What I have learned from peace activism

 

For over 60 years I have worked to promote a world without wars, and I am still trying. My ancestors, the Russian Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors (Tolstoyans in spirit)  burnt their guns in 1895 and I was brought up to believe that it is wrong to kill another human being. Countless stories, petitions, marches, visits, and talks have shown me the potential of what one person in cooperation with others can do. Here is what I learned: 

 

  • Hatred and fear of the unknown have no future. Love is the way. This is the fundamental wisdom of the ages. There is a saying that if you love, you are God. So let’s get more loving in this world. 

  • Getting to know the stranger is the first step in any communications. A friendly gesture ought to be our eternal beacon throughout life. The handshake, a respectful comment, various bridge-building initiatives, home visits, and an accurate story of the ‘other’ goes a long ways to create a culture of peace. Always visualize a positive outcome.  

  • Distinguishing ‘fake news’ from ‘real news’ is a challenge. We need to search for the truth above the din of propaganda and be open to learning from wisdom people such as Lev N. TolstoyMahatma GandhiMartin Luther King Jr. and Albert Einstein. Reading, observing, listening, speaking out, visualizing, and writing are some of our learning tools. Remember that war and militarism sucks out much of our human services — so we need to question more. 

  • The thesis of ’nonkilling’ is a useful strategy for peace. Developed by Dr. Glenn D. Paige, nonkilling shares the same family as nonviolence, but it is measurable and leads to a killing-free world. We don’t need to kill people to get their resources, but we can share what we have and negotiate a ‘win win’ scenario.  

  • We are people of one human race, residing on one planet called Earth. Both tribalism and being a super policeman have little or no place in a peaceful world. Working cooperatively to achieve an inclusive level of equality is an important ingredient for peace.  

  • The Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky said that ‘beauty will save the world’. Beauty within our hearts radiates powerful healing waves of behaviour. We do not need to murder people and destroy property for the sake of power. We can learn to respect people as beautiful members of our human family. Visualize friendship! 

  • We need to be humble in working to change the world. Regime change, or sanctioned murder, should not be part of our vocabulary. Could you imagine what the world would look like if we did not ruin our civilization with regime change?  

  • With the challenges of climate change, terrorism, inequality, population growth, and resource allocation, we need to become partners in development. This means cooperating together to build a better society for all.  

  • Ultimately, we need to focus on making war a crime against humanity. Nothing less makes sense for the survival of the human race. I’m surprised that today many people are still dependent on the gun and the bomb for their security. A shift in thinking is urgently needed. Saving humanity from the scourge of war is a better option and a goal of the United Nations. 

  • Patience is a good quality for peace workers. After over 60 years of active peace making, I am still hoping to discover a world without wars. In the 1950s I edited and published The Inquirer with a search for a peaceful world. Today I use my voice (and record visuals with my camera) in speaking out on my Spirit Wrestlers website and blog. For me, nonkilling peace is the way of our future.  

 

by Koozma J. Tarasoff

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