The Cosmopolitan Viewpoint
Posted by Jack J. Zaccara
One World United & Virtuous
Elise Boulding died last month. This is not what I envisioned my first posting to be about, but life (and death) has a way of diverting us from the best of plans. It was not a headline making death, although there was a fitting obituary in the Sunday Times this week (July4th, 2010). It was the loss of a mighty ally in the quest for a world united and at peace.
Elise Boulding, in her eighty-nine years on the planet, became one of the pioneers of Peace Studies as an academic field, advocated for nongovernmental organizations (like our own) as effective facilitators of world citizenship, and focused on strong families and the early education of children in non-violent problem solving. Her focus was that we “share a common space, common resources, and common opportunities”. I have two of her books in my library, Cultures of Peace, The Hidden Side of History, and my personal favorite, Building a Global Civic Culture, Education for an Interdependent World. This book in particular has been a roadmap for us as we worked to bring One World United & Virtuous from an idea into a reality. She had given many of our ideas a voice long before we were able to articulate our own vision:
“There is no intention here of promoting any specific image of the future.
Life is a process, and growth and change will continue as long as there
is life. Rather, the book is intended to help readers recover the feeling of
the purposive, creative act; to recover the feeling of possibility, the feeling
that things can change. The emerging civic culture implies the existence of
reflective human beings who are making choices. It also implies a willingness
to immerse oneself in empirical realities, to find out how things are for
many different kinds of people. If the planet needs mending, carpenters
must know their materials.”
Elise Boulding was a Professor Emerita of Sociology at Dartmouth, Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association, had been the international chairperson of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and taught at the University of Colorado, in addition to authoring numerous other books that challenged us to do better in the 21st century than we had done in the 20th. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 by the American Friends Service Committee. She leaves us a legacy that challenges us to imagine, rethink, and rebuild a better world.
In Building a Global Civic Culture, Ms. Boulding gives the “old fashioned” idea of teaching civics a rebirth by asking us to think in terms of a “two hundred year present”. Since people are alive today who were born 100 years ago and others are alive who will still be here 100 years from now, we can begin to think of ourselves as a link from the past to the future. Teaching our children that the future matters and that they are agents of change for better or worse can be a powerful message of empowerment. So we at One World will keep the line moving in the right direction as best we can. This fall, as we pilot One World Clubs in schools that we hope will serve as places of education for an interdependent world, we will keep Elise Boulding in mind. We will continue the work that she pioneered so passionately and intelligently… the creation of a species identity that will encompass cultural diversity. Thank you Ms. Boulding, for a life well lived and for pointing the way to possibilities for us all.