By Andreas Toupadakis, PhD
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
Taking the Peace Movement from the Classes to the Masses
“Disobedience to be civil must be sincere, respectful, restrained, must be based upon some well-understood principle, must not be capricious and, above all, must have no ill will or hatred behind it.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
During a successful career in industrial and classified-government positions, I quit my role maintaining nuclear weaponry, realizing that government scientific programs are only interested in developing systems of war, not peace.
After I resigned, naturally I found myself in the activities of the world peace movement. During one of these early activities in the United States, someone came to me and asked me, “Do you plan to be arrested today?” For a moment I was lost, and I did not know what to answer. I thought being arrested for speaking out about what I believed was a possibility, but I thought it would be quite remote if not impossible. “No”, I answered in confusion.
Soon after, I realized that the peace group had instructed its members about what to do during “planned-arrests”, as they are called. I realized that even the different authorities, police, administration, etc. had been notified days before about the intention of some to be arrested. I was there watching the whole procedure during the arrests, but I did not know what to make out of it. I was simply confused. After a few hours the “arrested” were back with the group, happy and telling their stories.
The time went by and during other activities, I again was asked the same question, “Will you be arrested today?” Some of those asking me happened to be friends close to my heart and not being able to understand them, I felt uncomfortable. During the same period that all these activities were taking place, I had been enjoying reading about Gandhi’s activities in South Africa. I was new in the peace movement and I wanted to know the truth about the new world I found myself in by just doing the common sense thing, simply resigning from a job that was preparing unspeakable agony and death for humanity. I read that many times Gandhi and his followers did invoke arrest, but interestingly enough, I read that many times when released they commented, “We were disappointed upon our release.” And this they said when victory had not been achieved. I continued reading about Gandhi’s efforts for the rights of Indians in South Africa and in India. Here are some statements I read which made me think a lot about the state of the peace movement today.
“I can boldly declare and with certainty that so long as there is even a handful of men true to their pledge, there can be only one end to the struggle – and that is victory.” And this he said because he knew that soul force did not depend on numbers but on the degree of firmness. He said, “The real road to happiness lies in going to jail and undergoing suffering and privations there in the interest of one’s country and religion.”
At one time he asked his followers, “Are you prepared to share the fate of those of our countrymen whom the cold stone is resting upon today?” And when the people answered “yes” he continued, “I hope that every man, woman, and grown-up child will not consider their salaries, trades, or even families, or their own bodies.” He then went on to explain to them that civil resisters hope to convince the brain and conquer the heart by self-suffering and sincerity without hurting, humbling, or embittering their adversary.
At the same time that these planned-arrests here in the US were taking place around the country during different peace demonstrations, hundreds of people from around the world were jailed, violently beaten and even prosecuted for murder charges in Genoa. The first death of an anti-globalization demonstrator in history was also recorded. In my mind, I was trying to put into perspective the importance of the abolition of war in the nuclear age, the Genoa and other heroic struggles against the global empire of capital, the climate problem, and the direction of the peace movement today.
There are shiny examples of individuals acting as soldiers of peace within the peace movement. But collectively, as a movement, we need to re-evaluate the methods we use and the firmness we carry. To finally accept the cost in our hearts, we need to pay for the abolition of all weapons, whether of mass destruction or conventional, to finally abolish war itself before war abolishes us.
For some people today, perhaps more in the West, it has become difficult to understand the difference between non-violence and cowardice, and the difference between violence and uncompromised spoken truth. In other words, while many are practicing cowardice they believe they are practicing nonviolence. And when people speak truth without compromise, they are labeled as violent and subversive.
We need to realize that passive resistance is not the same as active non-violent resistance. The former is of the weak; the latter is of the strong.
It is interesting that people have more or less confused the two. For this reason Gandhi said to his followers that “where there is a choice between cowardice and violence, I would choose violence.”
The struggle for world peace is not easy. Non-violent resistance requires much more courage than violence. In violence there is always the seed of fear, and in cowardice there is always the seed of violence. Non-violent resistance requires strength and courage.
