Volunteer Spotlight: Phil Anderson

Each month, we share the stories of World BEYOND War volunteers around the world. Want to volunteer with World BEYOND War? Email greta@worldbeyondwar.org.

Upper Midwest Chapter Coordinator Phil Anderson speaks into a microphone. In front is a Veterans For Peace sign, reading "Honor the Fallen. Heal the Wounded. Work for peace."


Wisconsin, U.S.

How did you get involved with anti-war activism and World BEYOND War (WBW)?

During my working life I was involved with unions. I still am a union member in retirement. I was a civil servant in Wisconsin and have state employee retirement. I am also a military retiree with three years active duty and 17 years in the National Guard and reserves.

When Republican Scott Walker became governor of Wisconsin in 2011, I became seriously active in opposing his anti-union, anti-public servant policies, and attacks on Wisconsin’s public retirement program.

As a result of this political activism I met Vern Simula, a member of Veterans For Peace (VFP) and a strong activist on many issues. I became actively involved in the Duluth VFP chapter.

I don’t remember when I became aware of World BEYOND War, but I was very impressed, especially with WBW’s book, “A Global Security System: An Alternative to War.” I began promoting this book at tabling events with VFP.

In an effort to grow our work, another Duluth VFP member, John Pegg, and I decided to organize a Duluth chapter of WBW. We have organized several events, including for the International Day of Peace and an online day of action against the war in Yemen. We work in collaboration with Grandmothers for Peace, WBW, Veterans For Peace, and other peace and justice activists to create a stronger movement in our area.

What kinds of WBW activities do you work on?

Having been a veteran, one of my primary concerns is the huge amount of waste in military spending. One of the biggest sources of waste is nuclear weapons. In 2022 Veterans For Peace brought the anti-nuke “Golden Rule Project” to Duluth. Since then local people have formed the Twin Ports Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Our goal is to pass local resolutions advocating for the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. WBW has been very helpful with online tools for this local effort.

What’s your top recommendation for someone who wants to get involved with anti-war activism and WBW?

Don’t get discouraged! Advocating for peace is bucking the tide of American militaristic culture. Building a culture of peace is a long term struggle. As the song “Ship Gonna Sail” says, “we are building a ship we may never sail on…but we are going to build it anyway.” (Google it – it is an inspiring song about all the various activists who came before us).

What keeps you inspired to advocate for change?

It may seem like hoping and working for a better world is hopeless. But where would we be today if all the past advocates for peace and justice had given up? No one ever knows what impact you may have and small contributions can add up. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your activism?

The pandemic had a huge impact on my activism mostly in the ability to have face-to-face meetings. Most of the people I work with in Veterans For Peace and Grandmothers for Peace were older and more at risk. Many of them did not adapt to online meetings. To a large degree the pandemic stalled our activities and the organizations have still not recovered.

Posted May 15, 2023.

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