So how can humanity at last end the scourge of war?
How do we meet such a seemingly impossible challenge, particularly in the face of the cynic, the terrorist and the anarchist, who will always be among us?
In the words of another Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Dag Hammarskjöld, “Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us.”
And from there it must flow into dramatic enlightenment across the continents, fueled by the natural and deep dedication of the vast majority of humanity towards living in peace.
Imagine a creative groundswell of hundreds of millions of us demanding of ourselves and of our leaders that we reject the monologues of violence and war, that we commit with whole-hearted resolve to dialogues of peace.
This re-commitment, this new voice of humanity, will identify the issues and actors in theaters of war and, working with peace buliding partners, will help create and implement elements of enduring peace.
Within the deceptive simplicity of this premise lies the essence of peaceful revolution: that so many people across the continents create such a loud insistence on ending war that leaders everywhere — especially in an age where it is increasingly tough to hide — realize that peaceful solutions are not only a priority but an essential outcome.
Even so-called “just wars” are fair game, for it is well within humanity’s creative grasp to contain those inevitable patrons of violence who think killing proves something more than their madness.
So let’s raise our voices in pursuit of our most common, most powerful and most necessary dream: ending war once and for all.
There are many ways of course for each of us to be a peacemaker.
One easy, immediate and universal possibility is to encourage enlightenment and action in our own neighborhoods; create a new voice of humanity in our community, our village, our savannah, our city block; come together in the ancient and relaxing tradition of sharing a cup of tea to custom design a peace mission; to listen, share stories, look into each other’s eyes and hearts, consider the flow and cross-currents of the day; not least to better understand our past and investigate our future, allowing us to rediscover and rekindle ways to live and let live.
What if we could create tens of thousands of such gatherings across the continents, their mission to encourage understanding about the necessity and possibility of ending war? Each would meet perhaps once a month to develop its own action agenda, free of outside control or directives.
Oppotunities for action range of course from something purely local to something that reaches across the globe. Here are but a few examples:
- Establish programs of peace studies in your local schools.
- Encourage new legislation, for example to prevent drones from being used for military purposes.
- Bring inspiring speakers to your campus or community.
- Organize a peaceful protest for government transparency.
- Found a book club that concentrates on dialogues of peace.
- Bring works of art to your local community that address the need for peace.
- Join an international campaign against a particular warmonger or dictator or terrorist organization.
- Support the efforts of one of the many international enterprises that work for peace.
- Raise funds for a public awareness campaign.
- Collect signatures and donations from local supporters.
- Research and publicize the history of peace movements.
Magnificent new ideas to end war are dreamed of every day. There are in fact a host of angels dedicated to inducing creative ideas for peace. For example, here is their most recent success — offered on the International Day of Peace (September 21) — by Business Plan for Peace (in England):
“But what if we could prevent war happening in the first place? What if those bombs had not fallen, what if those children had not been terrorised, what if those soldiers had not been trained to kill?
“Here are some actions we could, and can, take now:
- It has become clear that the weapons industry drives future wars; at the biggest international arms fair held every two years in London, brochures for takes and artillery have ‘Battle Proven’ across the covers. The industry thrives on war. So, if you have investments or a pension, you could mark this day by instructing your provider to withdraw any investments in companies that produce or trade in weaponry.
- Understand to Prevent (U2) is a multinational project to determine the contribution defence forces can make to the prevention of violent conflict. It was developed a few years ago by six NATO nations, but never activated. Please look it up here; it’s a detailed and brilliant document. If you know anyone in the British military, please bring it to their notice, as we in the team are doing.
- Get involved with organisations like Peace Direct, formed 20 years ago to demonstrate that War Prevention Works, with a book showing 50 examples of how locally led initiatives have stopped armed violence. Peace Direct now works with local initiatives and governments helping prevent or stop conflict in over 25 countries around the world.
- The Mighty Heart online course is enabling huge companies like H&M to empower their teams to build peace with the skills taught in the course. They say: “by embedding the Mighty Heart in our organisation, H&M have taken a stand to improve communication and collaboration, and thus contribute to a better world for all.” (If you know of companies who might like to do the same please reach out to email@example.com.)
- We also offer Mighty Heart courses to the general public with participants from all over the world.
- The International Day of Peace could be a good day to set aside a few minutes to think of something close to your heart; to come up with an idea which would further the cause of peace, which suits your specific interests and concerns and which is doable in the context of your busy life.”
