"The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes
of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe."
Albert Einstein, 1946
The development, deployment and use of nuclear weapons have
forever altered our environment. For the first time, a species
has the capability of destroying itself and its life support
system. Our thinking, however, has not yet caught up with that
reality. In order to survive, we must change our mode of
thinking. This change requires knowledge, decision, and action.
A. War is Obsolete
Throughout recorded history, war has been used to acquire, to
defend, to expand, to impose, to preserve. War has been the
ultimate arbiter of differences between nations. War and the
preparation for war have become intrinsic to human culture. Now
we must accept the reality that war has become obsolete.
* We cannot fight a full-scale nuclear war. A full-scale nuclear
war would destroy civilization as we know it and would threaten
* We cannot fight a limited nuclear war. Detonation of even a
small percentage of the world's nuclear arsenals could trigger a
"nuclear winter" and could cause the extinction of humanity. It
is also highly probable that a limited nuclear war would escalate
to a full-scale nuclear war.
* We cannot fight a conventional war among the superpowers. Such
a war would likely escalate to a nuclear war.
* We cannot fight a conventional war among the non-superpowers
without potentially involving the superpowers. The growing
interdependence of nations has produced a network of "vital
interests" that the superpowers have pledged to defend. This
defense could, in turn, escalate through conventional war to
Today, because war has become obsolete, we must learn to resolve
conflict without violence.
B. We are One
"Once a photograph of the earth, taken from the outside, is available...
a new idea as powerful as any in history will let loose."
Sir Fred Hoyle, 1948
The view of the earth from space is a symbol of the
interconnectedness of all life. This symbol of oneness is
validated by a variety of scientific discoveries of the last
* Physics demonstrates that nothing exists in isolation. All of
matter, from sub-atomic particles to the galaxies in space, is
part of an intricate web of relationships in a unified whole.
* Ecology provides the understanding that all parts of a living
system are interconnected and that greater stability results from
* Biology reveals that, in a totally interrelated system, the
principle of survival of the "fittest" is now seen as that
species which best contributes to the well-being of the whole
* Psychology explains the projection of the dark side of the
personality upon an "enemy." That knowledge gives us new tools
to understand conflict and to improve relationships between
individuals and between nations.
Together these discoveries reveal in a new way the meaning of
"One." We are one interconnected, interdependent life-system,
living on one planet.
C. The New Mode of Thinking
The knowledge that war is obsolete and that we are one is the
foundation of the new mode of thinking. Our mode of thinking is
what we identify with. It determines our values, our attitudes,
our motivation, and our actions.
Until recently, we had not experienced the earth as one
integrated system. We had limited experience of other peoples
and other cultures. Therefore, our primary loyalty has been
limited to our family, tribe, race, religion, ideology, or
nation. Our identification has been restricted and we have often
seen those beyond that identification as enemies.
In the nuclear age this limited identification threatens all
humanity. We can no longer be preoccupied with enemies. We can
no longer see ourselves as separate. Modern transportation,
communication systems and the discoveries of science have
increased tremendously our direct and indirect experience of the
world. We now see that all of life is interdependent, that we
share a common destiny, that our individual well-being depends on
the well-being of the whole system. We must now identify with
all humanity, all life, the whole earth. This expanded
identification is the new mode of thinking.
It may be that we will never eliminate conflict between
individuals or between nations. There will always be different
perspectives, different ideas and different approaches to
problems. However, an overriding identification with the whole
earth will enable us to resolve conflicts by discovering
solutions that benefit all. Diversity will no longer be a cause
of war. By changing our mode of thinking, diverse points of view
will become a source of creative solutions.
The human species has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to
change its mode of thinking. As we have matured and acquired new
knowledge, we have expanded our identification beyond the tribe,
clan and the city-state. As we began to expand our
identification beyond race, we abolished the institution of
slavery. Now, by expanding our identification to the whole earth
and all humanity, we will build a world beyond war.
"The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not
perish, is to shake off our ancient prejudices and build the earth."
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1936
The process of building a world beyond war begins with the
acknowledgement that war is obsolete and that we are one. Change
then requires a decision to reject totally the obsolete and to
commit totally to build upon the new identification.
Decision means "to-cut" (-cision) "away from" (de-), to reject
forever an option, to close the door to an existing possibility.
Without a decision it is impossible to discover the new. There
is always a peril in moving into the unknown. We cannot preview
all that will happen. We must draw upon our individual and
collective experience of making such "leaps" in the past.
The decision to change our modes of thinking must be made on an
individual basis. Individuals are the basic element of
societies. Without an individual change, societal change cannot
occur. Each of us must decide to adopt the new mode of thinking
as the basis of his or her life.
"To compromise in this matter is to decide; to postpone and evade decision
is to decide; to hide the matter is to decide...There are a thousand ways
of saying no; one way of saying yes; and no way of saying anything else."
Gregory Vlastos, 1934
Societies generate their own vision of what is possible and draw
their behavior from that vision. This nation must renew its
commitment to the vision upon which it was founded and build
agreement about the implications of that vision in the
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal;
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;
that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to
secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Declaration of Independence, 1776
We have not always lived up to the highest expression of our
founding principles. For example, "all men are created equal"
originally meant only white, tax-paying, property-owning males.
Clearer understanding of these principles has resulted in
creative change. When enough of us agreed that "all men are
created equal" meant black and white, we abolished slavery. When
enough of us agreed that it meant women and men, we instituted
women's suffrage. When enough of us agree that it mean more than
"separate but equal," we recognized civil rights.
When new agreements about principles are reached, laws, treaties
and policies are developed to implement them. That is the only
sequence of lasting change: agreement about principle, the law.
Law cannot effectively precede agreement. Agreement must spring
from new understanding of principles. The action through which
agreement is built is education.
Today education must be based upon the knowledge that war is
obsolete and that we are one. We now know that the principle
"all men are created equal" applies to every human being on the
planet. We now know that the unalienable right to life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness cannot be secured by war. We must
now work together to build agreement based on that knowledge
throughout our society.
Power comes from individuals who are connected to universal
principles and who are working together to build new agreements.
The power of the nation has come from involvement of the people
in the unfolding of our founding principles. We have always
agreed that such involvement is not the exclusive right of the
elite. Truth is self-evident: it is available to all. Power
flows not from the top, but from the consent of the governed.
Our Great Seal says it clearly: "E Pluribus Unum--Out of Many,
We have become a demonstration of that statement on our Great
Seal. The possibility that resulted from the process of
involving people in the pursuit of truth has been unfolding for
200 years. This process has served as a beacon of hope and
inspiration to people around the world. It has drawn the largest
diversity of people ever assembled in one nation. We have
gathered the "Many"--the religions, the races, the
nationalities--working for the well-being of the "One," the
United States of America.
To fulfill the purpose and vision upon which this nation was
founded, we must change our understanding of the principle "Out
of Many, One" to include the whole earth and all life. We must
work together to build a world beyond war.
"I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but the
people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not
to take the power from them, but to inform them by education."
Thomas Jefferson, 1820
Try to take the whole concept in together. Do not get lost in a
disagreement on a small point or technicality. This is the most important
issue to face Mankind. We need your help, now!
Questions or comments concerning this concept should be directed
to the Beyond War BBS (FIDO 301) at (213) 477-5706, 23 hours per
day. Give us a call.