by Larry Langdon
AFTER READING THE EXCELLENT “Foundations of Peace” IN CONTEXT issue I’m shocked, awed at the thought that rational fellow humans could return to other subjects. How could someone simply turn away and discuss “The Arts and Ceremony in Sustainable Cultures” (Spring 1984) or “The Way of Learning” (Summer 1984)? What value can these subjects have unless we prevent a nuclear holocaust? The subjects seem too academic and too, well, out of context!
I’m all for wholistic healing – in this case planetary healing. I share the IN CONTEXT vision of a humane sustainable culture. Yet for me the context of this planetary healing is the very real and very acute threat of terminal illness. Healing the world right now seems very much like healing a heart patient. There is an immediate threat of a heart (nuclear) attack. One doesn’t “just” prescribe a generally healthful lifestyle, one prescribes specific and urgent actions to avoid the fatality – and one makes it quite clear that the patient better heed the advice quickly and exactly. It’s not just a suggestion for a fuller life – it’s a matter of life or death. It’s something which must take precedence.
While there are any number of signs of planetary ill health, I submit to you that the threat of nuclear holocaust is by far the gravest and most critical. Within half an hour from now we couId well have a holocaust which would not only kill millions outright but probably lead necessarily to the end of all life on earth. I submit to you that this situation is so serious that any sane human ought to have it in the forefront of his/her thoughts and actions almost constantly. Everything becomes insignificant by comparison. What good are rights for women and minorities if we cause a nuclear holocaust? What good will it do to save the whales if we cause a nuclear holocaust? What good is a humane sustainable culture if we cause a nuclear holocaust?
To me the sort of “in context” which is in context is “in the context of possible nuclear destruction.” I can easily envision “humane sustainable culture considered in the context of possible nuclear destruction.” Also a Spring 1984 “The Arts and Ceremony in Sustainable Cultures In The Context of Possible Nuclear Destruction,” and likewise for Learning.
I in no way wish to underemphasize the importance of envisioning and creating a humane sustainable culture In fact, the whole object of peacemaking is to produce some sort of peaceful end state. To date, we have had precious little practice envisioning such an end state. It’s interesting that our fairy tales all end “and they all lived happily ever after.” Yet, that happy ever after life is somehow never discussed due to more important business with wicked witches, giants, and evil stepmothers. Even in our literature, we find that the basic element is conflict. To some extent, it is just this history of negativity which should alert us to the contextual relevance of possible nuclear destruction. First, “the masses” are going to be most easily conned into a joyous future out of fear – and we sure have a great ultimate horror movie going right here. Secondly, can we really deny that much of our own concern for positive futures is based on concerns about the negative alternatives?
If, as it seems to me, we must be driven toward a willingness to give in to our higher instincts and truly pleasurable activities by a fear (or at least a healthy respect) of the effects of allowing full reign to our competitiveness and materialism, then surely there must be a central place in our peaceful end state of humane sustainable culture for a realization of why we’re living so idyllically. In short, we’re going to reach a sublime state of moral and spiritual maturity not because it provides true happiness (which it does) or because it’s the “right” thing to do (which it is) but because the alternative is not just personal but species death. Or, to put it another way, humans get pretty crazy sometimes, and when they do it seems necessary to use the stick and use it soundly until they are reconditioned adequately so they begin to enjoy carrots.
A humane sustainable culture is useless if eliminated by nuclear holocaust. A humane sustainable culture is a way to prevent nuclear holocaust. Perhaps the threat of nuclear holocaust will be the motivation for a humane sustainable culture. The real, honest context of a humane sustainable culture is the prevention of omnicide, especially by nuclear war.
Larry Langdon is the author of Creating Peace: A Positive Handbook, and lives in Cottage Grove Oregon.
by Virginia Hoyte
To build the lasting foundations of peace, that the Autumn issue of IN CONTEXT approached from various and rich perspectives, requires a vision, a plan, and dedicated workers. Otherwise, “the drift toward unparalleled disaster,” – given the power of humankind’s old ingrained thinking that Einstein warned of – seems almost certain. Those who have already signed on to help construct these new cornerstones of peace, as well as the architects and laborers who daily grow convinced of the futility, outrage, and certain suicide of modern warfare, will most likely want to know of an outstanding new program designed to help more Americans imagine a world that would no longer permit an ultimate resort to violence.
