How to End War One Person at a Time
Seven Practices for Peacemakers
War is the
plague that human beings bring upon themselves. It is also a plague we
might be able to end. On any given day since you and I were born, some
part of the world has been at war – in 2003 the total number
of open conflicts was thirty. In the twentieth century at least 108
million people died in wars. Of the 20 largest military budgets on
earth, 14 belong to developing countries. The United States spends more
on its military than the next 16 countries combined.
That war is
the major problem in the world is undeniable. The need for
a new idea is just as undeniable. The new idea is to bring peace one
person at a time until the world reaches a critical mass of peacemakers
instead of war makers.
Ending War Hasn't Worked
Peace movements have tried three ways for bringing war to an end:
Activism, the approach of putting political pressure on governments
that wage war. Activism involves protests and public demonstrations,
lobbying and political commitment. Almost every war creates some kind
of peace movement opposed to it.
has it failed?
• Because the protesters are not heard.
• Because they are worn down by frustration and resistance.
• Because they are far outnumbered by the war interests in
• Because their idealism turns to anger and violence.
Activism has left us with the ironic picture of outraged peacemakers
who wind up contributing to the total sum of violence in the world.
Humanitarianism, the approach of helping the victims of war. Bringing
relief to victims is an act of kindness and compassion. As embodied by
the International Red Cross, this effort is ongoing and attracts
thousands of volunteers worldwide. Every nation on earth approves of
has it failed?
• Because humanitarians are wildly outnumbered by soldiers and
• Because of finances. The International Red Cross's annual
budget of $1.8 billion dollars is a tiny fraction of military budgets
around the world.
• Because the same countries that wage war also conduct
humanitarian efforts, keeping the two activities very separate.
• Because humanitarians show up on the scene after the war has
Personal transformation, the approach of ending war one person at a
time. The prevailing idea is that war begins in each human heart and
can only end there. The religious tradition of praying for peace is the
closest most people will ever come to ending war in their own hearts.
Most people have actually never heard of this approach.
has it failed?
• Because nobody has really tried it.
War Ends With You
The approach of personal transformation is the idea of the future for
ending war. It depends on the only advantage that people of peace have
over warmakers: sheer numbers. If enough people in the world
transformed themselves into peacemakers, war could end. The leading
idea here is critical mass. It took a critical mass of human beings to
embrace electricity and fossil fuels, to teach evolution and adopt
every major religion. When the time is right and enough people
participate, critical mass can change the world.
it end war?
There is precedent to believe that it might. The ancient Indian ideal
of Ahimsa, or non-violence, gave Gandhi his guiding principle of
reverence for life. In every spiritual tradition it is believed that
peace must exist in one's heart before it can exist in the outer world.
Personal transformation deserves a chance.
Practices for Peace
The program for peacemakers asks you to follow a specific practice
every day, each one centered on the theme of peace.
Our hope is that you will create peace on every level of your life.
Each practice takes only a few minutes. You can be as private or
outspoken as you wish. But those around you will know that you are for
peace, not just through good intentions but by the way you conduct your
life on a daily basis.
Today, take 5 minutes to meditate for peace. Sit quietly with your eyes
closed. Put your attention on your heart and inwardly repeat these four
words: Peace, Harmony, Laughter, Love. Allow these words to radiate
from your heart's stillness out into your body.
As you end your meditation, say to yourself, “Today I will
relinquish all resentments and grievances.” Bring into your
mind anyone against whom you have a grievance and let it go. Send that
person your forgiveness.
power when it is backed by intention. Today, introduce the
intention of peace in your thoughts. Take a few moments of silence,
then repeat this ancient prayer:
me be loved, let me be happy, let me be peaceful.
Let my friends be happy, loved, and peaceful.
Let my perceived enemies be happy, loved, and peaceful.
Let all beings be happy, loved, and peaceful.
Let the whole world experience these things.
during the day if you are overshadowed by fear or anger, repeat these
intentions. Use this prayer to get back on center.
This is the day to experience the emotions of peace. The emotions of
peace are compassion, understanding, and love.
• Compassion is the feeling of shared suffering. When you feel
someone else's suffering, there is the birth of understanding.
• Understanding is the knowledge that suffering is shared by
everyone. When you understand that you aren't alone in your suffering,
there is the birth of love.
• When there is love there is the opportunity for peace.
As you practice, observe a stranger some time during your day. Silently
say to yourself, “This person is just like me. Like me, this
person has experienced joy and sorrow, despair and hope, fear and love.