September 16, 2022, Washington Post: During a meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization), Prime Minister Modi of India, in a stunning public rebuke, told President Putin of Russia: “Today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this.”
Public scolding of the finest kind!
Here are Anne Applebaum’s latest insight on Putin’s demonic and immoral actions, in The Atlantic on September 30. “Putin’s actions,” she writes, “are a war not just on Ukraine, but on world order and the rule of law, a system embraced by the democratic world. It is a statement of contempt for democracy itself.”
Many timeless and deeply inspiring songs remind us of the necessity and the possibility of enduring peace.
Why not take a moment right now — with friends or alone — to dance, boogie, shimmy, chasse, gyrate, sway, get down or simply sing along in honor of and in yearning for enduring peace, one that at last settles over Earth like a soft and heavenly light?
Here are some irresistible classics:
People Have the Power ~ Patti Smith
Universal Soldier ~ Buffy St.Marie
From a Distance ~ Bette Midler, in Las Vegas
One Tribe ~ Black-eyed Peas
Imagine ~ John Lennon, with Yoko Ono in NYC
Change is Gonna Come ~ Sam Cooke
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? ~ Pete Seeger, in Stockholm
And to make violence obsolete!
Someone from the audience once asked His Holiness The Dalai Lama, “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?” His Holiness looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at the audience and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.”
Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he said, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back…but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”
Scott Shapiro, Yale Law, NPR piece, Phil of War. “outlaw war, remake the world”
Not to mention the ever-changing nature of war that makes it more dangerous every year. Here’s an article from The Economist on the ways in which AI (artificial intelligence) now influences how we fight.
Here’s the current state of war in Africa.
Give Peace A Chance ~ John Lennon
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
As both resource and inspiration, here are 125 compelling aphorisms on war and peace.
Elegant wordsmith Maria Popova reminds us of our friend Ferdinand, the peaceful bull, of how his timeless story came to be told and is still reprinted across the globe.
In The Story of Ferdinand (public library), a gentle-souled young misfit sits out the perpetual head-butting by which his peers hone their bull-skills, choosing instead to smell the flowers under his favorite cork tree in solitude. His mother, at first worried about his bullness, recognizes her son’s difference and trusts that he would find his way.
“And so he does.”(Continue reading in The Marginalian)
The most peaceful people in the world may be the Hadya, the Moriori and the Batek.
n.b. material below still to be edited….and much to be added. Please stay tuned….
Indices of global health:
- Bhutan GNH Index
- Broad measures of economic progress
- Disability-adjusted life year
- Full cost accounting
- Green national product
- Green gross domestic product (Green GDP)
- Gender-related Development Index
- Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)
- Global Peace Index
- Gross National Happiness
- Gross National Well-being (GNW)
- Happiness economics
- Human Development Index (HDI)
- ISEW (Index of sustainable economic welfare)
- Progress (history)
- Progressive utilization theory
- Legatum Prosperity Index
- Leisure satisfaction
- Living Planet Index
- Law of Social Cycle
- Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
- Money-rich, time-poor
- OECD Better Life Index BLI
- Subjective life satisfaction
- Where-to-be-born Index
- World Happiness Report (WHR)
- World Values Survey (WVS)
- Good example for massive scale collaboration:
- CAPTCHA (computer security invention) inventor is keen on positive change through mass movements (“750 million helping to digitalize books”). Luis Van Ahn. http://www.ted.com/talks/luis_von_ahn_massive_scale_online_collaboration
- Simon Sinek: “People buy the WHY you do it, not the WHAT you do” The “I have a dream” speech was not the “I have a plan” speech. Appeals to the limbic brain, the decision center. “We follow something for ourselves, cause we believe it, not because someone else does”. http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action
“Images Against War” began as one woman’s reaction to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In February 2003, Tina Schelhorn, curator, and director of Galerie Lichtblick in Cologne, Germany, sent an e-mail to her friends in the global photographic community, inviting them to give their visual statements against war. By the end of that month, a website was launched with the work of 100 artists, and an exhibition of 250 images hung in her gallery.
In three-and-a-half years, Images Against War has grown to include the visual statements of 660 photographers from over 40 countries. It also has evolved into a public projection and exhibition presented throughout Europe. With each presentation, the exhibition expands, absorbing contributions from regional photographers. Participants range from internationally renowned fine art photographers and Magnum agency photojournalists to students.
