Archive for the ‘From our own world’ Category

A better world has less violence, less war

By Johan Galtung

The National Society of High School Scholars, Claes Nobel World Betterment Award

The Carter Center

3 Dec 2016

I am very grateful for the 2016 Claes Nobel World Betterment Award – Claes being the great grandnephew of Alfred – and to the NSHSS-National Society for High School Scholars, here at the Carter Center in Atlanta.

Let me start by praising you for your dedication to Education, focusing on the high school–in the middle, after K and grade school, before college and graduate school–on teachers and students, learning and doing research, treating them with respect, bestowing dignity.

Society has institutions, like Family, Work and Economy. Sports get too much attention, Education too little.

Politics is about leading and being led, Military is about killing not to be killed.

These two get you into trouble. I have heard this afternoon much about leading, leaders, led. Führer and Duce are German and Italian for leader, “duce” also from educare, educate. Hitler and Mussolini.

Be careful. This is vertical and hierarchical even without nazism and fascism. Today we want horizontal social landscapes, with people relating equitably and harmoniously, through shared memberships and networks, both horizontal and inclusive. For mutual inspiration.

As to killing: the USA killed more than 20 million in 37 countries only after 1945 WWII; and has intervened 248 times militarily in other countries since Thomas Jefferson started in Libya in 1801. 20 million killed means 200 million bereaved–family, friends, neighbors, colleagues. They do not take easily to this type of US leadership.

And less than a century earlier two groups of Americans practiced those very same skills and leadership on each other. The Civil War.

Such was history. How about solving the underlying conflicts?

Instead of the 1850 compromise of shame, “keep slavery but give up the confederacy”, how about “keep much autonomy, but give up slavery”; for a Community of American States, not U.S.A but C.A.S? And in 1924, how about dropping the Versailles Treaty, removing Hitler’s best card? Read the rest of this entry »

Bringing In the Future: An Essay on Time

By Johan Galtung

International Sociological Association Prize
New School for Social Research, New York NY, 15 Nov 2016

The West, and Western sciences in particular, have a peculiar way of conceptualizing time; derived from two millennia Christianity.

Thus, in the civilizations of Hinduism, Buddhism, China and Japan, to mention some, time flows from eternity to eternity. In the West (and Islam is similar), there is a Beginning (Creation for the religious, Big Bang for the secular), and an Ending, the End Time (Armageddon for the religious, entropy, death, etc. for others).

In others, time flows from past into a possibly different future; in the West, the future is continuous with the past. In the natural sciences, “laws” from the past are automatically valid for the future; reality being as stable as the planetary system, the galaxy; astronomy being the model. The Creation has been finished, once and for all.

In the social sciences, the future is largely off limits, taboo; predictions are often discarded as “wild speculations”. Extension of built-in trends into the future is permitted, but not forecasting with qualitative jumps. The underlying assumption is stable equilibrium, things have found their place and that’s it. Thus, no forecasting of (early) modernity during the Middle Ages, let alone working for it.

That is in theory, but the practice is different. People design their individual careers – life trajectories – and have always done so. For collective life there is politics, designing future societies.

But the social sciences are not supposed to be in it. They approach past and present with Read the rest of this entry »

Living longer, but less meaningful lives?

By Johan Galtung
On UN Day and his own 86th birthday

The last one hundred years life expectancy has increased by about 25%-from near 80 to near 100-in some countries. But, instead of increasing playful childhood, education, work and retirement by 25%, the age of retirement has moved much less than the age at death. That deprives masses of older people with experience and wisdom of productive work, of being useful, meeting others constructively; reducing them to being playful–bridge or golf as case may be–and just keeping alive.

Homo sapiens as homo ludens not homo faber. Longer, but emptier lives.

A crime against humanity if there ever was any. However, with two clear remedies: continue working self-employed with pension as salary, or find meaning in dedication to something beyond oneself, some cause, volunteer work. That should be planned well in advance before entering a “career” that peaks before, or at, retirement; the rest being downhill even steeply.

Life is expansion from a fertilized egg to a mature human being and contraction to ever narrower space around oneself till time is up. Western history has many narratives about expansion from some little point to a full-blown empire and contraction to ever narrower spaces. The two model each other with empire expansion giving meaning to life, and contraction, death of empires making life meaningless, with waves of massive suicide ending the Habsburg, Nazi, Apartheid empires. Hitler, in 1940 the head of the largest European empire ever, in 1945 only of his bunker, may have been a suicide model. But it was deeper.

We are now living the accelerating history of the end of the US empire, Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of Europe: The capacity to integrate, for dialogue and to generate

By Maired Maguire

“War is illegal and immoral, it has to end and it can be ended.’

Speech at the international meeting “Thirst For Peace”, Assisi September 18-20, 2016. Promoted by Community of Sant Egidio and Diocese of Assisi and Franciso Families.

