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Beyond War

from: https://beyondwarnw.org

With the recent bellicose exchanges between our current President and the leader of North Korea the very real threat of nuclear war has emerged again. It is time to renew our dialogue and actions to get beyond war.

Beyond War was a non-political, educational organization started in the San Francisco Bay Area, that was active from 1981 to 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the widespread perception that the threat of nuclear war was no longer imminent and the essential goals of Beyond War had been met, the founders met and decided to radically expand the goals of the movement. It was to become even more inclusive and the name was changed to Foundation for Global Community (FGC). Click here for links to more history of this Beyond War movement up to 2010 when FGC ceased all activity.

However, with concern mounting about the direction of the “war on terror”, and boosted by a certain amount of outrage at the second U.S. led assault on Iraq, taking place in March 2003, a group of long time Beyond War/Global Community members based in Portland and Eugene, Oregon were roused to action, which lead to the forming of Beyond War Northwest:

Their vision is “an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just world that works for all.”

Their purpose is to focus on developing the Beyond War message in new forms to keep the principles and practices dynamic, alive, contemporary, relevant, and cross-cultural:

  • to empower people to educate themselves about the options for resolving conflict that do not involve violence,
  • to create social change through meaningful and rewarding relationship building, and
  • to work for peace, peacefully.

“The Mission of Beyond War Northwest is to explore, model and promote the means for humanity to live without war. The nature of the work demands that we learn new ways to live together across cultures: letting go of alienated, polarizing behaviors, to learn anew how to build relationships with each other and to work together to address the needs of all.

“It is in this spirit, and given the political conditions that have arisen in our country, that Beyond War Northwest is now endeavoring to create a new outreach program focused on helping the public to engage in dialogue. Learning communication skills and actually participating in respectful dialogue can help reduce the current polarization which is threatening both our nation, and our efforts to create a more peaceful world.”

“The idea for the program is to host small group conversations within organizations and the wider community. The dialogues will be organized and informed by conflict resolution practices. Participants will have a chance to learn and practice skills that empower them to engage more thoughtfully and creatively in political conversations and thinking. The need for these kinds of opportunities was recently asserted by a potential participant, who stated, “We may not be so far apart, but we need better communication skills to share ideas and listen to each other.”

If you, or an organization that you are involved in, would like to learn more about this new program as it develops, and potentially get involved, please contact Beyond War’s Executive Director, Kara Steffensen, at info@beyondwarnw.org. Beyond War Northwest is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

If you can find the time, watch this 1:27 minute introductory video on Beyond War.

The Meta Center for Non-Violence outlines a roadmap compass that involves the steps of building community; training in nonviolence principles; and creating and pursuing strategic thinking toward the realization of campaign goals.


A partial reading list from Beyond War Northwest:

  • In Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, Arlie Russell Hochschild concludes that the way southerners were shamed for their way of life during the Civil War and again during the Civil Rights era is influencing political views today.
  • On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder is a short pithy book with 20 recommendations to protect against an autocratic takeover of our form of government, such as  “Do Not obey in advance” and “Take responsibility for the face of the world.”
  • Churchill and Orwell by Thomas Ricks is the story of two men from opposite political perspectives who both sought to protect democracy from authoritarianism.
  • To move on to action for positive change, Joanna Macy describes our need to mourn our pain in her book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy.
  • In Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, author Graham Allison argues that history does not have to repeat itself. (Remember the Peloponnesian War?)
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman.
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • The Third Side by Bill Ury
  • Dying to Win by Robert Tate
  • Living Beyond War by Winslow Myers

Yes, what we must fight is fear and silence, and with them the spiritual isolation they involve. What we must defend is dialogue and the universal communication of men.”    Albert Camus, 1946

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