There are many activists who have found that out, and who they feel discouraged and exhausted. They feel that their efforts have not gained the momentum they had hoped, and they know without any doubt that the “doomsday” they are trying to prevent is potentially ten minutes away.
Any sincere soldier of peace today knows that we as humanity have severely limited chances for survival, on our current path. Many seriously wonder if we have even passed a turning point. These feelings rise in our hearts when we make a small effort to talk to everyday citizens, and inform them of what we know about empire, and the peace movement. Most of the time they will look as if they are listening to a fairy tail, or they will change the discussion, or they will simply walk away.
How can this change? When we talk to them about other issues like pollution, or cancer, or taxes, they will listen. Why? Because these topics to them are real; they have heard about them over and over again. They have been educated about them since a young age. I wonder if there is still time for universal education about the urgent need to abolish war, and the means with which peace can be achieved. Such education has not happened now for so many years, as a culture of war has been accepted and embedded in our society. What makes us think it will happen before a global catastrophe unfolds in front of our eyes?
Certainly the governments are not contemplating the abolishment of war. They have plans to make more war. Some of them even plan to make nuclear war under certain circumstances. Our friends and relatives are trained to push the button, even the nuclear button. That is a fact. And the governments feel that it is to their advantage to protect their positions, and they do not hesitate to plan and use war to do so. Governments are not inspired to support peace education. Therefore, it has to be done with extremely few resources, preferably worldwide, and it must be done now.
That sounds like a huge task. Any down-to-earth person knows it is almost impossible for this to happen. But of course, if the peace movements in those most powerful countries do achieve the abolition of war (and policies of war), then the less influential nations will follow.
Comfort and Complacency
What is the problem with that? The problem is that the stronger the nation, the greater the obstacles to bringing peace education to its schools. Why? It is obvious that the nation has become strong not by compassion towards other nations, but by using war as the tool to achieve domination over the weaker. It wants to maintain its colonies to extract their resources, using their people as free slaves. Would the government of such a nation be willing to adopt a foreign policy of no war?
But that is not the only obstacle. The greatest obstacle comes from its own people. If the people are willing to pay the cost, they will have what their soul is thirsty for. It is well known that victory is for those who are ready to pay the price. But the people of a rich country, and also its peace movements, are used to comfort and security, and it is not easy for them to sacrifice their jobs, salaries, houses, boats, stocks, and health insurance. How much more if you ask them to stay in jail indefinitely or even to die!
Nevertheless, we know that without birth-pains, there is no birth.
In 1921, Einstein speaking on his first impressions of the U.S.A. described a state of affairs that is identical or perhaps even worse today. He said during an interview for Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant:
“The United States is the most powerful among the technically advanced countries in the world today. Its influence on the shaping of international relations is absolutely incalculable. But America is a large country and its people have so far not shown much interest in great international problems, among which the problem of disarmament occupies first place today. This must be changed, if only America’s own interest. The last war has shown that there are no longer any barriers between the continents and that the destinies of all countries are closely interwoven. The people of this country must realize that they have a great responsibility in the sphere of international politics. The part of passive spectator is unworthy of this country and is bound in the end to lead to disaster all round.”
Is it not because the United States is the country of plenty? When time is running out and the well-fed are not capable of pressing hard for peace because of their comfort, and on the other hand, the underfed of the world are not capable of doing so either because of their discomfort, what should we do? When you talk to someone who is dying of hunger about nuclear weapons, you will hear this: “I wished it had happened yesterday.”
We ask again, “What should we do?” Should we write more proposals and submit them to foundations to receive financial help for peace activities? Should we continue with more planned arrests? Should we increase our trips to different countries to talk to politicians and give lectures about peace? Should we have more frequent peace meetings in New York at the United Nations on peace? Should we try to increase the membership of our peace groups? Should we try to write more articles in the press and speak on television?
