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Yes, the Abolition of War is Possible

Last week, I had the honor of being included in a workshop that focused on my late sister’s work – peace research. My sister, Randy Forsberg, was an expert on world nuclear arms and disarmament, as well as a peace activist. She authored the proposal that helped launch the Nuclear Freeze Campaign of the 1980s, influencing citizens and politicians to take action against the world’s increasingly dangerous nuclear arsenal.

The huge 1982 New York City Nuclear Freeze demonstration.

Recently, two scholars in this field who got their start working for Randy, Nita Crawford and Matthew Evangelista, turned my sister’s PhD thesis into a book. Toward a Theory of Peace: The Role of Moral Beliefs, published by Cornell University Press, is available online and will eventually be available as a printed book.

Last week’s workshop in Ithaca was a celebration of this accomplishment, and it brought together many peace researchers and activists to talk about Randy’s work, their own work and the future of peace on earth.

Toward a Theory of Peace is easy to read even for a layman like me. It is important to read because it outlines a way in which war could become obsolete. This is not beyond the scope of what can and should happen, if we the people advocate for it.

“I make a case,” writes Randy, “for a limited, well-specified set of

changes as the ‘least-change’ conditions capable of leading to the abolition of war.” Underlying these changes is a “modest shift in norms” (that is, in our moral beliefs) that deadly force is justified only in self-defense against the use of deadly force.

Yet even as I write, new generations of deadly weapons, more

frightening than ever, are being developed. Case in point: Killer bots – small drones preprogrammed to kill specific people or people who fit a certain profile – without human control or observation. (See video.)

One of the biggest concerns of young people today is climate change, not war. But what I’ve been thinking about is the way in which people and nations will clash when the contours of earth begin to change. What will happen to our future if our first response is war? How much more will be destroyed because the majority of humans have not yet embraced the notion of cooperation?

Randy with a colleague. I always remember her laughing.

When Randy was dying, I asked her how I could ever go on without

her. She was for me, as she was for many, a mentor, a champion, a

close friend. Her answer was this: If God is love, and God is all

around us, then I will always be with you because I love you.

Randy's love and passion was more than abstract. She was generous to a fault and wanted nothing more than to help others, to

make changes in the world that express the love and goodness we all carry within. I believe it is the responsibility of every person to be an agent for change, in whatever way possible. There are many organizations one can join; there are many ways to work toward the abolition of war. For one thing, simply believe it is possible. Read Randy’s book.

A list of anti-war organizations:

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