Many cry for world peace by calling for reduced armies. Others seek to prevent war by preparing armies. But the only true way to achieve world peace is through individual righteousness, said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve.
Peace is not the absence of war, but rather is the opposite of war, he emphasized, speaking in a firm voice Sunday afternoon."We cannot have peace among nations without achieving general righteousness among the people who comprise them," he said.
"Gospel peace is the opposite of any conflict, armed or unarmed. It is the opposite of national or ethnic hostilities, or civil or family strife."
Prophets of ancient times and the present have emphasized that peace in the land comes when the people are obedient to the laws of God.
"As we seek to understand the causes of wars, persecutions, and civil strife, we can see that they are almost always rooted in wickedness."
Obedience to the Ten Commandments, the bedrock moral foundation for all Christians and Jews, he continued, would have prevented the greatest atrocities of this century.
He suggested that democracy, in and of itself, does not assure peace, but will merely mirror the righteousness or wickedness of a people. "If citizens do not have a basic goodness to govern their actions toward one another, we can never achieve peace in the world.
"Conversely, each citizen furthers the cause of world peace when he or she keeps the commandments of God and lives at peace with family and neighbors.
"The Savior and His apostles had no program for world peace other than individual righteousness. They mounted no opposition to the rule of Rome or to the regime of its local tyrants. They preached individual righteousness."
In the Church, members seek peace as they serve one another. "A bishop who seeks to heal a troubled marriage or resolve a personal controversy is working for peace. So is a victim of abuse who is conscientiously working on the long process of forgiving the transgressor.
"Young men and women contribute to peace when they forego temporary pleasure of self-gratifying activities and involve themselves in service projects and other acts of kindness."
Parents who lovingly care for their children or who shelter foster children and raise them in righteousness are working for peace, as are people who seek to reduce human suffering and promote understanding among different peoples.
Missionaries seek to treat the causes of war by preaching righteousness, said Elder Oaks. "They preach repentance from personal corruption, greed and oppression because only by individual reformation can we overcome corruption and oppression by groups or nations.
"By inviting all to repent and come unto Christ, our missionaries are working for peace in this world by changing the hearts and behavior of individual men and women."
Elder Oaks concluded by quoting King Benjamin of the Book of Mormon, who taught that a repentant person filled with the love of God "will not have a mind to injure another, but to live peaceably" with all people. (Mosiah 4:12-13.)