All these activities are good, but are they enough to bring the change? If we were only honest with ourselves, we would know that all these actions alone, no matter their intensity, will never be able to bring an end to the threat of annihilation. Change comes only after war — a non-violent war against violent governments that move from violence to violence on order to defend their interests. This kind of non-violent war brings a permanent change, in contrast to a violent war that brings “peace” only temporarily, generally in the form of “security”.
Why are we waiting? What are we waiting for? If we did not have the blue prints for how to see victory, then there would be some excuse, but we do have them. Why have we then been satisfied all these decades with lectures and speeches when we know that we are potentially ten minutes away from universal catastrophe? When will the non-violent conscience of humanity declare its own war of resistance against the violent elements of humanity?
On December 14, 1930 Einstein extemporaneously delivered a speech at a meeting in New York’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, under the auspices of the New History Society. Among other things he said:
“When those who are bound together by pacifist ideals hold a meeting they are usually consorting only with their own kind. They are like sheep huddled together while wolves wait outside. I believe that pacifist speakers face this difficulty: they ordinarily reach only their own group, people who are pacifists anyhow and hardly need to be convinced. The sheep’s voice does not reach beyond this circle and is, therefore, ineffectual. That is the real weakness of the pacifist movement… Deeds, not words, are needed; mere words get pacifists nowhere. They must initiate action and begin with what can be achieved now… The aim of all pacifists must be to convince others of the immorality of war and rid the world of the shameful slavery of military service.”
For decades, the peace movement has been in labor pains, trying to give birth to permanent world peace. Through these pains, several important outcomes have been accomplished, some of which are:
(1) The illegality of nuclear weapons. In 1996, the World Court voted that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegal.
(2) The Non-proliferation Treaty. In this treaty, all NATO members are signatories and require all states to move quickly to abolish nuclear weapons.
Nevertheless, not only have we not yet seen the abolition of nuclear weapons, but ironically, NATO’s official military doctrine, with our tax money’s blessing, reserves for itself the right to use nuclear weapons. Why?
The peace movement desires to see our scientists and engineers give up their work on weapons. How does the peace movement plan to encourage them? Are the established pledges by some peace groups for no work on the war machine enough? In 1930 Einstein spoke on behalf of war resisters and said:
“I suggest that pacifists of all countries start raising funds to support those who would want to refuse military service but who cannot actually do so for lack of financial means. I, therefore, advocate the establishment of an international organization and an international pacifist fund to support the active war resisters of our day.”
He did not only suggest this idea for war resisters, but also for German scientists in order to help them leave from Germany so that they would not serve in Hitler’s military preparations. Promoting and signing pledges is education, and it is an excellent step towards the goal, but it is only theory. To organize and finance the campaign for the establishment of a “Help Scientists and Engineers Fund” is practice. We will see scientists give up their war-science when we practice our theories; when we perform the experiment, we will see the result. Most scientists are incapable of the sacrifice of non-cooperation with the war machine. But our own sacrifices in a measure proportional to our abilities will induce their sacrifices and give birth to victory. Even if they temporarily differ from our ideas about best how to bring peace, they will look upon us as colleagues of high ideals and of noble life, and they will be reformed.
If we had really understood the peril we are in, then all of us who claim to be knowledgeable of it would constantly be on peace walks instead of primarily giving proposals and lectures on peace in closed rooms. We would be on the streets walking in silence and mourning. We would not pay our taxes for making weapons of mass destruction. Is there an easier way so the world could take notice? There is no need for any resources except the will of the brave.
The Will of the Brave
Word of mouth is the best medium of information, and will always be. If an act which truly uplifts humanity is done, it will circle the globe even without the participation of mainstream media. The media is not the problem; it is our fears and our clinging to security and comforts. Let us work our ideas out, not just think them out. Henry David Thoreau said it all: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
How does this sound? Reported in San Juan, Puerto Rico (Reuters, 2000): “A U.S. magistrate on Tuesday sentenced the mayor Damaso Serrano of the disputed Puerto Rican island of Vieques to four months in prison for trespassing on restricted land during protests against U.S. Navy war games.” Serrano said before being sentenced that he was standing trial “because of the right of my people to be free.” This is action and it is a non-violent war on an unjust and violent government.
