Moving beyond war, in the Middle East and world

Wednesday, 01 January 2009


Dear Ones,

     At year-end 2008, we write to you more personally.
     You can imagine how much despairing news and e-mail arrived in our home from both Palestinians and Jews.
     Within days, so much increased killing in the Holy Land - several in Israel, hundreds in Gaza.
     As if deepening the rivers of blood will help either wonderful people become safer, or more reasonable, cooperative, or human.
     After sixty years, there still is an abject failure of communication and refusal to engage like humans.
     Even today, almost no Palestinians and almost no Jews - here or overseas - have ever met the "other" in any depth.
     A college junior wrote:  "We might as well live in the cave age."

     We see what fails - the normalization of disengagement, separation, and all forms of violence and humiliation.
     And we are seeing what works and what is news.

     Unexpected phone calls from TV, radio, and newspaper reporters arrived here within hours of the new Holy Land carnage.
     Faster than ever, they wanted more than traditional interviewees "in solidarity" who would predictably take "sides" and blame the "other."
     Peter Bock described it well in his new 2008 book - COMMUNITY: The Structure of Belonging.
     The media is slowly changing its thinking about lead stories.
     What citizens are doing to change their communities and world are no longer "human interest stores" but serious news.
     In the past 36 hours this happened here.
     WATCH and HEAR lead TV and radio news reports at the bottom of page:


     To begin 2009, we would like to leave you with the essence of what we two have learned about life and about change.
     We have sat at the feet of many extraordinary teachers, some from antiquity.
     Much is rooted in our experience of working in the 1980s with several hundred families to birth the successful Beyond War movement.
     We add from our authentic experiences from decades of bringing together many "enemies."
     Naturally, we've learned much from each other in our 41 years of marriage - "the gymnasium of the spirit."

    Below we outline for you the best we have to offer, based in life experience and respectful of social science.
     We're practical people who take seriously that "faith is not sitting on a chair that isn't there."
     This is not about a "quick fix" for Israel or Palestine or any protracted conflicts.
     This is about a process of change that must be chosen and lived, one person at a time.
     It is the long-distance run.
     The timing and outcomes cannot be promised, but the life is a great one worth living.
     It's the best we can recommend for this age of participation - The Citizens' Century.
     Bless you in this new year of new possibilities.

Love,           Libby and Len

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Moving Beyond War

     From our life experiences, here is informaton and conditions to be fulfilled to live full lives that lead to a world of cooperation.
     Living beyond war requires (1) knowledge, (2) decision, and (3) action. 


     War is obsolete - not extinct, but outmoded and ineffective.  With nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons forever available,  we must learn the discoverable ways to resolve inevitable conflict without violence.
     All is one - echad, wahad, odin, uno.  There is no individual survival, only cooperation to succeed as one diverse community.  We are neighbors forever and now must expand our restricted identification to include all humankind, the interconnected living creation. 


"The Age of Nations is past. 

The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to

shake off our ancient prejudices, and to build the earth."

        - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1936

"The world in which you were born is just one model of reality.

Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you;

they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.

        - Wade Davis


     Decision - to cut (-cision) "away from" (de-); from L. decidere, to decide - remove doubt, make up one's mind to change.
     Pre-decide about violence.  If we do not decide in advance, the heat of serious conflict renders most people incapable of rejecting violence.
     Personal decision determines the future.  To forever reject violence - the obsolete - and live as one, will release the needed, unprecedented creativity and energy to invent our new world beyond war.  Without a citizen's decision, it will be impossible for society to discover the new.  We cannot preview all that will happen.  Each person must draw upon individual and collective experiences of making such "leaps" as a basis of one's own life - the foundation of societal change.
     Change is binary.  Deciding "no" to violence requires citizens to also define and paint a picture of the "yes" - what life beyond war looks like when people properly connect, communicate, cooperate, and create together.


     The means determines ends.  We can choose either the method or the goal, but not both.  To reach the moon, we needed to discover and obey pre-existing principles.  To live in a world beyond war, there are discoverable means.  We cannot want peace and use any the forms of violent means.  The method of living beyond war includes creating successful relationships.
     Communication is the beginning and the power.  Listening to everyone - no exceptions - is a first step.  Human experience reveals that "an enemy is one whose story we have not heard."  Listening is one of the great acts of healing and of love.  The citizen with the will and the skill to listen has the power to transform the relationship.  Excluding anyone drives them to desperation and is not consistent with life beyond war.
     Sustained relationships change people.  Finally we begin to see one another as human and as equal.  The grand personal change is this: we begin to want the best for the "other" and not only for self. 
     Working with others, agree on principles while expanding and deepening the circle of citizens. With the knowledge that war is obsolete and all is one, and having pre-decided about violence, citizens then cooperate in perpetual outreach to provide similar activities for others to enter into this "public peace process" of change.
     Telling our stories inspires change. More than fear or facts, the power of human success stories compels others to explore new experiences - new ways of thinking and living.  The action of living beyond war is building relationships and telling our stories.  Once citizens demonstrate intelligent, successful, undeniable models of living, governments will then be confident to legislate and institutionalize what the people prove to work. 


"Change doesn't come from Washington.

Change comes to Washington."

        - Barack Obama