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Beyond War Northwest Updates

Bridging the Cultural Divide

by Martin Jones

We’re living in a deeply divided and conflicted country. The recent election cycle has pried open a cultural division that now appears as a gaping societal wound that threatens our ability to come together to address and solve the important questions and issues that we all face together. How can we reconcile different world-views?

As Bill Ury of the Harvard Negotiating Project states in his excellent book The Third Side: Why We Fight and How We Can Stop, “No more critical challenge faces each of us, and all of us together, than how to live together in a world of differences. So much depends on our ability to handle our conflict peacefully — our happiness at home, our performance at work, the livability of our communities, and, in this age of mass destruction, the survival of our species.”

If we cannot resolve conflicts peacefully in our own lives, how can we expect there to be peace in the world?  It’s natural to be upset or angry about decisions or policies that threaten our core values or beliefs.  But when we pose enemies, or vocally demean decision makers, we are contributing to the Us / Them divide that adds to the alienation and separation we so fervently wish to heal.  Instead, using that energy to work with others to positively address policies and problems can be far more productive, not to mention mentally calming!

To this end, several of us in Beyond War Northwest are making presentations to service clubs, churches, universities and living rooms.   The title is “A Challenge to Change Our Thinking About Conflict, Violence and War.” As Carl Jung said, how a society reacts to conflict mirrors how that society’s members react to conflict individually. We explore how unaddressed conflict can escalate; how and why we react to conflict as we do; and we present some practical tools that people can use right away to improve their ability to deal with conflict – especially communication and listening skills. The results can be improved interpersonal relationships and the nonviolent resolution of conflicts at all levels.

If you would like to schedule this talk for your group or organization, or become a presenter, please call the office at 541-343-5536.

 

“Questioning the Heart and Mind” of political candidates–Focusing on Issues of War and Peace

We invite you to join Beyond War Northwest in bringing important issues to the attention of the American voter and raising the level of the national debate. We believe that many candidates are not motivated to think through important questions regarding preventing war because they don’t understand that their constituents care.

This list of questions is designed to facilitate deeper thinking by candidates and everyone. These questions are designed to motivate and create curiosity about constructive, nonviolent conflict resolution, and about how we might go about building a world beyond war.

Please:

  1. share these questions widely in conversations,
  2. talk about them with your friends,
  3. ask them in town hall meetings with elected officials and candidates and in telephone calls to their aides, and
  4. present them to your communities in letters to the editor and opinion editorials.

Please ask these questions only with an attitude of goodwill.

Contact us at beyondwarnw.org to report your experiences.  Be sure to send us copies of any published letters to the editor, or opinion editorials, including the masthead of the newspaper.

Please note that Beyond War Northwest is working on a self-facilitated study series which will be available in 2017 and will address these questions.

The Questions:

Question 1: “In light of all of the costs of war,

  • the cost in human lives
  • the cost in alienation with foreign peoples and their governments
  • the cost in distraction from all of the other things we need to do to build our  country
  • the actual dollar costs–and the ballooning federal deficit

and given the fact that our country is still involved in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and in struggles with terrorism that are stated to be wars, what can you do, if you are elected or re-elected and what can the United States government do, to prevent wars and terrorism from happening?”

Question 2: “What kind of models should the United States use and present to the world in support for international law, nonviolent conflict resolution, humanitarian aid, and collaboration with other countries? For example, what changes, if any, would you advocate in the current structure of the United Nations to make it a more effective vehicle for peace and order in the world?”

Question 3: “What do you think about the moratorium on nuclear weapons testing? Do you support the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty?” What is the United States’ and international criteria for choosing countries allowed to have nuclear weapons and who are the decision-makers who determine these criteria? Do you agree with this or any criteria, and who should decide it and act on it?

Question 4:  “What do you think about preemptive war?”

Question 5: “How do you think international arms sales affect the economy, stability, and prospects for order in the developed and developing world?”

Question 6: “Many people in the Arab world blame the United States for the plight of the Palestinians, with whom they identify.  How best can the United States help the Israelis and Palestinians achieve agreement on coexistence, and do this in a way that builds respect with the Arab World as well as the people of Israel?”

We request that you ask these questions with an attitude of goodwill and genuine curiosity.

These questions were composed by participants in Beyond War Northwest.

 

Peacebuilding, a four-book discussion series is ready for you to use.

Our Beyond War Northwest Book Group, in Eugene, selected four books for this series that
provide positive examples of conflict transformation and peace attained on personal, societal, and international levels.

We created a group discussion guide which you can personalize and use in your own community.

We used the following criteria when selecting the books: suitable for a public library audience, not overly long, recently written, not alienating to any particular group of people, well-written, reflect the principles and practices of Beyond War.

