Editorials of Nancy Roof

High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace

In his invitation to participate in the High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace, UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić honored the work of Kosmos by saying: “Taking into consideration your extensive work and experience in a variety of fields, including the efforts towards shaping a new civilization for the common good… I believe that the membership of the General Assembly would benefit significantly from your deep commitment to the issue of the culture of peace.”  Here is an edited version of the talk I gave at the High-Level Forum on September 6, 2013 at the UN.

Thank you for inviting me to speak on the topic of a culture of peace—the number one concern of all humanity. We are here because we care. We care that people around the globe are in fear, are in pain and suffering. We are motivated by our deep love of humanity and all life. We are outraged at the injustices we face daily.

All of us together can and will create a culture of peace. And now is the time.

It’s a new world. We have outgrown our old ways of doing things. Unlike any other generation, we can communicate and share on a worldwide basis. Humanity is on the move—Ban Ki-Moon calls it the ‘Great Transition.’ We are living in the ‘in-between times’ when there is the greatest opportunity for creative transformation.

We are new humans with a new consciousness and capacity for peaceful and non-violent change. We realize that we must change ourselves to change the world. As we speak, millions are working to master their fears and anger, while meditating and praying for peace. Many are developing new intuitive capacities that bring new perspectives to our rational solutions. Millions are meeting in small circles developing collective intelligence and group solidarity for the common good.

New worldviews are emerging. We are moving from a culture of individual self-interest to the good of the whole. Hierarchies are dissolving into decentralized and horizontal power structures. Local communities with global impact bring our survival needs closer to home. Cooperation is fast becoming not only a value but a necessity.

We are rethinking all of our outdated institutions that foster inequality and benefit the few at the expense of the many. We are preparing for a new era where everyone counts. We must make the systemic changes that are needed in all fields of endeavor if we are to succeed in creating peace.

Idealistic? These changes are happening right now. You can read about them in Kosmos Journal. A strategy for a culture of peace includes changing ourselves, developing a new collective worldview, and transforming our institutions. In addition, our strategy should include:

1.  Focusing on prevention. We need a new wellness model for peace that addresses the deeper causes of violence. It is outrageous that we are spending over two trillion dollars a year on military budgets and defense, while spending a pittance on prevention. Imagine how different our world would be if we had that money available for research and development of peace.

2.  Developing an inclusive approach that scales from individual, interior or spiritual development to community, national and global. The weakest of these, I believe, is interior or spiritual development. We often see skilled activists who have not addressed their inner subjective reality and, therefore, become liabilities to the groups in which they are involved. And vice versa, we find spiritually oriented people without skills in action. Today, we need both!

3.  Recognizing the interdependence of all strategies and linking them to increase the impact. Linking different efforts together has proved to be a difficult task. Some groups believe that theirs is the only right way, preventing the collaboration necessary for effective impact.

4.  Recognizing the essential role of global civil society. Although there is an increasing recognition that it takes the whole world to change the whole world, we still need more recognition of the vital role civil society plays. Some examples of the many successful efforts of NGOs are:

River Phoenix Foundation, Gainesville, Florida—a full-community effort to prevent violence; The Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace—gathering in Geneva 2013 to initiate Ministries of Peace in all countries; Nonviolent Peaceforce—International Peace and Security by the People; Goi Peace Foundation—‘May Peace Prevail on Earth,’ Peace Pole Project.

5.  Supporting the Global Commons Movement of the People for sharing and self-governance of resources including freedom of information and communication. A fast-growing movement that involves neither markets nor states but relies on people managing their own resources and preserving them for future generations.

6.  Supporting independent media and citizen journalism. Where do you get your information? Is it accurate and unbiased? Does it exacerbate violence or create a culture of peace? Traditional media worldwide favors the establishment and in many cases is owned by corporations. The rise of citizen and independent media are essential now if we are to be truly informed.

7. Initiating a Global Citizen Movement. The Widening Circle Campaign is doing pioneering work towards a Global Citizens Movement, as are Civicus and others at a gathering in South Africa, November 2013.

The opportunity for change is now. We are living in a new world with new human capacities and new worldviews. In this time of the Great Transition, we must make systemic and radical changes to all our institutions to reflect our new values and capacities. We must focus on prevention, share the earth’s resources, and come together as global citizens in a world community that cares enough to make the radical changes needed to create the new world.