Working towards peace and sustainability

World in Flames, Time for Action, Not Despair

It’s a profound understatement to say “this has not been an easy time for peace activism.” From the Ukraine and Iraq to Syria and Gaza, to Ferguson, Missouri, it seems conflict and violence are ubiquitous. The challenges those of us working for a harmonious, sustainable and prosperous future face are too numerous to catalog. There is a tendency to feel overwhelmed and powerless. While understandable, these are responses we can ill afford.

Conflicts often are complex and not resolved by simple solutions. There are, however, some approaches that can, we believe, be generalized. First of all, force and violence rarely, if ever, provide solutions. They usually exacerbate existing problems and create new ones as well. On the other hand, inclusive efforts that address the needs of all stakeholders can yield viable and durable solutions, especially if they address the conflicts’ root causes.

Those of us who are advocates, working for ending the Permanent War and building a future based upon cooperation, need to be in this for the long haul. As we in Peaceworks have often pointed out, what we are working toward isn’t simply to end a particular war or conflict, but rather a paradigm shift that renders war making, itself, obsolete.

Major cultural and power shifts usually take many decades to achieve. Successful social movements –from those to abolish slavery and achieve civil rights, to those for women’s suffrage and equality, to those for labor rights, environmental protection or LGBT rights—have all been intergenerational. They’ve all had highs and lows; periods of advance and of retrenchment. Most who founded these movements did not live to see their goals achieved.

But the long run trend has generally been toward improvement. As Dr. King put it, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” And, much like those who’ve gone before us, we must commit our energies in an ongoing, sustained fashion to this work.

We need to keep this in mind as we wrestle with the unfolding of a New Cold War, the renewed U.S. bombing in Iraq, the ongoing conflicts in Israel-Palestine, Syria, and other locations where our government has intervened. Ditto, as we face injustice, racism, violence and economic inequality here in the United States.

The space available on this page does not allow us to address these issues in depth. 

To learn more about Peaceworks' positions please CLICK HERE.

What we can do here, is to lay out some principles that might guide our action moving forward:

·        First, we respect the dignity of all of our fellow humans, even those we profoundly disagree with. And we respect the inherent equality of all, regardless of gender, orientation, ethnicity, nationality, religion, etc.

·        Second, we seek not just “peace” in the sense of the absence of violence, but recognize that peace requires the presence of justice.

·        Third, we also recognize that we need to be at peace with all of nature. The other species in the intricate web of life have rights as well.

·        Fourth, as the feminist movement informs our work, we acknowledge that the personal is political. We cannot successfully strive to create a just social order, while not living that way in our own right.

·        Fifth, our work must be done through means consistent with our ends. We will not achieve a peaceful future through violence. We will not achieve a participatory, democratic future by building a top-down movement.

As Gandhi said, we must “be the change we wish to see in the world.” We, at Peaceworks, urge you to embrace hope and up the ante, committing to working with us, in a sustained fashion, to create this brighter future. 

To learn more about Peaceworks' positions please CLICK HERE