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Father John Dear on Desmond Tutu & Thich Nhat Hanh: Two Peacemakers Who Changed the World

Web ExclusiveJanuary 25, 2022
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In an extended interview, Father John Dear, longtime peace activist and former director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, recalls the lives and impact of his close friends Thich Nhat Hanh and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who corresponded with him regularly. Thich Nhat Hanh, the world-renowned Buddhist monk, antiwar activist, poet and teacher, died Saturday at the age of 95, and South African anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Tutu died last month at the age of 90. Dear is the former director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, which first brought Thich Nhat Hanh to the United States in the 1960s, and is now executive director of the Beatitudes Center.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we bring you Part 2 of our conversation with the longtime peace activist Father John Dear, the former director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He was a dear friend of the Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, who died on Saturday at the age of 95. He was also close to South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died at the age of 90 on December 26th.

It’s great to have you still with us, Father John Dear. Let’s start with Thich Nhat Hanh. For people who aren’t familiar with him, the life of this giant, if you can talk about his trip to the United States in the 1960s, his influence on everyone from Dr. Martin Luther King to Father Dan Berrigan and others, and your own relationship with him?

FR. JOHN DEAR: Thank you so much, Amy. And thank you for having me on and all your great work.

Well, he was a giant. And many people would say, “OK, he was one of the greatest peacemakers and teachers of peace and spiritual leaders, you know, in the world in modern history.” I would say in all of history. In all of history.

Think about what he did. He brought Buddhism to the West, I think more than anybody. He reclaimed Buddhist teaching of mindfulness for the whole world. And he changed Buddhism. He called it “engaged Buddhism.” You know, when he was young, even — he was a genius, first of all. He was — what he did in Vietnam was amazing, which is why they eventually kicked him out. And that story hasn’t really been told in the States.

And I got to know him through Daniel Berrigan and being the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. It was FOR, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, that brought Thich Nhat Hanh to the United States in 1966 on a speaking tour. And it was the genius of this great hero, an unknown peacemaker friend of ours, John Heidbrink, who recognized in him the greatest voice of peace coming from Vietnam. It was brilliant. And part of the tour, Heidbrink said, “I need to take him to meet the three most important religious leaders in the United States — Martin Luther King, Thomas Merton and Daniel Berrigan,” who were all intimately involved with the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

So, he does that. He takes Thich Nhat Hanh to meet Dr. King. I think they met in Chicago. And Dr. King was floored. You can read it in his speeches with — about Thich Nhat Hanh and statements later saying he basically had never met anybody like Thich Nhat Hanh, such a gentle monk. And don’t be fooled by Thich Nhat Hanh, because he was a person of steel. He was so solid. He was so strong and firm. And King recognized that immediately. And it’s hard to unpack the impact that Thich Nhat Hanh had on the United States and in mobilizing not just everybody, but these great figures, to really speak out for an end to the War in Vietnam, beginning with Martin Luther King, who held a press conference with him that day. They later met in Geneva. And Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, the only person Martin Luther King nominated for the Peace Prize. And they had breakfast together, and Thich Nhat Hanh said beautiful things to him. He said later that just being with Dr. King, not just the power of the great person’s rhetoric but in his ordinary humanity — he said, “Martin, you are a bodhisattva to the world,” which is an awakened Buddha. And no one had talked to Martin Luther King like that.

He had the same influence on Thomas Merton, who wrote an amazing statement, that “I am closer to” — this was in 1966. “I’m closer to Thich Nhat Hanh than most Americans, certainly most church people, including most of the monks in my monastery. Thich Nhat Hanh and I see things exactly the same way. Nhat Hanh is my brother.” Remember, he’s the enemy, Thich Nhat Hanh. We’re bombing and killing Vietnamese. And what people don’t know, and you heard it on the clip you played, but Thich Nhat Hanh knew 1,000 monks by name who were killed. Think about what that would do to you as a person, something that I always thought of when I was with him.

His third great friend became Daniel Berrigan, my dear friend, who, after he got out of prison for resistance, moved to Paris and lived with Thich Nhat Hanh for many months in ’74 and again in ’75. And they recorded their conversations together and made a beautiful book, The Raft Is Not the Shore.

And as I said earlier, I met — I began writing to him in the 1980s and then early ’90s. He was writing back. I was getting faxes from him on various peace movement projects. But when I became the head of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, literally the first day, I reached out to him and said, “Can I come and see you and get some advice?” He was in Boston, and then he invited me to spend a day with him in Vermont. That was a mythic, life-changing experience.

