PEACE: AN ACTIVE SKILL; Elise Boulding, teacher and peace advocate
Albert Einstein once remarked that the atom transformed everything about modern life except our thinking.m Nowhere is his observation borne out more soberly than in the area of nuclear-war capability. Peace is no longer an alternative to war, it is an imperative for survival. The rhetoric of peace has been with us for a thousand generations; the blueprints for peace are harder to find. Though the abstractions are unavoidable in discussing untried areas, this is far from an indication that there are no positive steps available to us, no avenues for moving forward. Among the vanguard of decisive and active thinkers on the subject of peace is Elise Boulding. At present a member of the federal commission to establish a national peace academy, Mrs. Boulding is also a member of the United Nations Center for Disarmament, a director of the Institute for World Order, and past chairwoman of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She is also the author of "The Underside of History: a view of women through time" and, with her husband, economist Kenneth Boulding, "Women in the 20th-Century World."m
Mrs. Boulding is at present head of the Department of Sociology at Dartmouth College. Henrietta Buckmaster, editor of the Home Forum, interviewed her immediately after her return from Japan, where she, as a member, had attended a meeting of the Governing Council of the United Nations University, with headquarters in Tokyo.m
The first half of this interview appeared on yesterday's Home Forum page.m
Since the days of the great indian emperor Asoka, who banished war as a policy, alternatives have been acknowledged. You're at the center of much that is happening in the development of peace skills. What is happening?
Here are three different things that are happening right now. The Costa Rica Peace University, proposed by Costa Rica, has been approved by the United Nations. Incidentally, Costa Rica disbanded its army 35 years ago. I will be going to Costa Rica next June to talk about the curriculum for that Peace University. In 1974 the United Nations University, with headquarters in Tokyo, began operation. This university is not primarily a teaching university. It is a set of research institutes that deal with major world problems as defined by the UN. It is unique in that it represents, on behalf of the United Nations, world academia turning its attention to the major problems of hunger, the use of natural resources, human and social development from the perspective of world interest, not national interest. And it must bring to bear the civilized traditions, the intellectual paradigms, The scientific knowledge, that have originated in every part of the world. This means exploring traditional folk knowledge that has come down through the centuries -- Indian and Chinese traditions in medicine, for example -- along with the contemporary laboratory-based science and technology, the application of Marxist and capitalist views of development and the use of world resources, Buddhist and Hindu and Islamic conceptions of human development, all the approaches to end hunger and provide proper distribution. It's a university committed to the world's problems, using the best of the world's resources. It's a major task. When I went to Tokyo last week for the council meeting of the UN University I stayed on for three extra days, working with the vice-rector to set up a program in peace and disarmament. It's taken almost a decade to get this under way, but if you've got the world setting many different priorities, you have to have patience. Any project we undertake must draw on the perspectives and ideologies of the new international economic order. Let me stress -- none of this is at the rhetorical level. These projects are all seen as problem solvers. And finally there is hope of a Peace Academy in the United States. I'm a member of a nine-person commission to bring proposals to congress for the establishment of the Academy of Peace and Conflict resolution. Right now I am reading the first draft of our report, which will go to congress in January. It's based on extensive discussions all around the country, with constituencies ranging from our military academies and our For eign Service institutes to the greatest variety of ordinary people. The stress is on the enormous need for the proper skills for analyzing problems in such a way that alternatives become evident. We have hundreds of examples of these skills. Just one of them, for instance --mestic violence. When the police get the proper training, the loss of life goes way down. To have a central academy which will both do the research and offer the training, the analysis, and make the body of knowledge available means we've taken tremendous steps toward a developed society. Such a society knows and uses conflict resolutions and peacemaking skills.
There's no question that the principles on which the United States was founded must be nurtured and defended. But what if the essence of democracy is being eroded from the inside by poverty, discrimination, materialism, spiritual hunger, while we are overly concerned with external threats?
When the Peace Academy commission was holding hearings around the country -- to find out what people felt about the need for such a place -- we were very struck by the extent to which minority peoples, Chicanos and blacks, welfare mothers, were making the connection between the incapacity of the United States to deal with problems of violence and injustice in their own communities and its attitude in dealing with the outside world. They'd say if the United States can't handle violence and injustice and poverty in Atlanta, how is it going to handle it in the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq? It was clear to them that our own best ideals have to be cultivated first in our own local institutions.
Will there be no peace academy as there is one military academy and one naval and one air force academy?
Our concept is of one central academy located perhaps within a 200-mile distance from Washington with a sophisticated research facility -- a sort of coordinating communications clearinghouse -- and then regional academies.
Who will fund it?
We're proposing that it be funded partially by the federal government and partially by private concerns and foundations.
Who will be accepted for training -- and trained for what sorts of careers?
There will be midcareer training for people in business and diplomacy and in all the areas where these skills are really needed. Young people will also be brought in who will make this their career. It'll cost nothing, compared with our military weaponry. But it'll be cost effective, because it's much cheaper to use the skills of conflict resolution than to use weaponry. And the military academies themselves say they feel that our country draws far too quickly on its armed forces -- that armed forces should be held in reserve for the absolutely unsolvable situations where all human ingenuity has failed. But what happens, they say, is that they're called first instead of last. "When we are called in, " one officer said, "the United States has failed." Resorting to military solutions represents a failure. Many of us who are in this field feel that this search for alternatives is a deep longing in our country, but that we've gotten trapped in pathologies and don't realize that alternatives are at hand. So fi we can get a symbolic commitment to alternatives, this might be enough to turn us about the get people thinking, "There are fresh ways. We don't need to give up."
How will or should the peace academy's work filter out or down to the citizenry, to those who will approach peace in all its aspects, at a community level?
