American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History
Elise Boulding is one of the (s)heroes in the struggle for a more compassionate and peaceful world. She is professor of sociology at Dartmouth College and a past president of International Women's International league for Peacae and Freedoe.
Her book, Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History, is an extensive and comprehensive survey of 50 years of reflections and research on human societies and cultures. Studying and envisioning the spaces where humanity enters the grace of peace has been her life's work.
Boulding also exposes the "hidden side of history," the unfamiliar story which "rarely shows through in history books." These are peace cultures, where people's "resistance to oppressive institutions and their persistent experiments with peaceable living arrangements remain a reminder to us that peace is possible and the two cultural themes of violence and peace interact over time" to effect the transformation of human societies.
Boulding is optimistic and hopeful, suggesting that the human race is in a transition era. The peace cultures nourished by our vision of how things might be, she writes, are often kept alive in the cracks of a violent society.
"They can help us move away from global destruction and toward a world alive with a great diversity of peaceable life ways. The very ability to imagine something different and better than what currently exists is critical for the possibility of social change."
Utopian communities are examined and the difficult disciplines that make transformation possible are frankly discussed. In this section of the book, she points out that social compassion begins in the small, local setting, but it never ends there--it only opens new paths to the greater whole.
In her search for the roots of peaceable communities, Boulding writes about contemporary societies that set a high value on peace, and examines how adults use conflict management and teach it to children. She describes the ground-breaking, global peacemaking efforts undertaken by feminists, particularly through the United Nations and associated non-governmental organizations like WILPF.
Throughout the book, Boulding stresses the role that relationships can play in enhancing the human capacity for nurturing and empathy. She explores the dynamics of partnership and the models of domination, power, and authority. She writes about progressive movements that work to transform traditional roles and attitudes, including those towards children.
Boulding connects structural violence to institutional patterns of behavior, which is explained as a problem in governance. The patterns are enshrined in outmoded patriarchal structures. She looks closely at development, ecological degradation, corporations, modern technology, capitalism, and militarism. She believes a possible future for society resides in our human capacity for learning and evolving, for imagining and shifting reality. She offers possibilities for the transformation of our war culture into "an interconnected localist world of adventurous but peaceful problem-solvers."
Emblematic of everything she believes about creating a culture of peace is this question: "Is your home a center of peace and love that refreshes and strengthens everyone who comes there?"
Peacemaking begins at home.
--Betty Burkes is past president and current board
member of the Women's International League for Peace and
Freedom. This review first appeared in WILPF's Spring 2001