And, Amy, if you don’t mind, to tell you a little anecdote, I had gotten up at 3:00 in the morning and driven with a couple of friends all day, all for many hours to Vermont, and was exhausted. He was exhausted from coming to just speaking to 5,000 people in Boston. So he took a nap. And they said, “He’ll come and meet you. Go and take a walk.” Well, I walked on this — he had a farm in Vermont, and down to and sat under a tree and promptly fell asleep for two hours, Amy. I mean really sound asleep on the grass. And I woke up, and Thich Nhat Hanh had been sitting in the lotus position next to me for an hour, meditating over me. And after that, I could never put on any airs with him. And he laughed at me and knew me very closely. And we became really good friends.

And he said a lot of things to me, that the peace movement needs to be totally nonviolent. We need to incarnate these teachings of mindfulness, love, compassion. And as I have studied him and watched him and learned from him, what has helped me personally the most was his teaching. First of all, you have to be really solid. He would say “solid as a mountain.” And you do that through your breath and your returning to your peace. And after that, you learn to look deeply. That was a big phrase of his. Look deeply within. Look deeply at your relationships. Look deeply at the world. No judgment, no condemnation, but to understand what’s going on. And after you do that, you can begin to see and live and act through the eyes of compassion and nonviolence. His message really was to practice universal love, universal compassion, universal peace and total nonviolence. Total nonviolence.

Now, Amy, you know me, and I’m an activist, and he knew me, too. And he knew me when I was really young. And we were — he considered me — I’m one of his best friends, because his best friend was Daniel Berrigan, and my best friend was Daniel Berrigan. But so I was always telling him what to do, and he would do the same with me. For example, I asked him to write a book on nonviolence. And he later said he wrote this one, Creating True Peace, with me in mind, which I was disappointed with. He wanted me to come to speak in Plum Village, and I said no. He invited me: “I really want you to come with me when I return to Vietnam.” And I didn’t do that. He was trying to get me to engage, to set up a retreat with him and his best friends and Dan and me and our best friends. But life, you know, took over. I was very busy.

And whenever I was with him, though, wow, was I impressed by his gentleness, his strength, his, you know, permanent smile, but also knowing that he was not weak. He was not a — not a fool or naive. He was really, really strong, a very powerful person, a real Buddha figure. And I’ve always felt like this must have been what it was like to be with Gandhi, to be with Jesus. You were disarmed in his presence. And isn’t that what a peacemaker is supposed to be?

I could go on and on. Amy. Can I tell you one last story about my day with him in France, shortly before his —

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, please do.

FR. JOHN DEAR: You know, I’m so happy that I went to see him. And, you know, he was very hard to reach, and he had changed a lot in his last decades, because he wasn’t so — in my opinion. This was part of Dan’s and I ongoing conversation with him: “You got to get back to your engaged Buddhism and lead marches.” You can imagine. And he was, meanwhile, criticizing me for doing too much civil disobedience and going to jail too much. And I said I was coming to see him in Plum Village, and I never heard, so I just showed up that morning. And, in fact, he had given —

AMY GOODMAN: Can you just explain what Plum Village is, Father John Dear?

FR. JOHN DEAR: Yeah. One of the things — thank you, Amy. You know, in the '70s, he was the — he's exiled to Paris, France. And he was the head of and founded the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation, as you mentioned. He was very involved in relief for the boat people and then started writing all these books. He’s written well over a hundred books on peace and mindfulness. It’s an amazing accomplishment.

But then he founded a monastery, his headquarters, which is in rural France. It’s near the village of Bergerac, near Bordeaux. And what happened was, with that, he founded, in effect, what for me, as I understand it, was a religious order, like the Jesuits were and the Franciscans. It’s called the Order of Interbeing. And today they have 400, 500 monks. And he was the head of it. And then he started monasteries around the world — there’s many in the United States — and then started launching sanghas. He has over a thousand sanghas. Now, those are just small Buddhist communities, not monasteries. Ordinary people can be part of it, to practice his teachings of peace and mindfulness. But his base for the rest of his life was Plum Village, which is a beautiful place really in the countryside of France.