One of the reasons we're advocating regional academies is a desire to have the closest links to the skills within any given area. The regional centers are seen as belonging to regions -- Southwest, Northeast and so on -- because they would then be able to utilize the indigenous skills. The commission is very admiring of the way the Land-Grant College Act used its extension techniques. specialists go into the field and work with all sorts of groups. They get people to define their problems, and offer good pragmatic suggestions. We feel this model, somewhat adapted, is exactly what we will need and use.Remember, the movements of thought are manifested through people. It's possible that arms limitation might today have reached a far more advanced state had more individuals involved themselves in actions supporting it.
Einstein said, "peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." Do you think all the education in the world can ever achieve understanding unless there is a willingness of heart and mind?
Readinessm to learn is a part of all true learning. True learning doesn't exist without it -- without making vivid connections with our experiences and hopes.
Sadat made a very bold move three years ago for peace, but he found that goodwill wasn't enough. something active had to follow.
That is certainly true. Good intentions have to be linked to skills. And they have to be linked to taking account of all the elements of a situation -- and all the actions -- but one person can indeed initiate a process that can have a very crucial outcome.
Do you feel we may have to redefine "nation" if we're going to talk in terms of planetary peace?
National sovereignty, in its traditional sense, ended on the day bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
May we talk for a moment about a special dilemma? We both recognize the immense need for developing the mental skills for peace -- for trust, and love, and intelligence, and understanding of other points of view, and willingness to look at our own shortcomings as well as of other. and injuring no man. this would bring us closer to peace, of course, but wouldn't it also be touching somehting profoundly frightening to many -- the fear of giving in, of losing, of compromising, of not being able to keep an ace in the hole? There's rather nasty little quote: "The Lord is our shepherd, says the psalm, but just to play it safe, better get the bomb."
There is no security for human beings except the ultimate security of knowing we're a part of creation. And the very concept of life, the living of mind, matter, spirit, implies the concept of vulnerability. But this can change. True maturity involves understanding this, and realizing that the same process of continual change and openness and growth is what makes us human and brings all kinds of fulfillment and new development. We should welcome the insecurity if it opens the way for growth. It is immature to say we don't want growth -- to say we'll just pretendm there's a condition known as security, "let's shut the door and protect ourselves." But the very process of human life is vulnerability , change and growth. And only by acknowledging this can we have a planetary society that represents the potential of all human beings.
Is there a chance we might see some of this acted upon in our lifetime?
We already have many examples of neighboring behavior. People, communities, nations, can become just as committed to this principle as they are to the negative one that says we must see our neighbor as a threat and guard against him.
What chance is there that moral and spiritual commitments will catch up with our enormous progress in the technological and intellectual field?
One has to be an optimist. The technological era has developed the human imagination tremendously, but has drastically narrowed our sight as far as human development is concerned. But this can change. Only by broadening our understanding of development is there any possibility of intellectual growth in these areas. Existential fear will not be enough for us as human beings. and yet, in an industrial society, we've increasingly defined life as a negative thing: the more there is for me the less there is for you: the more there is for you: the less there is for me. This raises a moral issue: if you really feel there isn't enough for all, then think of what you have, at the expense of others. However, another way of looking at life is as a postive-sum game, which means that there can be more for y ou andm more for me, for the whole concept of development at its best is the development of our physical and mental and spiritual resources in such a way that we are all enhanced -- all fed better in both the pysical and spiritual sensE. But this also shows how often we look at our problems as a game and how many of our metaphors in the 20th century are metaphors of manipulation. Yet life is neither a game nor a strategy. To learn to have confidence in the growth process and to be more aware of our nature as living beings, and what the growth potentials are for us human beings -- and to free ourselves of mechanistic metaphors that encourage us to manipulate such growth -- is one of the most urgent things we must do.
What is peace?
It's a process. It's not an externalized condition. It's a way of being. But it's also a responsiveness to our own condition and the condition of others, a continual openness and listening and readiness for adaptation, for social inventions. Most of all it involves the capacity to image the future condition of a good society -- a condition in which people are living together in peace. Peace isn't just a personal thing or a momnet-by-moment adaptation -- it's the sense of developing over time so that one's behavior in the present brings about a condition of sharing and justice and mutual enhancement of human welfare in the future.
We've covered a lot of ground, but is there something more you'd like to say?
Something has been very much on my mind since I came back from Hiroshima three days ago, and that is, how very little we undertand what we did when we dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the last week, I've been watching the Japanese struggle with their role in the society of the future and with their strong sense of the United States' pressure on them to rearm. The very country that gave them their peace constitution and said they could never again resort to arms to defend themselves is now pressing them to rearm. The Japanese are divided between the feeling that they should do what the United States asks and their profound rejection -- which is very real in Japanese society -- of their own militaristic past. They know that there are still militaristic elements in Japan who would love to take over again. We could create a monster Japan. And that is what our government seems to be trying to do. It appears to have no understanding of that military tradition which has been rejected by the Japanese themselves.
Japan is trying to discover its own image of an unarmed nation -- developing the skills of peacemaking and of a new and more abundant society made possible by skillm and not by force. The Japanese are struggling to affirm that image and make it a politically viable one. This is an acid test. I wish there were some way to activate the imagination of the American people so they would understand what Japan went through -- and what the Soviet Union went through in World War II when all its European land was overrun by the Nazis, and Poland subsequently became a buffer. Then we could unscramble the Polish crisis. Poland is trying, by nonviolent skills, to free something within its own country -- what is happening is a nonviolent experiment. If we could only learn from those efforts -- in Japan, Poland -- encourage nonviolent development, see the possibilities, we might come to realize that the use of force does not achieve any of our goals.