Will the leaders of the world peace movement take the responsibility in leading the people into action before the unthinkable takes place? We also read that Actor Edward James Olmos, environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and New York labor leader Dennis Rivera were among others sentenced to jail time for Vieques protest activities. They were protesting in order for the USA government to stop war games at the island of Vieques.
Does anyone really believe that weapons of mass destruction will be abolished only by speeches and proposals and by talking to the politicians?
Any honest human being knows that it will take a lot of sacrifices, a lot of pain to avert the unthinkable. The prisons will have to be filled with millions of people, and that would not be enough. Are we ready to pay the cost so that our children and the future generations can live? I would say that if anyone has to put his or her life down, it must be us not them. They did not produce this death; we did. It would be wise for us to take care of the hell we created out of our greed and fear for survival, before our children look at us straight in the eyes and ask us why we have done it. And they will, particularly if there is a local nuclear war before a global one takes place.
Let us throw our masks away. It is time to look at what we have given our children to live with all their lives. It is time to tell our children the TRUTH. It is time to destroy our hypocrisy and the rotten philosophy of deterrence, which says that “you can have peace by preparing for war”. Only unhealthy and corrupted minds could ever have put such words in our hands and minds. Will the people of the world allow themselves to be destroyed because of these minds? What will the lovers of this world do when the alarm goes off? What will they say, if anyone is left? “Nuremberg trials” will have no meaning at this time.
What is required is organized activity. When someone with courage and vision arises to lead the soldiers of peace in non-violent action, the anguish and despair of the peace movement will at once be turned into joy. What has today become a hopeless and lifeless campaign will be turned into an active and determined stand presented to a fearful and dehumanized world. They will serve the world and prove their title as members of the peace movement, while scoring a lasting victory over the conscienceless decision-makers of our days.
What kind of leaders are we searching for today? That is the question that the citizens of every country must answer for themselves. The answer to this question today will determine the fate of our world tomorrow. Paraphrasing Einstein’s words while speaking on Mahatma Gandhi, we should be searching for leaders unsupported by any outward authorities. Politicians whose success will rest not upon craft, nor the mastery of technical devices, but simply on the convincing power of their personality; influential thinkers who will scorn the use of force. Individuals of wisdom and humility armed with resolve and inflexible consistency, who will be willing to devote all their strength to the uplifting of their people and the betterment of their lot. Individuals who would confront without fear the brutality of war with the dignity of the simple human being, and thus at all times rise superior.
When a universal catastrophe is ten minutes away, our leaders must be independent of the moods, opinions and criticism of others. Mr. Boris Yeltsin wrote in his memoirs regarding his relationship with Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev, “the motivations for many of my actions were embedded in our conflict.” We know that this is taking place within the American government and within every other government of the world. Should our world be burned forever because it happened that two world leaders hated each other, and could not overcome their personal conflict?
Many times within the peace movement, people come with a great vigor to change the status quo, but the elite of the peace movement interfere, tying the new activist’s hands and feet to conform to the current (often ineffective) agenda of the movement. Many times new activists, usually of a young age, embrace faith, poverty, and truth, and as a result become fearless and full of wisdom and compassion for others. In such cases, the new activist should stay independent and not allow anyone to dictate direction. Direction should be seriously considered only from those who have also embraced such ideals.
There are a number of people in the peace movement who have embraced such ideals to the full. These beautiful souls live only in order to serve others by thought, word, and action.
Three Islands: Thought, Word, and Action
In the peace movement there are three islands; the Island of Thought, the Island of Word, and the Island of Action. The Island of Word is the most populated one and the Island of Action the least populated. Lovers of humanity all start from the Island of Thought and as their desire grows for serving others, they move onto the Island of Word, and finally, some move onto the Island of Action.