Anyway, I went and showed up there — excuse me, I hit the table. And I didn’t know he knew I was coming. And he had given his Dharma talk about me and Dr. King to a thousand people that morning. And he was walking with the people in mindfulness meditation. And he saw me and grabbed me, and we went and spent the day in his hermitage. And it was just so beautiful. And there he had all my books and Thomas Merton’s books next to his bed. That was kind of shocking for me. He read all my books. That’s why he was always talking with me about what I was thinking and trying to do as an American peace activist and carrying on Daniel Berrigan’s legacy and Dr. King’s and Thomas Merton’s.

But he said astonishing things to me, like the first thing he said to me that day was, “John” — and remember, I’m a Catholic priest — “I just want you to know, I’ve loved Jesus my whole life. And my whole work — don’t tell anybody — is to try to get the whole human race to welcome Jesus’s kingdom of God,” to which I said, “Well, Thay, I’m just trying to get Christians to practice peace and nonviolence and to teach them all your teachings of compassion and mindfulness and living in the present moment.” And then we laughed.

He talked a lot about Daniel Berrigan. And then, Amy, he started to complain to me and tell me all his problems with Pope Francis. Now, this was — this is not what I was expecting. This is 2014, as I recall, and he had the massive stroke in November. I’m seeing him that summer. Well, Pope Francis is not in office a year, as I vaguely recall, and he sent a letter to Thich Nhat Hanh in Plum Village saying, “Please come and give me a private retreat.” And Thich Nhat Hanh wrote back and said, “No, thank you.” So then the cardinal of Paris showed up — and this is what Thich Nhat Hanh is telling me — showed up one day at Plum Village, saying, “You’ve got to come and give Pope Francis a retreat.” And he said, “No, I can’t do that.” And then, a month later, two cardinals came from Rome, flew in, unexpectedly, said, “Please come,” and left another letter. And he said to me, “John, I don’t want to go to the Vatican. I don’t want to meet Pope Francis.” And he was pretty funny. And he’s kind of complaining, and he’s going, “I’m a monk. I should be allowed to stay in my monastery. I’m at 89. Leave me alone.” And then he said, “What do you think?” I said, “You have to go. This is not an option. You’re Thich Nhat Hanh. Go and meet Pope Francis. He needs you. He’s going to become the most important voice for peace we have in the world, and you have a lot to teach him.” And much to my shock, he said, “Well, I’ll go if you come with me. And I will speak all morning on mindfulness. And after lunch. I’m going to turn to Pope Francis and say, 'Now I want my friend, Father John, to talk to us all afternoon about nonviolence.'” I agreed. And, of course, that didn’t happen because of the stroke. And Pope Francis never met him.

You know, he was — I had just left the Jesuits and become a diocesan priest then, and he knew me so well. And he didn’t like my decision, but said to me, “I want to rent you a house here in France. I want you to come and live here for a year, and I’m going to buy you a case of the finest red wine. I myself am going to Bordeaux to buy it.” And he’s laughing because he never drank wine in his whole life. But this, he thinks, is going to entice me to come and live with him. And he was looking for support, you know, for a friend, because after — you know, I didn’t see him like others. I was a student but also a friend and an activist, and he understood me because of Dan. And we were both so close to our friend Dan, your friend Dan, Father Daniel Berrigan. That didn’t happen.

I, on another personal — and so I’m getting messages and passing messages between him and Dan. And Dan died, as you recall, in 2016. Two years before Dan died, I got a long email from Thich Nhat Hanh for Dan. This is very private, but I feel moved to share it with you and your listeners. You can imagine how peaceful Thich Nhat Hanh is, and even his dreams would be peaceful. He wrote us that he had a terrible nightmare. This was shortly before his stroke, right? The whole world was on fire and burning down. And the last two people alive were him and Daniel Berrigan, and they were embracing each other and sobbing and died. And he wrote this long, dramatic nightmare to us, which I read aloud to Dan, who promptly was depressed for a year, and went to his death, in a certain way, he told me later, depressed over that. I know that — well, Thich Nhat Hanh said a lot of things to me about Dan, that the last few years of his life, Daniel Berrigan was the one person on the planet who gave him hope, you know, that these two —

AMY GOODMAN: And just very briefly, for those who aren’t familiar with Father Dan Berrigan, if you could talk about who he was?

