In 1982, Gordon Scott, President of the Peace Foundation, asked me to write its Vision Statement. Both of us were graduates of the est Training.
Gordon was murdered in Belize just a few years later. The Peace Foundation did not survive his death.
The document is ponderous and philosophical. But, having said that, I also could not write today as clearly, in as well-reasoned a manner, as I did here.
I’ve reposted it before, but it keeps getting more relevant as the years pass.
In the course of a maturing social relationship, human beings have seen and faced problematic social conditions like hunger and plague, slavery and poverty.
Though still present or possible in human affairs, these conditions disappeared as an everyday feature of the lives of enough people that the idea arose that they need not be a feature of the lives of any.
As each was recognized as a condition rather than a principle of life, an artifact rather than a fact, attention was freed for human beings to look for other conditions presented as principles. Problems not totally resolved were brought from the background of human consciousness to the foreground, where human choice resides.
The Peace Foundation is a response to the challenge of seeing war as a condition rather than a principle of life, an artifact rather than a fact. Holding war as an intentional human creation, the Peace Foundation is the stand that war shall end on this planet by the year 2000 [2023?].
People who see war as an artifact, rather than a fact, are enabled to examine new questions. For example, if war is neither necessary nor inevitable, why does it persist? What ends does it serve? What fact of life breeds war as a condition?
Or, given that human beings have no need to turn on one another, what are the principles of a life lived outside the condition of war? How might people behave without resort to arms? How might civilization be conducted? How might consensus be built? What would be the condition of satisfaction in a world without triumph and defeat?
If the human community addresses war in the same way it addressed slavery, then ideological camps or poles of opinion will likely arise on these questions around different value- orientations. Academic schools of thought will develop, emphasizing one or another causal factor. Paradigms will arise as individuals glimpse more and more of the way things are for the human community.
The clash of opinion need not be seen as an invalidation of the principles of peace. Opinion will shift with each to and fro of events, but the whole will be gradually forwarded as each distinction comes to light, so that to hunger and plague, slavery and poverty will be added war as something no longer to be humanly tolerated. A humanity bent on maturation can come to notice and formulate ways to live in a world without war.
There is a word that is widely used today, whose common usage obscures a common misunderstanding of its referrent; that word is “peace.” What we mean by that word is surely an event so transforming that any verbal description of it has neither the breadth to envelop it nor the power to convey it. (1) In the past we’ve conceived of peace as being that which is when war is not, Only interimly can it be conceived that way.
Now we have the opportunity to see peace as being capacious enough to hold war within it without being invalidated or destroyed by war. Clearly, a cessation of war goes on within peace; not so clearly, war goes on within peace as well.
Peace is a land on which weeds as well as crops grow. Peace is a cloud which spews forth hail as well as rain. Peace cannot be captured in a web of words any more than love can. It’s more basic to human life than language.
As a fact, rather than an artifact, of human life, peace has not even been noticed by many until recently, while language has been developed and studied for millennia.
Peace having been recently noticed, people have begun to establish some metaphors and identities so that they can point in the direction of peace and be pointing at more than just the absence of war. An opportunity now arises to discover and align with the laws and principles of peace.
The Peace Foundation holds forth the vision of a world without war, a world fully expressing peace. The Peace Foundation is designed to be a potent force in the work of shifting the order of human affairs from skill at war to availability to peace.
Many of its goals and methods are not yet determined and will take form as an expression of its members’ will. Nonetheless, all the activities of the Peace Foundation will derive from this stand: that the year 2000 shall see war renounced as an instrument of policy in favour of peace on Earth and an Earth at peace.
(1) Having now had at least two experiences of peace as a divine quality, which is what I here call a “context” (they’re the same), I can relate back to my younger self that indeed “what we mean by that word [peace] is … an event so transforming that any verbal description of it has neither the breadth to envelop it nor the power to convey it.” Yes. Right on. Third-dimensional words cannot describe it. There is no common language developed yet around it. But there will be.