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Waging Peace

Morning Coffee, Greg Watson

Taking my first sip of coffee on a recent Saturday morning, I scrolled through the NPR website. I clicked on a story about how scientists, with the assistance of powerful computer simulations of the world, surmise that humanity’s only chances of avoiding the worst possible climate outcome rely on us achieving levels of global cooperation considered impossible by most.

The good news is that the models found a way to meet [the zero carbon] target, at least in scenarios where world governments were inclined to cooperate in meeting their Paris commitments.

Cooperation is not part of the dominant imperialist-inspired narrative that has played a major role in placing a majority of people in the world today teetering precariously between hell and high water.

In a couple of hours, my colleague Elizabeth Thompson and I would be logging in to facilitate our very first World GameTMWorkshop exercise for an international network of young people between the ages of 15-25. The Future Leaders Summit is part of a wonderful annual event called Boston GreenFest organized by the intrepid Karen Weber-Salamanca. A few years ago Elizabeth and I negotiated, on behalf of the Schumacher Center, the acquisition of the World GameTM Workshop intellectual property and trademark rights — a multiplayer role-play game conceived by Buckminster Fuller as a counterpoint to military War Games.

In a nutshell, the goal of the World GameTM is to use the same data and information available to War Colleges–specifically the world’s resources, life support, demographics and technology trends to engage anyone interested in creating a world that meets the needs of 100% of humanity in accordance with Nature’s regenerative design strategy.

Our Saturday morning World GameTMactivity was called Global Peace Game. Its overall goal was the same as for the World GameTM, but to operate within the context of a more nuanced scenario that we tailored specifically for the Future Leaders:

It is 2040. Efforts to address climate change nation-by-nation failed to prevent the Earth from continuing to warm at an alarming rate. It had become apparent that unless the nations of the world got their acts together and began to cooperate, everyone would be doomed. The campaign to create humanity’s first global government was organized by a network of young visionaries and activists. Their slogan:

“IT HAS TO BE EVERYBODY OR NOBODY”

To the surprise of the mainstream media, the campaign was successful. The New World Government was established with the agreement that it would be governed by a truly representative Global Council composed of individuals from seven designated regions of the world. It was further decreed that all representatives would all be between the ages of 15-25.

New world, fresh perspectives.

Our prescient Global Peace Game scenario anticipated the super climate computer described in the NPR article. It continued:

Council members constructed a computer simulation of the Earth powered by data on the vital statistics of Nature’s and Human’s systems. The simulation’s official name was UoO (Utopia or Oblivion). UoO left no doubt that the only way humans could avoid their own extinction would be by ending all wars. After reviewing all of UoO’s assumptions and logic Council members agreed that achieving Global Peace would be their highest priority.
The delegates, role-playing as representatives from the seven world regions (Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Central Asia, East Asia and Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, South Asia, and North America), would be organized into “Global Councils.” Each Council member would be asked to contribute to the process of mapping alternative pathways to world peace that do not conflict with meeting the needs of the citizens living in the region they represent.

I logged into the Future Leaders Summit at around 9:40 am EDT – twenty minutes prior to the official start time. Around 100 prospective delegates to the summit were registered – the majority overwhelmingly from India and Africa. The only thing Elizabeth and I had known about them was the range of their ages.

 

Future Leaders participating as delegates in the Global Peace Game

We had emailed materials to each delegate in advance. Three documents, to be precise: a description of the World GameTM and its guiding principles/rules; a document entitled Leadership For Peace – a collection of quotes and proverbs by inspirational and spiritual elders that were recommended by the Summit planning team and a set of thematic maps illustrating regional comparisons on issues related to demographics, economics, environment, health, education, military spending and other topics.

Suggested prompts from the Facilitators Handbook:

Can peace be won?
Can peace be declared?
Can peace be enforced?
What can we learn from our elders about peace?
Everyone is invited to ReIMAGINE the world
Can you imagine a world without nations?
Can you imagine a world without armies?
Can you imagine a universal guaranteed income?
What else could/should we imagine?

 

Seven break out rooms hosted seven alternative Global Councils. The youth spoke passionately about imperialism, colonialism, occupation, decolonization, indigenous wisdom, subjugation, “the scars of history” and more. More than a few wondered if peace is achievable while some believed that peace means different things to different people. Others pointed to the problems with nation-states and at the same time expressed frustration at not being able to imagine a world without them. Every perspective was appreciated and fueled the flames of honest discussions.

What does peace look like?
Participant Responses:

  • political equity
  • equal access to resources
  • peace is a state of mind
  • absence of gender-based restrictions
  • no more wars, leads to destruction
  • chase your dream, ignore the competition
  • sustainable resources
  • promoting economic equality-financial stability leads to improved health (mental, physical, and emotional) and thereby peace
  • peace is individualistic
  • equality may not lead to peace
  • there is hope. but we are faced with competition which implies conflicts

What are the obstacles and barriers to overcoming all that come in the way of peace?
Participant Responses:

  • gender stereotypes – mental health is affected
  • remaining in an “old fashioned” mindset, not ready to change – can affect the environment
  • misinformation through media
  • economic inequalities
  • the sharing of power
  • division through, political standings, difference in resources, religious and cultural barriers
  • peace sustains other structures
  • understanding the needs and structures and creating dialogue around it

When we reached the end of the second and final day of the summit, I felt like we had just begun to break through. And that felt just fine. In fact, we’ve already been asked by some of the participants about next year’s World GameTM Workshop and even interim sessions.

Stay tuned.

Greg Watson

 

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

African Proverb

Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone.

Moroccan Proverb

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