FR. JOHN DEAR: Yes. So, he died in 2016. He was the legendary Catholic priest peace activist, along with his brother Philip, who became outspoken voices against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, close friend of Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh. But then, in 1968, after Dr. King was killed, they led the Catonsville Nine draft board raid. They took hundreds of files of draft files in Catonsville, Maryland, out into the parking lot and poured homemade napalm and burned them. And Dan issued that famous statement: “Our apologies, good friends, for the burning of paper instead of children. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.” And they faced years in prison, went to prison. And then Dan also wrote many great books and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was on the cover of Time magazine.

But later, in 1980, Dan and Phil launched the Plowshares movement. And they, in September 1980, hammered on unarmed nuclear weapons at the nose cones, the King of Prussia plant in Pennsylvania. And there have been over a hundred Plowshares actions since then. I did one with Philip Berrigan in 1993 and faced 20 years’ imprisonment for that and spent nearly a year of my life behind bars.

Thich Nhat Hanh did not like that I did the Plowshares action, and told me so in no uncertain terms, and didn’t like that Dan had done it. And Dan and Thay had disagreements. And Thich Nhat Hanh changed, as I’m saying, as Dan would teach me, because his emphasis became the foundation of the order, the Order of Interbeing, and his monastic work. Remember, he was, first and foremost, a monk. It was so touching that he died back in Vietnam at his home monastery. So touching. But he — you know, he loved Dan so much.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m looking at a picture, the image of you, Father John Dear. Over one shoulder is a picture of Thich Nhat Hanh, and over the other shoulder is Thich Nhat Hanh’s calligraphy. And it says, “Peace is every step.”

FR. JOHN DEAR: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: If you could talk just for a moment about the significance of his calligraphy?

FR. JOHN DEAR: Oh, you know, he was an artist. He was a poet. That’s one of the relationships he had with Daniel Berrigan and Thomas Merton, because they were both great poets, too. And he was a great poet. He did, Amy, over 10,000 hand calligraphies. Did you know that?

AMY GOODMAN: No.

FR. JOHN DEAR: And they’re very hard to find now. I have several —

AMY GOODMAN: But I was in New York and got to question him when he showed his calligraphy.

FR. JOHN DEAR: Wow.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, for him, calligraphy was a form of meditation.

FR. JOHN DEAR: Yes, Amy. And the other thing, Amy, is everything, for him, was a form of meditation — calligraphy, doing the dishes, eating. I once spent an evening eating pizza with him, and really good pizza, too. And it was slow and mindful. It was a meditation. In fact, he didn’t — he made me sit there for 45 minutes looking at the pizza before we ate it. And I said, “Man, that pizza’s getting cold” — which he loved, of course. But anyway, Amy, that’s why he was saying —

AMY GOODMAN: But looking at that calligraphy —

FR. JOHN DEAR: Yeah, that —

AMY GOODMAN: Looking at that particular line, it was Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem, ”Peace is every step. The shining red sun is my heart. Each flower smiles with me. How green, how fresh all that grows. How cool the wind blows. Peace is every step. It turns the endless path to joy.

FR. JOHN DEAR: Ah, that’s so beautiful, you see. And that’s the name of one of his first books, this one I’m holding, Peace Is Every Step, which is why I like that so much. He’s saying — well, you know, Amy, he was outrageous. Every step, literally, this is his sense of every step, every breath you take has to be peace. You breathe in peace. You breathe out peace. You have to walk on Earth like your feet are kissing the Earth. You’re totally aware of every step, everything you do. This is what it means to be a peacemaker. Can you imagine how moved Dr. King was? Dr. King is dealing with all kinds of issues, and Dan Berrigan, and this guy is saying this to him. And by the way, he’s the targeted enemy of our country. And he’s teaching us Americans. Oh, it’s so infinitely rich. “Peace is every step” is one of his many great lines.

AMY GOODMAN: Not to be confused with “Pizza is every step.”

FR. JOHN DEAR: And be mindful when you’re eating. I had, as I told him, prison manners, so I did — I wasn’t in mind. But, you know, I’ve been with a lot of his followers. And oddly enough, Amy, I’ve been invited to speak to a lot of Buddhist groups about nonviolence. And being with him is different than reading him. And maybe you picked that up, too. He was not rigid at all. It wasn’t a formal thing. He was very human. And, in fact, if you want to know my experience of him, if you read the fine print, and in my relationship with him, he — everything was about enjoying everything. You know, while you’re resisting the culture of war and violence, you enjoy life every moment. You live life to the full. You enjoy meditation. One of the scandalous teachings was, if you don’t like meditating, don’t do it, because you’re not doing it right. It should make you feel good. And eating pizza should really make you feel good, and to be with a friend, and to be with your community —

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, in that speech —

FR. JOHN DEAR: — to be teaching peace. So beautiful.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, in that speech he gave at Riverside two weeks after 9/11, of course, he talked deeply about peace. But then he also talked about mindful eating. Explain what that concept was for Thich Nhat Hanh.

