The Single Most Important Idea Needed to End WarNovember 2, 2009
The Single Most Important Idea Needed to End War is the Belief that it is Possible
When the AFWW website was first envisioned (2003), most people were highly skeptical that humanity could ever escape the curse of war. If asked, “Do you believe it is possible for humans to create a future without war,” the overwhelming majority of people answered, No.
They said it was a wonderful concept, something they could wish for, but not realistically possible.
No man gives generously of his hard-won financial resources to the bottomless pit of a lost cause.
No woman works tirelessly to reach a goal her heart believes can never be reached.
No one passionately reaches out to enlist others in a campaign that’s a fool’s dream.
No politicians will wage a campaign to end wars if they judge the idea to be ridiculous. We may admire Don Quixote’s willingness and unswerving determination to dream the impossible dream, but we don’t want to be him.
We can never build something magnificent if we don’t believe in its value and in our ability to accomplish the task. To end wars, we must believe it is possible.
- to highlight the importance of belief (see Embrace The Goal)
- to briefly describe nine cornerstones upon which a campaign strategy to end war must be built (see Nine Cornerstones)
- to place this effort in its historical context (see How Far We Have Come)
- to suggest a vision to guide a campaign to end wars (see The Vision Thing)
- to indicate the nature of an essential Secret Ingredient and catalyst for change, and
- to indicate how long this campaign might take (see How Long It Will Take)
Explore all of these essays at the website, and others as well, and you’ll have a better sense of why and how a campaign to abolish war can succeed in two generations or less from the time we resolve to do it.
When we have done our work and we have generated a critical mass of believers, nothing will be able to stop this “idea whose time has come.” Human cultures can change with amazing speed. Less than 100 years ago women of high status in China had their feet bound — the bones broken and the flesh pinched — to suit an ideal of beauty that was deeply embedded in Chinese customs. Barely 100 years ago women in New Zealand won the right to vote — we now have women at the highest levels of government in many countries around the globe. For thousands of years slavery — the owning of one human by another — was considered necessary, normal, acceptable. Great and famous people owned many slaves. In Britain the abolitionists ended the slave trade and in so doing, they delegitimized slavery, hopefully forever.
In fact, huge changes can occur in a generation or less when we really put our mind and resources to it. One of the greatest and most rapid changes ever accomplished was achieved in a wide variety of places as the Catholic Church Christianized entire cutlures, sometimes in less than a generation.
What is the great challenge of our generation? It is to put an end to war. In the process we put in place the rule of cooperation, collaboration, negotiation, and compromise.
And we need to be quick about it, because an avalanché of massive problems–social, political, and ecological–is descending upon us.