The trip from the Island of Thought to the Island of Word involves some treacherous waters. Nevertheless servants make the trip because of their love for others. Several people make this trip because the trip can be done in a boat and they can carry all their belongings with them — but not so with the trip to the Island of Action. They cannot bring any of their belongings from the Island of Word to the Island of Action because they can reach it only by swimming in waters, which are very cold. Even though servants smell the fragrance coming from the neighboring Island of Action, they cannot actually see what is on it unless they land on it. For these reasons, only a few of the servants of peace decide to swim to and live on the island of the greatest beauty: the Island of Action.
The citizens of these three islands are all servants of humanity in their own way because they have set their hearts to serve others. There are many who are talking, and we need the talkers as much as we need the doers. We arrive at action after we have finished talking, like we arrive at word after we have finished thinking. But there are only a few servants who decide to travel the distance to the third island. When we see doers, we must hold them as models and strive to follow their example.
The citizens of the Island of Action always encourage the citizens of the other two islands to migrate to their own island.
The citizens of the Island of Word always encourage the citizens of the Island of Thought to migrate to their island, and they are never afraid that their island will become overpopulated. Since they have never been on the Island of Action they cannot encourage anyone to migrate to it. The best they can do is never discourage anyone from their island from migrating to the Island of Action.
The citizens of the Island of Thought, since they have never been on the other two islands, cannot encourage anyone to migrate to them. The best they can do is never discourage anyone from their island from migrating to the other two islands.
Obstacles to the Peace Movement
Lack of physical resources
Besides the most important foundational resource, which is the indomitable will of its people, a movement uses physical resources such as services, products, or money to achieve its aims. A weak movement begs for these resources before it acts. It always aims for large memberships and calculates as though it is a part of the corporate world: “If we have this much money, then we can do this.” But a strong movement acts on faith no matter how small and insignificant the first-step act seems to be at the beginning. They act with minimal resources, save for an indomitable will. And if the work is sincere, then the gates of resources will surely open – as Gandhi’s work (and many others) has demonstrated.
Attachment to the Corporate world methods for change
Looking around us, we see people rushing in everything, even while they worship their time and labor saving devices. Should this be the case within the peace movement?
Peace can come to the world not by working for it, but by being peaceful ourselves. We need to remind ourselves of this constantly. When we take time to share our humanity – our vision, our hopes, our doubts, with one another we give the opportunity to ourselves to become all that we can be.
Fear of Social Marginalization
Speaking truth to power can result in part time employment, early retirement, not living in the “gated community” anymore, and more. There are those in the peace movement that speak truth without fear and those that count every word so that they will not be marginalized. This state of affairs needs to be changed. Fear of social marginalization is a strong force keeping people from making the right decisions and saying the needed words within the peace movement.
The Solution: From the Classes to the Masses
The peace movement will see the success it desires when it will take its message from the classes to the masses. Since we know that we most likely do not have much time left to avoid further war and destruction, the peace movement should ask the question: What kind of fire spreads faster, the mind-fire or the soul-fire?
What is mind-fire? Anything from great speeches to writing proposals, from begging the politicians to “prayers” to governors, from paper contributions to classroom education to local demonstrations. All these actions shake the mind but not the heart. No amount of speeches will make us see world peace; it is only our conduct.
The peace movement needs to turn to the poor, and to the masses, because the rich servants of the scientific establishment, the government, the church, and the stock market – people with comfort and power – cannot and will not secure peace.
What is Soul-Fire? It is inner freedom, a psychological metamorphosis, which comes from an inner revolution of the heart. When the people become uplifted, see their worth and discover their true identities, they will take back their individual dignity and demand a life for themselves and for their children, free from the looming threat of war and annihilation. They will see then that the governments cannot hold them in nuclear bondage anymore.
