Open discussion

This page is where you can add comments about the How to Save the World project (and suggestions for our Platform for Survival.)

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  1. Today ‘s announcement by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that the Doomsday Clock is now at Two Minutes to Midnight makes it even more urgent that we all use our creative abilities to bring hope and sanity to our planet.

    • I don’t know whether the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists mentioned this as part of the explanation for moving the clock’s hands, but this is definitely a scary development: The cyber experts say that it may be possible for a hacker to get into the system controlling nuclear weapons and launch one. I went to see Jon Lindsay at the U of Toronto’s Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict, and Justice studies, and he mentioned this as a topic he’s been investigating.

  2. What if everyone taking part in this discussion and preparation for the conference agreed to write to theHeads of governments of the nine nuclear weapon states and the umbrella states stating that present deterrence doctrines are insane and that the nwstates must promise to take off alert status and pledge no first use as the first most urgent steps to abolition ?

  3. My idea for the Science for Peace organization’s “Platform for Survival,” project does not directly involve the science aspect of your six objectives nor your mandate for hurry. My idea offers instead the fostering of an attitude towards peace making among large populations for the purpose of supporting your and other peace projects. Prior attempts to share the same idea with heads of other Canadian peace organizations, never merited replies or allowed me to feel heard. A failed outcome for which I willingly take half responsibility. But, because you asked, I hope my idea is better expressed and taken more seriously today.

    For a start, your peace plan message is being distributed throughout a country whose official statisticians estimate that 1 in 5 of their citizens will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. a statistic that to me that implies many Canadians have already lost and or are striving to regain inner peace. A country as well whose current economics challenge it’s young’s need of an education, meaningful work, and the possibility of buying a home and starting a family. Stressors that cannot help but increasingly feed the above statistic.

    Experience in the realm of that same statistic and concern for your peace aims allow me to imagine how difficult it will be for many similarly affected Canadian’s to move beyond the stigma associated with their isolation, disabilities and struggles to give a damn about your peace project.

    For that reason, I suggest Science for Peace places a broader human face on the notion of peace and uses science to show how all efforts to create peace support their Platform for Survival work.

    As an example, I suggest using scientific studies from the the field of psychoneuroimmunology that prove thought becomes chemistry in the body and can also widen into communities and beyond, i.e., groups as diverse as olympic athletes, cancer sufferers and business executives, apply visualization techniques to enhance successful outcomes in a range of their related endeavours.

    J.K. Kiecolt-Glaser, et al., “Psychological Influences on Surgical Recovery: Perspectives from Psychoneuroimmunology,” American Psychologist 53 (1998): 1209-1218.
    G.B. Miller and S. Cohen, “Psychological Interventions and Immune System: A Meta-analytic Review and Critique,” Health Psychology 20 (2001): 47-63.

    If your organization in addition to your main goals builds on this fact and publicly recognizes in their meetings and emailed messages how the micro whether small individual attempts to find inner peace or macro such your own, “Platform for Survival,” project cannot be divorced or viewed as separate any more than self care can be separated from care of other and the planet.

    For a Canadian Peace organization to acknowledge the work of finding inner peace as real work and of real importance to the entire global peace effort holds the possibility of allowing the marginalize to feel valued and more connected to your work. In creating meaning for others, your work will also give further meaning to the word peace.

    On January 14, 2015, an email meant to inspire my coming year and sent by the respected activist organization called Avaaz. contained the following statement.
    “ . . . Dag Hammarskjöld, the great UN leader, once reflected that we’d never make sustainable progress in our world until we all “walked the longest journey”. The journey within. Each of our capacities to create the world we dream of depends on our own journey, from fear to love, towards believing in ourselves, and leaving our demons behind. . .”

    Prior to the Avaaz email, I had rarely heard inner emotional work publicly valued as “real work.”
    Yet, from the 1980’s onward, mentors informed a similar change in my attitudes towards inner work and in doing so,
    • Helped dissolve the stigma of my psychiatric experience,
    • Convinced me that emotional work was actually revolutionary,
    • Freed me to replace shame with pride and regard for the contribution an individual’s recovery work could offer the culture.

    As a woman artist and writer whose childhood history of sexual abuses was silenced by a schizophrenia diagnosis then treated with a ten-year course of prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, The fact science did not bring me peace in the past prompts me to try to respectfully convince your Science for Peace organization that their goal to create a platform for survival cannot be divorced from the will for survival in each person or country they hope to save.

  4. Thank you, Susan Schellenberg, for your thoughtful and important suggestion. Your point is clearly valid: emotional wellbeing is conducive to good politics. Inner peace is certainly worth cultivating, both for its own sake and as a way of advancing “outer” peace. Each one of us has our own inner work to do in clarifying our understanding of the world and orienting ourselves to it in a more productive way.
    On the other hand, while emotional wellbeing and mental health SUPPORT the quest for peace, I am not sure that they are PRECONDITIONS for peace. Nor am I sure that they are more readily attainable than external peace. In fact, I am almost certain that they are more difficult than ordinary peace work in the sense of political advocacy or protests against bad policies. Lots of actions can restrain a destructive, harmful person without turning him into a lovable, helpful person. Just locking someone up or excluding him from a group may occasionally suffice to let the constructive people get on with the work than the “bad guy” had been impeding.
    I think this is the reason why most peace groups did not respond to your proposals as you had hoped. We think we can make more progress by working to advance particular political or social policies than by working on improving the personal qualities of each other. Anyhow, I thank you for your comments. Let’s see whether others reply to either of us.