Beyond War: A New Way of Thinking is a non- political grassroots program aimed at envisioning different ways of finding national security and resolving differences among peoples and nations. It furnishes a set of materials to help further discussions on the problems and needed changes. These few well-planned sets of questions, along with some selected articles, simply and tellingly challenge old paradigms and ask people to understand:
- that war is obsolete;
- that there is an alternative possibility;
- that there is a process of change required which begins with individual decision.
Included is a clearly-written small packet which expands on the goal of building a world beyond war, the strategies for changing the thinking of this nation about war, and a dynamic plan for implementation throughout the country in 1984. Guidelines for leaders who wish to present these ideas and promote discussion are also available, as is a very moving and beautiful slide show with sound track called, “No Frames, No Boundaries,” which has also now been made into a fine short film.
The Beyond War materials are meant to disturb old assumptions on might and right, to foster discussions, interviews and conversations on the causes and uses of war, and to awaken to the possibilities of new options. They provide challenging, in-depth considerations that could lead to new ways of resolving animosities among nations. They help give anyone the courage to approach friends, neighbors or the groups they belong to on the vital importance of planning for and picturing a planet without war. They ask that more and more of us commit ourselves to totally rejecting the old obsolete permission to collude in war. They challenge people to forever reject the military option that leads to suicide. They urge a wholehearted involvement in educating others to the urgency of moving away from the old stuck kind of thinking – thinking that sees military might as the only ultimate protection of freedom.
The Beyond War packet includes the following:
1. The Beyond War Statement
2. Beyond War Plan
3. Beyond War Orientation brochures, 2 copies
4. Beyond War Interviews, 5 copies
5. Ways to begin working for a world Beyond War
6. Articles on WAR IS OBSOLETE
7. Articles on POSSIBILITY
8. Articles on THE PROCESS OF CHANGE
The packets cost $2.00 for the price of reproduction, and can be ordered for any size group. Write to: Creative Initiative Foundation, 222 High Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301,(415) 328-7756. The Beyond War movement provides an important opportunity to become involved in a most-needed transformation of consciousness. All are welcome.
by Robert Schutz
Virginia Hoyte’s “Archetypes” and Robert Fuller’s “Better Game” in the “Foundations of Peace” issue cry out for extension and free association brainstorming in an effort to get us off the train to Armageddon. Neither is complete. Here is my mite toward completion
If we project our shadows on our “enemies,” we need to get acquainted with our “brothers and sisters” as friends. All previous suggestions I have seen for cultural exchange have been drops in the bucket of this need. But we do not have to think small in the effort to rid ourselves of war. Suppose each adult in the USA were given the opportunity to spend 1 year in China; 1 year in Cuba or Poland or Czechoslovakia or Romania or Yugoslavia; and 1 year in Russia at ages 22 and 44 and 66, and that each adult in Russia were given two such choices (say West Germany or France or England or Italy and the USA or Canada or Sweden or Australia) and that each adult in China were given 1 such choice in the year of his or her choosing during a long lifetime. We can all think of fears and objections, but remember the rules of brainstorming: no criticism and let the ideas flow like wildfire. Wildfire consumes all obstacles.
Well, why not? Numbers would be in the millions, but the cost would not be excessive. Compared to our military expenditures, it is peanuts. It could come right out of the Pentagon’s budget as a legitimate aspect of deterrence. We have hundreds of ships in mothballs. We have millions of tons of surplus agricultural production. No one ever accused us of a lack of organizational genius that could put it all together.
We have a great deal to learn from our smart and capable adversaries, a great deal to work on together to produce a convergent system that is better than either of its antecedents.
This may be the game we are looking for.