All protests against nuclear weapons since the time of their construction have been ignored. Peace activists count for nothing in the eyes of the governments, and peace leaders are ignored. What to do? “Last night the idea came to me in a dream that we should call on the country to observe a general strike” — that was the suggestion by Gandhi for obtaining civil rights in India. He was suggesting suspending all economic activity to bring the people into action. I can hear many people protest from within the comfortable corners of the peace movement; “That is too radical”, they will say. But they should ask themselves how radical it is to see our whole world being brought into chaos, death and unspeakable agony — which nuclear weapons can achieve in a matter of ten minutes. Our world would be no more. How radical is that? The question is not therefore if that is what has to be done, but how it will be done.
Even the most intelligent leaders of the peace movement are unfortunately missing the point. They try to rationalize with the members of Congress, Senators and other political figures. They are sending essays and appeals to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They hope that by using rational arguments they will be heard. But, as history has proven, they are wasting their time. And time is running short. We must take our message from the classes to the masses.
Bevin Chu, an American of Chinese descent, speaking on the demonization of China by China Threat Theorists, prompts us to recall ‘Aesop’s Fable in which the wolf unreasonably accuses a lamb of muddying his drinking water. When the lamb protests, “But I’m drinking downstream from you”, the wolf promptly devours him. The wolf was never the slightest bit concerned with facts, logic, fair play, or “rights”. The wolf merely needed the flimsiest of pretexts to do what he fully intended to do all along, prey on the weak. Clearly the strong governments are keeping their weapons of mass destruction, in spite of international agreements, in order to be able to prey on the weak.
History has taught us that widespread important social changes, which would affect the wallet of the rich to a great extent, never take place by applying logic. They take war. Some advocate violent war, and the only thing they bring is the same regime but with a different name – a regime of exploitation of the weak. We must start a non-violent war against legal terrorism, consumerism, and the exploitation and dehumanization of the people of the earth.
The leaders of the peace movement must finally decide to cross the line into the uncomfortable state of affairs, that is, we need to take the people of the world onto the streets at all costs. We need them to understand that, unless they sacrifice their current conveniences and security, they may soon envy the dead soon. The leaders of the peace movement need to convince the citizens first of the eminent danger they face so that the citizens can take their fate into their own hands; then the politicians will hear what they need to hear from the citizens. They will hear and see that we are ready to go to jail, to suffer all kinds of troubles, in order that our governments destroy the war machine before it destroys us.
Only the soul-force of voluntary sacrifice will abolish weapons of mass destruction. No other method will abolish them; it is time to come out of our cocoons if we want to save our world and see our children have a future. We must swim to the Island of Action.
A Global Civil Disobedience Campaign?
In regard to the abolition of weapons of mass destruction, so far, we are doing a good job of describing and whining about this evil and that evil. Most published books are descriptions of evil, destruction, and death, or an analysis of why it happened and who did it. Seldom do we see a book that gives us a vision for the future and the steps for how to accomplish it. Rather, scientists at well-known institutions are using statistical methods and high level mathematics to prove how probable it is that we will all die tomorrow. They invent new terminology as they invent new technology (‘Nuclear Winter’ is a term unheard of before 1945.) They perform billion-dollar experiments to find out how we will be incinerated tomorrow. They publish their results, thus obtaining tenure by describing the power of evil.
And what do many active members in the peace movement do? They obtain grants from this and that institution to write more books, to give more speeches, to travel around the world describing what the university professors found out and reported and what the experiments revealed and what the rogue government is doing. Many of them in this way build a career supported by government grants, humanitarian institutions, and membership fees, a career which they feel they need to protect. In this way, they become ineffective towards their original vision for world peace. Too often we even see a leader from a peace-focused NGO move into a government position.
The time has come for all peace groups to initiate a global civil disobedience campaign. Will they take the challenge and see it is their duty? Or will they continue to sit in comfortable chairs writing hundreds of proposals and speeches, exchanging honors and medals while the governmental finger remains poised on the button? Why should people continue to pay taxes that help build their own graves? Why should they continue to pay taxes for the high salaries of scientists and engineers who continue to develop horror in the great name of science?
In order to achieve self-governance, the Indians in Gandhi’s time were imprisoned by the thousands, rich attorneys quit the British courts forever, university students left their classrooms, teachers and students went to the villages to teach civil non-cooperation. And this was done in order to achieve self-government.