For more information about Peace Rallies please visit:
– nion.us – Not In Our Name
– epic-usa.org – The Education for Peace in Iraq Center
– peacecoalition.org – Coalition for Peace Action
– internationalanswer.org – International Answer
– vitw.org – Voices in the Wilderness
Selected peacemaking organizations
There will one day spring from the brain of science a machine or force so fearful in its potentialities, so absolutely terrifying, that even man, the fighter, who will dare torture and death in order to inflict torture and death, will be appalled, and so abandon war forever.
Schweitzer: But the essential fact which we should acknowledge in our conscience, and which we should have acknowledged a long time ago, is that we are becoming inhuman to the extent that we become supermen. We have learned to tolerate the facts of war: that men are killed en masse -some twenty million in the Second World War – that whole cities and their inhabitants are annihilated by the atomic bomb, that men are turned into living torches by incendiary bombs. We learn of these things from the radio or newspapers and we judge them according to whether they signify success for the group of peoples to which we belong, or for our enemies. When we do admit to ourselves that such acts are the results of inhuman conduct, our admission is accompanied by the thought that the very fact of war itself leaves us no option but to accept them. In resigning ourselves to our fate without a struggle, we are guilty of inhumanity.
What really matters is that we should all of us realize that we are guilty of inhumanity. The horror of this realization should shake us out of our lethargy so that we can direct our hopes and our intentions to the coming of an era in which war will have no place. Nobel Peace lecture 1954 http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1952/schweitzer-lecture.html
More Schweitzer, op cit.
The first to have the courage to advance purely ethical arguments against war and to stress the necessity for reason governed by an ethical will was the great humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam in hisQuerela pacis (The Complaint of Peace) which appeared in 15175. In this book he depicts Peace on stage seeking an audience.
Erasmus found few adherents to his way of thinking. To expect the affirmation of an ethical necessity to point the way to peace was considered a utopian ideal. Kant shared this opinion. In his essay on “Perpetual Peace”, which appeared in 17956, and in other publications in which he touches upon the problem of peace, he states his belief that peace will come only with the increasing authority of an international code of law, in accordance with which an international court of arbitration would settle disputes between nations. This authority, he maintains, should be based entirely on the increasing respect which in time, and for purely practical motives, men will hold for the law as such. Kant is unremitting in his insistence that the idea of a league of nations cannot be hoped for as the outcome of ethical argument, but only as the result of the perfecting of law. He believes that this process of perfecting will come of itself. In his opinion, “nature, that great artist” will lead men, very gradually, it is true, and over a very long period of time, through the march of history and the misery of wars, to agree on an international code of law which will guarantee perpetual peace.
For love of domination we must substitute equality; for love of victory we must substitute justice; for brutality we must substitute intelligence; for competition we must substitute cooperation. We must learn to think of the human race as one family. Bertrand Russell
* Dr. Schweitzer delivered this lecture in the Auditorium of Oslo University almost a year after having received the award. The Oslo Aftenposten for November 5 reports that he read quietly from a manuscript and that the seriousness and simplicity of his speech moved the audience. This translation is based on the text in French, the language which Dr. Schweitzer used on this occasion, published in Lex Prix Nobel en 1954.
The idea that the reign of peace must come one day has been given expression by a number of peoples who have attained a certain level of civilization. In Palestine it appeared for the first time in the words of the prophet Amos in the eighth century B.C.10, and it continues to live in the Jewish and Christian religions as the belief in the Kingdom of God. It figures in the doctrine taught by the great Chinese thinkers: Confucius and Lao-tse in the sixth century B.C., Mi-tse in the fifth, and Meng-tse in the fourth11. It reappears in Tolstoy12 and in other contemporary European thinkers. People have labeled it a utopia. But the situation today is such that it must become reality in one way or another; otherwise mankind will perish.
I am well aware that what I have had to say on the problem of peace is not essentially new. It is my profound conviction that the solution lies in our rejecting war for an ethical reason; namely, that war makes us guilty of the crime of inhumanity. Erasmus of Rotterdam and several others after him have already proclaimed this as the truth around which we should rally.
The only originality I claim is that for me this truth goes hand in hand with the intellectual certainty that the human spirit is capable of creating in our time a new mentality, an ethical mentality. Inspired by this certainty, I too proclaim this truth in the hope that my testimony may help to prevent its rejection as an admirable sentiment but a practical impossibility. Many a truth has lain unnoticed for a long time, ignored simply because no one perceived its potential for becoming reality.
Only when an ideal of peace is born in the minds of the peoples will the institutions set up to maintain this peace effectively fulfill the function expected of them.
Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Acceptaince speech 1953.