Monday, October 24, 2016

The Mind of the "World Beyond War" Activist

Adopting a "world beyond war" frame -- saying "war is going away; the question for me is how fast" -- implies optimism-realism, outcome orientation, and humility.


The path ahead . . . .
(Image: Trail Racing Over Texas)


"A lot of people are opposed to war, but what might look different when a group of people approach war as a soon-to-be-obsolete institution?"

This is a question I posed a few weeks ago in WAR: Headed for the junkheap, yes . . . but how quickly?

In that post, I talked about the growing community of people who share a conviction that the world will get to the point where war is a discredited, abandoned institution (like slavery) ... and they see that it makes a difference how quickly (and in what manner) the world gets there. And then I asked, What is different when a person adopts this new frame -- "war is going away; the question for me is how fast"?

Three differences come to mind . . . .

A new relationship to optimism and to realism.  One of the greatest challenges we face, as we work for a better future, is to live in hope while at the same time not underestimating the challenges we face.  I think one of the benefits of this new frame -- "war is going away; the question for me is how fast" -- is that it is grounded in optimism, while at the same time establishing a basis for cold-eyed analysis of what's working and what isn't. (That analysis includes an understanding of the extreme depth and breadth of the current war system.) 

To put it another way, I think this is a frame that encourages us to be hopeful but not naive; realistic but not cynical.

We can disagree on the path. A good friend once told me a word that refers to the way different pathways may be taken and still successfully reach a given result: "equifinality." I think that, as more and more people adopt this new frame -- "war is going away; the question for me is how fast" -- we will become better and better at respecting different approaches, and figuring out how to gain strength from each other.

When we act from a place of frustration, it is difficult to see the value in differences. When we act from a place of hope, difference can spark inspiration.

When we act from a place of oversimplification, there is no room for people who don't fit our model. When we act from a place of realism, differences don't catch us off guard.

To put it another way, we adopt a respectful curiosity about outcomes. What we all sincerely agree on is that we're hoping for the same result in the end.

Humility. We are basing our work on a belief about the future, and that requires us to adopt a posture of humility. We simply can't know for sure how the future will pan out; we don't get to say, "I'm right and you're wrong."


I believe these three differences -- optimism-realism, outcome orientation, and humility -- are important. I think they put us in a much better position to address the next question: How might adopting this new frame enable people to see more clearly the strategic points of impact to cause the more rapid disappearance of war?


Related posts

There is a growing movement of people focused on the "world beyond war." To many of these people, the question is not "if" but "when?" They share a conviction that the world will get there, and they see that it makes a difference how quickly (and in what manner) the world gets there.

(See WAR: Headed for the junkheap, yes . . . but how quickly?)




The strategic challenge we face is to wake up to the fact that -- globally -- we are pursuing peace work in diverse ways . . . and then figure out a way to take advantage of the inherent strength in the existence of these diverse approaches.

(See Global Peace Movement: Big, Networked, Diverse)





Rachel Bauman asks: "How can we manage to talk successfully with people who believe different things than we do?"

Curiosity, leaning into conflict, humility, respect . . . .
(See 4 Aids for Those Important, Difficult Conversations)