Dear Friends,

I am happy to be here at this International Meeting and I would like to thank our hosts, for their invitation to attend. I have always been inspired by the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare, whom I believe are Icons of Christian Gospel Peace and Nonviolence.

Francis the man of action, steeped in empathy and love for all, and Clare a woman of prayer, whose love of God led her into the depth of mysticism and peace.

Francis and Clare lived in a time of violence and war, yet they choose to live the nonkilling/nonviolence of Jesus. Francis as a youth fighting in his local military, knew well how to wield a sword, yet he choose to follow the command of Jesus to Peter, when he told him to put up his sword and healed the Soldier’s ear.

He left the military to live in poverty and service, and together with Clare, and his followers refused to take up arms. Francis and Clare, in the midst of much feudal violence, choose to follow the Christian nonviolence manifesto ‘the Sermon on the Mount’.

For many people in Europe and the world, challenged by growing violence and injustice, the lives of these two great 13th century Saints gives us hope and inspiration.

Pope Francis, following in the steps of St. Francis, gives us all hope as he challenges us to work for the abolition of the death penalty, ending poverty, the arms race, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction, etc.,

However, I believe we need a clear renunciation of the ‘just war’ theory (a phoney piece of morality in the words of the late Fr. John L. McKenzie) and I add my voice to those appealing to Pope Francis for an Encyclical on Peace and Nonviolence, calling Christians to rejection militarism and war and to follow a Peace theology in keeping with the teachings of the Nonviolent Jesus.

This would give great Spiritual leadership not only to Europe but to Humanity.

I believe Europe today Read the rest of this entry »

TFF turns 31: Flashbacks and vision

By Jan Oberg

It’s 31 years today – September 12 – that Christina Spännar and I founded TFF and gathered experts and friends from many walks of life and world corners and set out to make a difference.

1985 were in the midst of European peace and anti-nuclear activities and a moment of history when one could begin to feel the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact cracking, fragmenting and giving way to something new.

Whatever survives this long under very very difficult circumstances of independence and freedom in our world must have some qualities.

During these more than three decades, we’ve been witnesses to world history in international affairs such as the end of the first Cold War with the fall of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the genocide in Burundi and Rwanda, NATOs expansion as well as 9/11, the War On Terror and – sadly – all the failed wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to just mention a few.

But we have also seen the world order change, the trend towards a multipolar world, the betterment after the end of formal colonialism, people living longer and better, the rise of non-Western powers, the good sides of globalisation and modern communication technology etc.

We’ve done research – everything we do is research-based – public education, academic courses, mediation in major conflicts such as Kosovo and a lot of outreach: Social media, videos, media commentaries etc. And we still remember how we sent out newsletter that we had typed on thin stencils and manifolded on a stencil printer, the pages sorted and put into envelopes with address labels. The kids in our street helped us and got some good food (or child labour!) and we could do 1100 in one day in the basement and bring them to the post office the next. Then came the fax machine…

Those were the days.

Today about 10.000 people all over the world get TFF PressInfo several times a month; while it does take a couple of hours to edit and format, they go out in one batch within a couple of minutes at the click of a button. And we are later told who and how many have opened them or clicked on their links!

TFF was among the first academic institutions to actively use the Internet, Read the rest of this entry »

Nominate someone for the Livia Prize for nonviolent conflict-resolution

The Livia Foundation was initiated by The Danish Centre for Conflict Resolution with an aim to enhance its efforts to directly address conflicts in societies through nonviolent interventions – in Denmark and beyond.

The name LIVIA refers to the olive twig, an ancient symbol of ‘approaching peacefully’. Also, at the end of the biblical flood, a dove returned to Noah’s Ark with the twig from an olive tree to signify ‘end of troubles’.

The Livia Foundation aims to create hope by promoting nonviolent conflict resolution in the world:

• making visible all the courageous, nonviolent efforts in evidence on all continents;
• supporting projects and individuals who demonstrate that severe social conflicts can be efficiently resolved through a wealth of ideas and dialogue;
• inspiring politicians, media, organizations and the general public to apply constructive, nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution
• creating conflict preparedness, locally and internationally Economy and organization

The LIVIA Foundation has raised app. DKK 700.000 or well over US$ 100.000. The bulk of these funds is spent on awards and other events, while DKK 250.000 is tied up as the foundation’s statutory capital in the Merkur Bank.

The capital comes from personal donations, from the author fees of the book ‘Conflict and Contact’, from foundations and from the Centre for Conflict Resolution.

The Livia Foundation is a civic, non-political, non-religious, non-profit initiative. We work to promote new ways to support creative, constructive nonviolent conflict resolution.

The foundation is headed by its Board assisted by a large number of active persons, who are particularly active around the prize awards. All are volunteers.

More about Livia and who has been awarded its Prize earlier here.

The worldwide examples of nonviolent action are admirable, but only rarely do they reach the front pages of the media.

