Living from the Inside Out

Dr Scilla Elworthy – Living our values and self knowledge is key to effective action to make the world a safer place

In September 2017 I published The Business Plan for Peace. The book demonstrates how 25 tried and tested strategies for preventing war can be scaled up and extended over 10 years, with the aim of preventing armed violence worldwide. Nine of the strategies are now being implemented as programmatic initiatives. Underlying these initiatives are the themes presented below. They articulate the heart of the book. The key to the book is that inner power – self knowledge and self reflection – is essential to the effectiveness of what we do to make the world a safer place.

  • War – part of the human experience for centuries – is neither necessary nor inevitable. It is now clear that we have the experience, the knowledge and the tools to prevent and resolve conflict:
    • There is a marked shift toward global institutions focussing on war prevention and developing more effective mechanisms to do so in a sustainable, and inclusive manner. The problem is that all these institutions are under-funded, while funding for militarisation continues to increase.
    • Local people know best how to prevent and resolve conflict. The four-fold rise in locally-led peace initiatives indicates that the momentum toward a more peaceful world is coming from the grass roots.
    • The cycle of violence repeats and is perpetuated, unless interrupted by wise and courageous people.
  • It is now urgent to acknowledge the real cost of our world being on a war footing:
    • The global arms trade is now valued at $100bn per year. This industry fuels war with minimal regulation or transparency.
    • Western countries lead the world in military expenditure; a major shift in public policy and divestment from arms trading by these countries is crucial to the prevention of war.
    • Five of the world’s six largest arms dealers are the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council; this explains why efforts to curb the arms trade have so far failed.
  • Avoiding war would save trillions of dollars that need to be used to educate, feed and bring water to tens of millions of people and prevent war:
    • Every year, the world spends around $2 trillion on militarisation
    • It would cost only $30 billion a year to end global starvation and hunger.
    • It would cost only $11 billion to provide the world with clean water.
    • It would cost only $2 billion to prevent armed conflict worldwide over 10 years.
  • To make the shift away from a war footing, people at every level require the presence of mind and the wisdom to make the choice for peace:
    • Human beings have strong emotions. When we’re not awake to what is going on inside us, we tend to project our emotions onto others. On a small scale this feeds personal conflict, on a large scale it causes wars. We can change this.
    • To build peace effectively, whether in government or at grassroots, requires us to understand the nature of conflict, confront our deeply embedded convictions and experiences, and learn the skills required.
    • For example, humiliation is a key driver of violence, and respect is the strongest antidote to humiliation.
    • When he came out of prison, Nelson Mandela opted for patience, flexibility and wisdom over violence. By doing this, he and his colleagues avoided a civil war that would have cost millions of lives.
    • Everyone can become an effective builder of peace, using the skills offered at the end of the book. Self knowledge and the development of inner power are essential to effective work in the world.
  • The Business Plan for Peace is an antidote to apathy. Here are some of the strategies currently underway:
    • Use the Mandela model to build the Social Architecture for Peace, creating peace councils at national, city and village levels to implement their plans fpr averting impending armed violence.
    • A Programme for Divestment in Weapons Production, incentivising pension, endowment and sovereign wealth funds to move their investments into more sustainable and less harmful ethical funds.
    • Support qualified women to take their place in negotiating peace agreements, using their power to defuse bigotry, racism and armed violence and thereby enabling agreements to last longer.
    • Establish Rapid Response Mediation Teams for Different Regions using nationals of the countries where conflict is brewing, who are best placed to understand the perceptions and attitudes of the stakeholders concerned.
    • The Top 10 Countries on the Global Peace Index to support and mentor the 10 least peaceful countries on the Index.
    • Enable all member countries of NATO to establish a Conflict Prevention Fund to complement their defence budget.


Dr Scilla Elworthy, Oxford, September 2018

Scilla Elworthy Ph D. Three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Oxford Research Group which she founded in 1982 to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics. She founded Peace Direct in 2002 to fund, promote and learn from local peace-builders in conflict areas. Awarded the Niwano Peace Prize in 2003, and was adviser to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson in setting up ‘The Elders’. Latest book: The Business Plan for Peace: Building a World Without War, and her TED talk on nonviolence has been viewed by over 1,400,000 people.

Spirituality in Practice

Worry comes from a position of insecurity and fear. When I feel threatened and begin to worry my mind starts to create horror scenarios and produce a lot of thoughts at a high speed. This in an attempt to be ahead of events, gain control and find solutions or ways to protect myself and/or others. But it does not really work. Why?

Worry only produces a storm of negative thoughts which waste my energy, blur my mind and make me weak. My power to discern diminishes when I worry and the high speed of thoughts is like driving a car too fast, I have very little control. One misjudgement and there is an accident. I am an easy prey for imagination, misunderstanding, hasty conclusion, often followed by accusations and blame. But no solution.

Spiritual principles for overcoming worry:

  1. Realise: Worrying is a habit. Habits can be changed, but it takes time, so I need determination, patience and friendliness towards myself.
  2. Accept: I am not in control. Remove any burden by mentally giving the situation to God, the Universe, Life or whatever I choose to call a power greater than myself.
  3. Remember: Peace is my innermost quality. Talk myself into claiming the experience: “I am a peaceful being, calm is my property”.
  4. Detach yourself: See the situation as part of a play where everyone involved has a part and plays them perfectly.
  5. Rise above: Pure thoughts of good wishes contain a lot of spiritual power, has a harmonising effect and puts me in a position of strength and generosity.

Now you are in a position of positive power and you can contribute, even if nothing else but good wishes.


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