Like me, this person has people in his or her life who deeply care and
love them. Like me, this person's life is impermanent and will one day
end. This person's peace is as important as my peace. I want peace,
harmony, laughter, and love in their life and the life of all
Today, the purpose of speaking is to create happiness in the listener.
Have this intention: Today every word I utter will be chosen
consciously. I will refrain from complaints, condemnation, and
Your practice is to do at least one of the following:
• Tell someone how much you appreciate them.
• Express genuine gratitude to those who have helped and loved
• Offer healing or nurturing words to someone who needs them.
• Show respect to someone whose respect you value.
If you find that you are reacting negatively to anyone, in a way that
isn't peaceful, refrain from speaking and keep silent. Wait
to speak until you feel centered and calm, and then speak with respect.
Today is the day to help someone in need: A child, a sick person, an
older or frail person. Help can take many forms. Tell yourself,
“Today I will bring a smile to a stranger's face. If someone
acts in a hurtful way to me or someone else, I will respond with a
gesture of loving kindness. I will send an anonymous gift to someone,
however small. I will offer help without asking for gratitude or
Today, come up with at least one creative idea to resolve a conflict,
either in your personal life or your family circle or among friends. If
you can, try and create an idea that applies to your community, the
nation, or the whole world.
You may change an old habit that isn't working, look at someone a new
way, offer words you never offered before, or think of an activity that
brings people together in good feeling and laughter.
Second, invite a family member or friend to come up with one creative
idea of this kind on their own. Creativity feels best when you are the
one thinking up the new idea or approach. Make it known that you accept
and enjoy creativity. Be loose and easy. Let the ideas flow and try out
anything that has appeal. The purpose here is to bond, because only
when you bond with others can there be mutual trust. When you trust,
there is no need for hidden hostility and suspicion, which are the two
great enemies of peace.
• Today, share your practice of peacemaking with two people.
Give them this information and invite them to begin the daily practice.
As more of us participate in this sharing, our practice will expand
into a critical mass.
• Today joyfully celebrate your own peace consciousness with
at least one other peace-conscious person. Connect either through
e-mail or phone.
• Share your experience of growing peace.
• Share your gratitude that someone else is as serious about
peace as you are.
• Share your ideas for helping the world move closer to
• Do whatever you can, in small or large ways, to assist
anyone who wants to become a peacemaker.
Best Reason to Become a Peacemaker
Now you know the program. If you transform yourself into a peacemaker,
you won't become an activist marching in the streets. You will not be
“anti” anything. No money is required. All you are
asked to do is to go within and dedicate yourself to peace. It just
Even if you don't immediately see a decline in violence around the
world, you will know in your heart that you have dedicated your own
life to peace. But the single best reason to become a peacemaker is
that every other approach has failed.
We don't know what number the critical mass is—the best we
can hope is to bring about change by personal transformation. Isn't it
worth a few moments of your day to end 30 wars around the world and
perhaps every future war that is certain to break out? Right now there
are 21.3 million soldiers serving in armies around the world. Can't we
recruit a peace brigade ten times larger? A hundred times larger?
The effort begins now, with you
The Original Meaning of Mothers'
Mother's Day began
with a woman named Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), who nursed the wounded during
the American Civil War. She was a poet who co-published the anti-slavery
newspaper "The Commonwealth" with her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe. In 1861 she
wrote the words to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," which became the
recognized theme song of the Union during the Civil War. In 1870 she started a
crusade to institute a Mother's Day as a Day for Peace. After the war Howe
continued writing, became active in the woman's suffrage movement and advocated
world peace. In 1908 she became the first woman elected to the American Academy
of Arts and Letters.
Here is the text of
the original, pre-Hallmark, Mother's Day Proclamation, penned in Boston by Julia
Ward Howe in 1870:
Arise then, women of this day!
women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have great questions answered by irrelevant
Our husbands will not come to us reeking with carnage,
caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience.
We, the women of one country,
will be too tender of those of another
to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
our own. It says: "Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
not wipe our dishonor,
nor violence indicate possession.
As men have
often forsaken the plough and the anvil
at the summons of war,
women now leave all that may be left of home
for a great and earnest day of
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
whereby the great human family can live in peace,
each bearing after
his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God.
name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
that a general congress of
women without limit of nationality
may be appointed and held at some place
deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its
to promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
amicable settlement of international questions,
the great and general
interests of peace.