FR. JOHN DEAR: First of all, I — if my friends listen to this, they will say I’m not the best one to talk about mindful eating. But — and I had many meals with him and cups of tea. But, so, he’s saying, “Living mindfulness, living nonviolence, living compassion is my practice.” That’s that Buddhist phrase. So you’re practicing it every single day. You’re practicing mindfulness, compassion and nonviolence.

You do that, first of all, through meditation, but then you take that experience of peace in meditation, and being totally aware and alert and alive and conscious, to the ordinary aspects of your life, driving as mindfully and peacefully as possible, you know, doing the dishes. He said you have to do the dishes as if you’re holding the baby Jesus. That’s how present you are. You’re not just doing — you do the laundry as if it’s — you’re changing the history of the world. And eating especially, you need to be mindful of what you’re eating, eat slowly, and to like see that that orange is connected to Mother Earth and the air and water, and that we’re all one. And if you see deeply into that not only are we one with one another, we’re one with all of creation, and that deepens even our compassion and our peace and nonviolence. So, so lovely. And so that every moment of your life becomes a meditation.

Now, those of us who knew him personally would say, “Wow, he did that.” He did that. But, you know, I don’t want to, say, put him totally on a pedestal, but that’s just me, because I saw him as a strong leader, too, you know?

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to also ask you, in these last few minutes, Father John Dear, about Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who you —

FR. JOHN DEAR: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: — were also close to, the South African anti-apartheid icon, who died last month at the age of 90. Thich Nhat Hanh died at 95. In 1984, Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work fighting to end white minority rule in South Africa. That same year, 1984, he traveled to Washington, where he denounced the Reagan administration’s support for South Africa’s apartheid government. This is what he said.

DESMOND TUTU: Apartheid is as evil, as immoral, as un-Christian, in my view, as Nazism. And in my view, the Reagan administration’s support and collaboration with it is equally immoral, evil and totally un-Christian, without remainder.

AMY GOODMAN: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, again, died in December at the age of 90. Can you talk about him from your very personal perspective? You, what, wrote to each other every week.

FR. JOHN DEAR: For almost 15 years. Well, you know, if Thich Nhat Hanh was an apostle of peace and nonviolence, Archbishop Tutu was an apostle of justice. And he was a very different person. He was very short, but very lively, hilariously funny, and very, very outspoken, whereas Thay was very gentle and calm and peaceful and had a kind of a permanent smile.

I was writing to Archbishop Tutu in the late '90s as the head of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. I don't know if you remember this, Amy, because I think I was on your show about this in '99. I invited all the living Nobel Peace Prize winners to come on an all-expense-paid trip to Iraq, OK, to learn about the sanctions — remember all that, Amy, in the 1990s? — which had killed over half a million children — we know that now — under 5. It's all documented. And, of course, all of them turned me down, except for two. And Tutu wrote me, and he goes, “No, we need sanctions.” And he was wrong. He didn’t understand it. And then we started — I wrote him back. And then I met him in The Hague. And then, I can’t remember how, nor could he, but at some point we were emailing during the Iraq War. This is about 2003. And he said, “I want you to write me.” And we — he called me his pen pal. So we did emails about every other week for 15 years.

And I was always telling him what to do and what — the mistakes he was making, as somebody had to. And I know I can say that, because he would just laugh. He thought I was outrageous and very funny. But he was wrong about the Iraq War and about Iraq in many ways. Now, this is deep stuff, Amy, because he’s this massive prophet of justice and peace, right? His leadership, what he did to end apartheid, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, what he did through the church — I mean, Bono called him the greatest living person, and I used to think he was right. But if you read the fine print, he was a just war theorist. OK? You know, the just war theory, in which — and most church people were. Pope John Paul would have been that. Francis is trying to change all that.

