peace. It would remind all nations that men of good will
stand ready to lead warring elements out of an abyss of hatred and
destruction. It would re-awaken men to the teaching of beauty and
love found in peace. It would help to revive hopes for a new order
of justice and harmony.
I know Thich Nhat Hanh, and am privileged to call him my friend.
Let me share with you some things I know about him. You will find
in this single human being an awesome range of abilities and interests.
He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar
of immense intellectual capacity. The author of ten published volumes,
he is also a poet of superb clarity and human compassion. His academic
discipline is the Philosophy of Religion, of which he is Professor
at Van Hanh, the Buddhist University he helped found in Saigon.
He directs the Institute for Social Studies at this University.
This amazing man also is editor of Thien My, an influential Buddhist
weekly publication. And he is Director of Youth for Social Service,
a Vietnamese institution which trains young people for the peaceable
rehabilitation of their country.
Thich Nhat Hanh today is virtually homeless and stateless. If he
were to return to Vietnam, which he passionately wishes to do, his
life would be in great peril. He is the victim of a particularly
brutal exile because he proposes to carry his advocacy of peace
to his own people. What a tragic commentary this is on the existing
situation in Vietnam and those who perpetuate it.
The history of Vietnam is filled with chapters of exploitation
by outside powers and corrupted men of wealth, until even now the
Vietnamese are harshly ruled, ill-fed, poorly housed, and burdened
by all the hardships and terrors of modern warfare.
Thich Nhat Hanh offers a way out of this nightmare, a solution
acceptable to rational leaders. He has traveled the world, counseling
statesmen, religious leaders, scholars and writers, and enlisting
their support. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument
to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.
I respectfully recommend to you that you invest his cause with
the acknowledged grandeur of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1967. Thich
Nhat Hanh would bear this honor with grace and humility.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Text courtesy of The Community
for Mindful Living
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