What then should we do today in order to save our world from annihilation? Do we believe it will take less sacrifice? When will we see the urgency of the immediate action? Should we wait to see millions being turned into ashes, like in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and millions more dying in agony first in order to see the peril before us?
The answer is that the world needs a peace-nucleus, a small non-violent group of people willing to accept any degree of possible suffering, even willing to die for world peace. Then the world will take notice. The movement will spread. Perhaps the prisons will overflow but the message will be brought to those who have not heard it. We will realize that our own governments, who have proven themselves to be the most ruthless terrorists in recent human history, have put us ten minutes away from global catastrophe legally and with our own sweat and tears, with our own taxes. How can this peace leaven be made? Where will its headquarters be? When will it act?
The Makings of Non-Violent War
Our youth today open their dictionary and they read that war is the absence of peace.
Peace (noun): a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended.
But they know and we know that peace is more than the absence of war. They know this well by just looking at what is happening at their schools. They read on the dollar bills that we trust in God, but they know that their parents are paying taxes to build weapons of terror. We teach them that in order to survive they must carry two faces, one for themselves and a second one for the world. How can we promote peaceful living within such a contradiction? Our youth carry within themselves the nature for peace, but we take it away from them, piece by piece every day.
Fighting a non-violent war requires courage and faith, just like a violent war does. Courage and faith in order to fight a non-violent war becomes part of people’s soul only after strenuous inner training. In every culture around the world, the seeds for inner training have existed for thousands of years. It is these seeds that need to be watered and nourished in order to see the peace leaven spread over the face of the earth.
In times of systemic war, world peace can only be realized by personal sacrifice and suffering. Again and again, I have heard from many in the peace movement that it can be done without suffering. But these people live in illusion. Not only do they live in illusion, but they also practice hypocrisy. There are millions of ordinary people around the world living on the Island of Action. They never speak publicly on world peace, nor are they members of peace organizations, but they are the real peacemakers. They are people who have made peace with others and their physical environment, mostly unnoticed, living in silence, never in a hurry, waiting for the trumpet to gather them for action. They are never in a hurry to do things and more things, because they know change takes time. They are not spending their days to figure out what to do for world peace; instead they spend their time figuring out what to be. They know that if they take care of the question “What should I be?” the question “What should I do?” has already been answered. And they act upon it. These people – from every nation – constitute the global peace leaven. And as the threat of further war and destruction looms closer, they will come together in order to shape a new direction for those who will be willing to pay the price for serving the truth.
The Wisdom of Gandhi
How did these people reach the shores of wisdom? What kind of discipline were they willing to take? What did they have to give up in order to realize that the sacrifice of self is infinitely superior to the sacrifice of others, that service to others is infinitely superior to service of self?
Gandhi once said that “chastity is one of the greatest disciplines without which the mind cannot attain requisite firmness.” (‘Chastity’, meaning: uncorrupted, virtuous). He said that “someone who is unchaste loses stamina, becomes cowardly. He whose mind is given over to animal passions is not capable of any great effort.” Choosing such a path brings a lot of questions, but those who wish to take part in a great work are bound to solve these puzzles.
Should a non-violent resister care about money? Can profit ambition and non-violent resistance go together?
Gandhi again said that “Those who have money are not expected to throw it away, but they are expected to be indifferent about it. They must be prepared to lose every penny rather than give up non-violent resistance.”
Should a non-violent resister lie sometimes if necessary, for example to save his life, or does truth have to be followed at any cost?
A real non-violent resister follows the truth at any cost. And because of that he is fearless; his very glance withers the opponent. Non-violent civil disobedience cannot proceed without fearlessness. Gandhi again advises us that “those alone can follow the path of non-violent resistance who are free from fear, whether as to their possessions, false honor, their relatives, the government, bodily injuries or death.”
If there is any hope for the future, it is embedded in a fearless global non-violent revolution — a war without violence, started by the masses, not the classes.