And in — I don’t remember when — 2006, I was invited to spend a week with him in Denver. We lived together at the Marriott hotel, with the Dalai Lama. And there were 10 Nobel laureates and their closest friends or assistants. And my friend was Mairead Maguire. And I heard him give many speeches, but the rest of the time we were hanging out together. And I can tell you more about that, if you want. But in his address, he supported the War in Iraq. I was utterly appalled. And it was just war — and I told him so. But I couldn’t still quite believe it. And then, six months later, in Vanity Fair magazine, of all things, which I had never read before, had him on the cover. And he gave this long thing, saying we have to support the War in Iraq, because we believe in the just war theory. And I decided I — you know, I’m probably the only person who could talk to him and say something to him.

So, Amy, I said a prayer and wrote him a nasty email and said — I said to him, literally, “Have you heard of Jesus?” This is why he got a kick out of me. “Jesus and — have you read the Sermon on the Mount? 'Love your enemies.' Jesus doesn’t say there are any exceptions and there’s a just war. And you’ve got to stop talking about Iraq and supporting the United States military in any way. You don’t realize the effect you’re having on the United States.” I remember pressing the send button and thinking, “Well, I guess I’ll never hear from him again.” And 15 minutes later, he sent back this long letter nominating me for the Nobel Peace Prize. He said, “I don’t know anybody on the planet like you. There’s nobody talks like nonviolence.” And that was really a powerful experience.

I wanted to tell you, though, about my last meeting with him. Again, I’m so grateful. I went to South Africa with some friends of mine, Father Ray East and his family, and I spent a day with Tutu in Cape Town. Now, I’m going to see him in his office. And I get there, and he’s catered a meal in my honor, a lot of people, and we had Mass together. And then we had several hours of conversation. He said many, many powerful things. But one of the things that I wanted to share with you was — and, again, he knew me, right? He grabbed me by the collar and said, “John, you and I have to work for peace and justice ’til the day we die.” And he’s a little tiny guy. And you know me, Amy. I said to him — I went like this, “Oh, come on, man. How am I gonna do that?” And I hit him in the chest. I said, “Arch” — t hat’s what you called him, Arch — “how do you do that?”

And, of course, this is when these great people really shock you with their greatness. He got really close to my face. And he said, “I cry.” And he burst into tears, sobbing, “Because the world doesn’t know what they’re doing. People don’t realize they’re sisters and brothers of one another. They’re all children of God, gave us — God gave us this beautiful planet. And we’re killing each other. And nobody listens to the wisdom of nonviolence.” He falls into my arms sobbing. I was shocked. And then he collects himself. And he said, “The other thing” — and he said, “I have cried every day since I was 5.” The other thing he said was, “And I laugh. I have laughed every day since I was 5 years old. I laugh, and I grieve. I have joy and grief.” And then he started making fun of me, which was his big thing. And he hit me, and he goes, “And being with you.” And he burst out laughing. He goes, “You’re ridiculous. You’re just a big kid. Look at you. I can’t take you seriously. Why do I take you seriously?” And nobody took me as seriously as Archbishop Tutu. He was amazing and such a prophet and such a source of encouragement to me and to the world.

And, you know, my closing thought, Amy, would be, OK, we’ve lost two giants in this last month: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh. I was so blessed to know both of them. And now we have to step up to the plate. You know? I knew that they gave every single day of their lives for peace and justice and creation, fearlessly. And they believed they could do this even when they were young. We have to do the same thing, and, as Tutu said, keep at it 'til the day we die. We need people who are committed to building a global movement of nonviolence for justice, disarmament and creation, the likes of which the world has never seen, way beyond Tutu and Daniel Berrigan and Thich Nhat Hanh, to save the planet. As Dr. King said, it's no longer violence or nonviolence; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. So, I hope people can take heart from these two great giants and step up to the plate and, you know, model peace and nonviolence in their personal lives and relationships, and go forward to build this movement to abolish war itself and racism and poverty and nuclear weapons and environmental destruction, and bring about a new culture of peace and nonviolence. That’s the best thing we can do to remember them.

AMY GOODMAN: Father John Dear, I want to thank you so much for being with us, longtime peace activist, Catholic priest, former director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, longtime friend of Thich Nhat Hanh and Father Dan Berrigan, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

To see Part 1 of our conversation and the extended speech of Thich Nhat Hanh, and to see the full speech of Thich Nhat Hanh, you can go to democracynow.org, as well as our extended interviews with Archbishop Desmond Tutu over the years. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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