The books selected are:
The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action, Michael Nagler (2014), 84 pages. Practical nonviolent means for resolving conflict and creating significant social change.

What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife, David Harris Gershon (2013), 332 pages. A personal story of understanding “the other side.”

Knowing Mandela: A Personal Portrait, John Carlin (2013), 160 pages. Mandela’s compassion, understanding and pragmatism in transforming conflict.

Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now, Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze (2011), 264 pages. Examples of creatively reaching peaceful ends.

The discussion guide is available here as a pdf. This version allows you to read it online: Book Discussion GuideBWNWfor reading online. This version allows you to print it out as a brochure: PeacebuildingBookDiscussionSeriesupdatedBWNW It is also available in Microsoft Word or Publisher by request to annemill@beyondwarnw.org

 

“Seeing Systems: Peace, Justice and Sustainability” created by the Northwest Earth Institute in collaboration with us is ready to use. Focused on the interrelationship amongst peace, justice and environmental sustainability, the discussion course provides a non-prescriptive framework to take action on issues that matter. If you live in the Eugene, area, we are organizing a new discussion group. Contact us for more information. You can also start your own group and order copies of the discussion guide at www.nwei.org

 

A Letter from the Board 2015

    Dear Beyond War Friends,

The ideas promulgated by Beyond War in the 1980’s are commonplace and becoming more nuanced and pragmatic. The concept of the interdependency of humanity as a whole provides the backbone to the peace, justice, and environmental movements with the value of creating a world that works for everyone.

Thank each of you for your part in creating and sustaining this movement that is transforming the world.

As you may know, the learning engine behind BWNW is the book group. With the creation of book study guides, BWNW disseminates current and vital material that continues to deepen the conversations about how to create a world beyond war. We are actively building this world together.

We also have an ongoing curriculum committee and are creating an updated study series to be finished in 2016. We look forward to starting study groups again.

This year of BWNW, the second year of our existence, continues our collaborative relationship with the War Prevention Initiative in Portland. Our books and discussion questions are a part of the Rotarian Action Groups for Peace as a recommended activity to participate in and to share with the larger community through libraries and living room gatherings. Jim Anderson is active in leading a Southtowne Rotary peace group in Eugene whose speakers have included Clair Wiles, a returned Iraq Navy veteran who teaches at North Eugene High School, Al Jubitz, a leader in Rotarian Action Groups for Peace, and several others.

The beautiful Beyond War mural at Churchill High School continues to inspire the teachers and students in the Rachel Carson School and we have a position on the Rachel Carson advisory board—bringing together peace and environmental work for high school students. (We now have BW t-shirts based on this mural project if you would like one for yourself- please leave a message at 541-343-5865.)

Our group facilitated the Hiroshima commemoration events in town, such as the Bike Around the Bomb Nagasaki memorial event with Global Zero. In collaboration with other groups, BWNW hosted an International Day of Peace event at the University of Oregon Law School with photos of the devastation of Hiroshima along with the film, Hellfire: A Journey From Hiroshima, where Hideko Tamura Snider, a survivor of Hiroshima, was part of a post film panel.

The Beyond War University of Oregon student group supported these events and hosted “Breaking the Silence”–public dialogues with homeless people, immigrants, and veterans

There is a continuous flow of learning, discussing and then sharing ideas. Dave and Anne O’Brien have warmly offered their home as our monthly meeting place and have hosted seminal salons this year with David Hartsough, David Caye Johnston, and Ground Zero founders. We have also attended the training by the author Riviera Sun—who is guiding peace groups into strategic thinking through her book and discussion guide.

Martin Jones and Dave O’Brien will be speaking at the Downtown Lions club on February 17th and we hope to keep the speaking engagements booked for them and others in the future.

The progress of our small nonprofit is not only in working together and collaborating with others but also in learning together. Reweaving Our Human Fabric, Working Together to Create a Nonviolent Future by Miki Kashtan is the book we will be studying for 5 sessions beginning in January. You are invited to attend these groups. The book talks about the pragmatics of building nonviolence into the structure of our society. We heartily encourage you to find this book and read it and share it with others. It is our first book pick for this year.

We are interested in what you are doing. Send us an e-mail.

Please join in on any discussions through responding to our bimonthly newsletters and through utilizing materials offered on our BWNW website http://www.beyondwarnw.org

We hope you have an abiding personal peace to fuel our work together. The world needs the hope, skills, learning and dialogue that BWNW fosters.

If you want to further support BWNW by making a contribution toward the publishing of our study guide, we would be grateful.

Hope to see and talk with you this year.

Warmly,

Ann Cole, President of BWNW

Beyond War Northwest
1490 W. 26th Ave.
Eugene, OR 97405

Beyond War Northwest is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Oregon, USA.  Our Federal EIN is: 20-0912219.