Unifying the Global Peace Movement – Challenges and Solutions

by Andreas Toupadakis PhD -

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...

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