Winslow Myers, an artist and teacher, has worked for many years with Beyond War, an organization that explores and promotes the means for humanity to live without war. Here he presents a cogent case against the presumption that war will always be with us given the violent nature of human beings and the realities of nationalism and power. This guidebook against war begins with an examination of three guiding principles: 1) War is obsolete, 2) We are one on this planet, and 3) The means are the ends in the making.
Myers points out that the war in Iraq has proven to be so destructive that it is dysfunctional. Exact statistics for civilian deaths in this conflict are hard to verify but as of 2008, conservative estimates suggest that 100,000 noncombatants have been killed as a direct or indirect result of the U.S. invasion. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Stiglitz estimates that the Iraq war could end up costing over three trillion dollars. There is also the cost in lost opportunities projects that could have been done if so much money were not allocated to war.
All Americans need to ask, in the words of the Society of Friends, What in our economy, our consumption habits, our politics, and even our religious convictions might be contributing to the general condition of war? It is high time that we stop bowing down to the winds of war and find more ways of resolving our differences with those we insist on calling our enemies.
According to Myers, one context for moving beyond "us versus them" thinking is to be found in the unity principle that is part and parcel of both science and religion. Three core practices will help: 1) resolving conflict, 2) maintaining good will, and 3) working together. We can begin by incarnating nonviolence in our everyday lives. Another step was suggested by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:
"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude."
Myers offers four more strategies to prevent and end war:
• The practice of diplomacy and nonviolent conflict-resolution processes;
• The contribution of appropriate humanitarian foreign aid to developing countries;
• Respect for and adherence to international law;
• Cooperation and collaboration with other nations.
The author concludes that for a shift to take place in the support of war we are going to have to develop dialogue that opens our minds and hearts to new levels of compassion and creativity. That means moving beyond argument, impatience, inauthenticity, fear, drift, assumptions, and boxes.