    • Ms Schellenberg’s suggestion merits a less dismissive and more direct reply. Perhaps Science for Peace, Ms Spencer in particular, require a level of rigour and an outcome (“single piece of paper”) to spur action, but the suggestion that, “thought becomes chemistry in the body and can also widen into communities and beyond” is a rich vein and lends itself perfectly to the holistic approach Ms Spencer says is a key goal of the forum.
      Many non-specialist people attending the forum may agree with Ms Schellenberg’s that “fostering of an attitude towards peace” is key to our species having a future. The quotation from Dag Hammarskjöld beautifully captures the necessity of society facing these threats collectively.
      I confess my deep suspicion of experts and policy influencers. I try to avoid negativity, though, and so I often make the argument against relying on them by pointing out that even if the UN was granted complete power by all world governments immediately, the outcome would be disappointing because no power can impose change. Change on the scale we need must be accepted on a mass scale because, after all, it is everyone’s behaviour that put us here.
      This is why Ms Schellenberg’s “difficult” offering makes sense to me: we/humans need to know more about our capacity for such woo-woo behaviours as hive mind.
      Of course we like solutions. However, the notion that science can lead us to safety is too close to the notion that the common folk are ill-equipped to contribute. Let’s keep our powder dry and examine paths that may take more patience and faith than we think we have time for.
      Wishing you well in this attempt to unify the smarty-pants.

  5. “Do you have a good idea to share about how to prevent disinformation campaigns on social media?”

    No I do not. Primarily because you can’t stop misinformation from getting into the heads of Crazy Stupid People. You can’t yell “FIRE” in a movie theatre but you can cut and paste Pizzagate stories until your typing fingers fall off. You can’t stop Limbaugh, Hannity, and everybody else on FOX from lying in front of microphones and cameras. The Fairness Doctrine went away in 1987. In order to stop misinformation … we’d need a Time Machine.

  6. On the idea of “reducing armed forces by 80%”, here are some quick thoughts. I think the bulk of Canadian armed forces might be most useful deployed in UN peacekeeping missions, an important niche that we have some historical association and experience with. In terms of numbers, Cdn forces already are not large, but what should they be doing? If we embrace the “shift to Sustainable Common Security”, then we must contribute to global needs. Well trained Canadians under the UN banner are in demand. We should also be supporting the development of UN standing capacity through a new UN Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) — these would UN hired, and not part of the Canadian forces, however.

    • I would never want to disagree with Robin Collins. Never! But here goes:

      While it might be great for Canada to shift 100% of its current military into peacekeeping operations, it would not be necessary for all the countries in the world to do so, for we would then have 100 times as many soldiers on duty as would be required for any likely peacekeeping needs, or indeed all the activities of a more general UN Emergency Peace Service. So on the whole, countries could afford to reduce their military units by 80 percent and still be able to donate 10 percent of them or so to “Sustainable Common Security,” though I admit that I don’t know quite what that category consists of.

      Anyway, it would be generous of Canada to contribute its forces to Sustainable Common Security, but if we look at the whole world, security would be IMPROVED by actually reducing the militaries of each nation by 80 percent. I personally would reduce even more, but let’s start with that.

  7. Hello again Metta

    I appreciate your efforts to understand and comment on my letter. The morning after I posted my ideas,
    I read and felt those same ideas somewhat validated in a Chris Hedges, Truthdig article called,”The Bankruptcy of the American Left”

    But, I sensed you felt I was asking the Science for Peace group to do inner work or volunteer work at some such place as CAMH. Not at all. I respect your unique mandate and work.

    I was solely suggesting SFP might want to broaden their audience by briefly acknowledging at their meetings or in their emailed public notices the diverse models of peacemaking that occur in society and how each of these models serve the other as well as the common good.
    Having experienced emotional pain, and the positive benefits of inner work, I felt SFP was well placed to add a few words of encouragement to those who seek peace differently.

  8. Susan, your comments are thoughtful and wise. I don’t expect we will fulfill your wish very often just because we are busy and rushed, so we don’t do everything we might do, but your ideas are good.

    Best wishes.

  9. We are forging ahead, preparing the open forum on “How to Save the World in a Hurry” for May 30 and 31, at the Bahen Center, at the University of Toronto. I hope you’ll come. And beforehand, we all need to do some thinking about the usefulness of various possible public policies that are being proposed.

    For one, there’s the “Tobin Tax” — also known as the “Robin Hood Tax.” Joy Kennedy will discuss it with us in a Facebook Live lecture. If you can’t come, please watch it and send us your questions, which she will answer. It’s at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 7 on the Science for Peace Facebook page. See you then!

  10. Your actions to protect the planet from war and nuclear war are very good, but leave out one very important factor – the military corporations which promote militarism in order to maintain high military budgets for their own personal gain. I suggest to include in your actions a) support for the Global Campaign on Military Spending, b) support for Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign, including divestment from nuclear weapons corporations,

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