This is where the Livia Foundation is working to make a difference:

We will make the life-affirming ideas and solutions known to a larger public, by drawing attention and giving a voice to people working within creative conflict resolution.

Else Hammerich, TFF Associate and former TFF Board member, has been in the forefront of both the Centre’s and the Livia Foundation’s establishment and TFF is proud to help promote knowledge about it and identifying the best possible candidates for the Livia Prize.

See at the end of this presentation how you may nominate someone for this prestigious Prize. Read the rest of this entry »

John Avery’s CV

John Scales Avery

John Scales Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965.

He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen.

Fellowships, memberships in societies
Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004-.

You’ll find a lot about this eminent scholar at Wikipedia. Avery is also a leading peace researcher and activist – “Since 1990, Avery has been the Contact Person for Denmark the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, Avery was part of a group that shared in the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in the 1990s in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

In 1998, Avery was elected to the Danish Peace Commission. During the years 1988-97, Avery was the Technical Advisor at the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe. In 2004, Avery became the Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy.

In his usual humble and plain style John tells the story of his life – his personal life, his scholarly life and his peace life – here.

Publications
Dr. Avery seems to have ben writing day and night throughout his life – here is his amazing list of books, chapters and articles on world affairs.

In early 2016, Irene Publishing – run by TFF Associates Jørgen Johansen and Majken Jul Sørensen – published Avery’s Collected Essays as well as The Need For A New Economic System.

John joined TFF as TFF Associate in March 2016.

TFF PressInfo # 353: “Transnational Affairs” – TFF launches new online “flip” magazine

Lund, Sweden, January 18, 2016

Today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, TFF launches its new online “flip” magazine, “Transnational Affairs”.

Social media posts may soon be forgotten, too far down your feed to find.

We now curate them – 10-15 a day – at “Transnational Affairs” and include other important debate articles, blog posts, analyses and videos you’ll only find here.

That’s why you should click “follow” on this magazine – and Like it too – a treasure trove of quality materials for the concerned citizen, media person, student and researcher.

We curate “Transnational Affairs” to help you understand – easily flipping – what happens in our troubled world and what could be done to make it much better.

“Transnational Affairs” reflects the diversity of TFF’s work and themes – such as peace by peaceful means, nuclear issues, Iran, Syria, Burundi, the Balkans, non-violence, UN matters, world order change, the weakening of the U.S. Empire, refugee and why and how war can be replaced by more intelligent methods.

“Transnational Affairs” is based on our 30 years in business and our commitment to truly independent research and public education.

Furthermore, it’s a completely new and exciting way of browsing on your tablet or phone – you “flip” the magazine’s content.

Learn, be inspired, act – begin here. There are already 560 articles…

TFF PressInfo # 351: The Nobel Foundation taken to court on the Peace Prize

Lund, December 10, 2015

On the day of the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony at Oslo City Hall

To whom it may concern, including the media

We know – and Alfred Nobel knew – how devastating war and arms races are, and how little security we get for all the money we spend on military forces.

The campaign to reclaim the Nobel Peace Prize is first and foremost a campaign to revive the idea that global peace requires global cooperation on disarmament and replacing the law of force with the force of law. Every day more and more of us see, from the Middle East warfare, from the refugee crisis, and many other chilling reminders, the mandatory urgency of a change in world politics.

Alfred Nobel decided to give one fifth of his fortune for a prize to promote disarmament and resolution of all conflicts through negotiations and legal means, never through violence.

Can such a prize, with a so clearly stated goal, be turned to serve the opposite idea and be given again and again to recipients who promote arms races and believe in militarism and war?

This question will soon be answered, after Mairead Maguire, Jan Oberg, Davis Swanson, and Lay Down Your Arms took the case to the Stockholm District Court on Friday 4th of December 2015. Here is the full text of the summons.
and all other relevant information is available at the Nobel Peace Prize Watch.

Test case: the award to the European Union in 2012

The court case will test one of the most obvious violations of the Nobel idea Read the rest of this entry »

Obituary – Dietrich Fischer 1941-2015

By Christina Spännar & Jan Oberg

Our dear friend and TFF Associate since 1985, professor Dietrich Fischer, died today, October 18, 2015.

We met Dietrich through another dear friend Johan Galtung and, together with then West German lieutenant-colonel Wilhelm Nolte, Dietrich became the first scholar-in-residence at TFF in Lund in 1986. That lead to Fischer, Nolte and Oberg’s “Winning Peace. Strategies and Ethics for A Nuclear-Free World published in 1989.”

The two scholars came and worked for periods at TFF, went back home to re-write and then back to Lund – no emails and Dropbox at the time. We met, worked, ate, drank, did excursions and played with our children together. That’s how we did it.

And here’s the local newspaper from January 8, 1986:

Wilhelm Nolte, Jan Oberg and Dietrich Fischer

Dietrich was a genius in defensive defence thinking, Read the rest of this entry »

 

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