World Peace and the Anti-Globalization Campaign
“The time has come, or is about to come, when only large-scale civil disobedience, which should be non-violent, can save the populations from the universal death which their governments are preparing for them.” ~ Bertrand Russell
Since 1945, at least 25 million people have been killed in over 100 conflicts. In modern warfare 95% of casualties are ordinary civilians; innocent men, women and children, not the leaders who instigate war.
So, we need to ask the question, “Why do our leaders live in fear for their lives? Why do they hide behind steel and high technology glass, behind institutional power and manipulation?”
It is generally accepted that only dictators seize power without the will of the people. But we know that today even the leaders we call democratic hold power that has not been given to them by the people, but has been taken away from the people in very insidious ways. They inevitably live in fear. In order to protect their power, they impose harder and harsher controls. People, in turn, become more fearful and therefore violent, which brings even harder controls. Finally the situation escalates beyond control, and the people rebel.
In our modern days, this is taking place in front of our eyes but in such a way that we do not see it. Unless power seized by the giant economic organizations is given back to the people, people will rebel and they will rebel soon. This rebellion would be very dangerous when weapons of mass destruction are pointed at each other by all sides. The duty of governments today is to transfer this stolen power back to the people from the hands of the G7 and any other group of power. It is therefore also the duty of the peace movement to advocate this power transfer and provide methods and action for it to happen.
We must organize a global civil disobedience. Yes, organize a global civil disobedience! We must strengthen the link between the campaign for peace and the anti-globalization campaign. We must create nuclear weapon AND nuclear energy-free zones (the two programs are inextricably linked, and equally dangerous). We must strengthen the use of the World Court. We must mobilize within universities against the Academic Military Industrial Complex. We must support appropriately anyone who refuses military service, or refuses to pay taxes for war. We must support scientists and engineers who walk away from war-science.
I can hardly claim to have touched upon every important issue concerned with the peace movement. My hope is that others from the peace movement will further discuss these issues in order to make the peace movement more effective in these urgent times.
Previous articles by Andreas Toupadakis:
- Glorifying Peace Instead of War
- Creating Your Future – Arise Great Warrior, Arise!
- Unifying The Global Peace Movement – Challenges and Solutions
- The Real Face of The Empire
- Science, Secrets and Corporate Slavery
- Crisis in Science: Scientists’ Responsibility for the Survival of the Human Species
- Awaken Students! Education is for Self-Awareness and Inner Growth
- Quitting the Nuclear Labs – a Scientist’s Plea for World Peace
- Civilization Is for Making Peace, Not War
- Wisdom and Compassion Need to Become Action
About the author:
Born on the beautiful island of Crete in Rethymno, Greece, Andreas Toupadakis received his B.S. in Chemistry from the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki. He has lived in the U.S. since 1978, and received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1990. Following a career in industry, academia and two US Government laboratories, in 2001 Dr. Toupadakis resigned from a classified government position maintaining nuclear weaponry at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to actively contribute to the peace movement.
Since 2005, Dr. Toupadakis has been teaching at UC Davis, including courses in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry for Life Sciences. A proponent of the Socratic dialogue method, he was the winner of the 7th annual ASUCD Excellence in Education Award as UC Davis’ educator of the year in 2009. He is also the author of three chemistry study guides, and teaches two popular freshman seminars at UC Davis every quarter: “From Self-Awareness to Personal Growth for True Success in and After College” and “World Music as a Means to Embrace Diversity and Reach Self-Discovery”.
Besides teaching chemistry at UC Davis, Dr. Toupadakis has taught chemistry at several other colleges and universities in the U.S. and in Greece, and has also given lectures and written articles on life planning through wise career choice, career change and career satisfaction, and sustainable living across campuses in the U.S., Greece, Japan and recently in India.
His personal website, TheLifeCurve.com, is devoted to student success during and after college. Dr. Toupadakis spends a great deal of his free time with his students at his organic garden plot, which is provided by the Experimental College Community Garden of UC Davis. He also encourages his students to have their own garden plots.