Volunteer Spotlight: Helen

Announcing our volunteer spotlight series! In each biweekly e-newsletter, we’ll be sharing the stories of World BEYOND War volunteers around the world. Want to volunteer with World BEYOND War? Email greta@worldbeyondwar.org.

International Peace Day Team: Charlie, Ava, Ralph, Helen, Dunc, RoseMary
Not present: Bridget and Annie


South Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

How did you get involved with World BEYOND War (WBW)?

Since my 20s, I have been interested in peace (both inner peace and world peace) and consciousness (both my own and the outside world’s). I had a left-brain logical education and corporate career path (degrees in math, physics, and computer science followed by various management positions in operations and systems). But I still had a small voice within telling me that this was not my life’s work. After 19 years of corporate life, I shifted and ultimately started my own company offering leadership and team-building retreats to corporate groups. I introduced my groups to the Enneagram as a way of understanding different and equally valuable leadership styles. Because the Enneagram is a system for understanding personality where you find your place based on your inner experience (your habits of thinking, feeling, and perceiving), and not your outer behavior, these workshops were vehicles for “consciousness raising” for both individuals and the team.

Then, a year ago, I listened to a debate between Pete Kilner and David Swanson on whether there is such a thing as a “just” war. I found David’s position absolutely compelling. I started my own research to verify for myself what I was hearing and went on to attend two peace conferences: Rotary International’s Conference on Peacebuiding (June 2018) where I connected with the work of the Institute for Economics and Peace; and WBW’s Conference (Sept 2018), where I connected with just about everything anyone said! I went on to take the War Abolition 101 online course and followed all the links and threads as the course progressed.

WBW inspires me because it looks holistically at the institution of war and the culture of militarism. We must shift our collective consciousness to a culture of peace. I do not want to oppose this war or that war. I want to raise people’s consciousness – one person at a time, one group at a time, one country at a time – so that they no longer tolerate war as a way to resolve conflict. I am very grateful to WBW for the incredible amount of insight and knowledge it has given me, the information and guidance it provides on how to talk about this with other people, and the urgency it brings to addressing what I consider to be the #1 priority on our planet.

What kinds of volunteer activities do you help with?

I’m a chapter coordinator for Pivot2Peace, the South Georgian Bay chapter of World BEYOND War. After completing the War Abolition 101 online course, I knew I wanted to act. My husband and I decided to start by just talking with people – small groups in our home. We usually began by discussing whether war could be justified, and, like me, most people would go immediately to WWII. We then watched the debate and most people started to question their assumptions. We had about a dozen of these meetings, and, as more and more people became involved, we coalesced around the idea of becoming the South Georgian Bay Chapter for World BEYOND War. Our initial priorities would be outreach and education, asking people to sign the peace pledge, and creating an inspiring, educational and FUN event for the International Peace Day on September 21. In the long-term, we’re planning to organize an educational guest speaker series, and to help plan the #NoWar2020 conference in Ottawa.

We had 20 people at our inaugural chapter meeting in June and the enthusiasm was palpable! Presto – an organizing committee for our International Peace Day Event assembled itself: Charlie, with his extensive experience organizing musical events for thousands of people; Ralph, with his background in the Ontario energy sector and his calm management style; Dunc, with his technical and musical expertise and all the equipment we need for our musical performers; Bridget, with her Quaker background and common sense approach; Ava, with her knowledge of healing modalities and her compassion for others; RoseMary, with her corporate management expertise and her experience running the 100+ Women Who Care SGB; Annie, with her background in communications and marketing, and her skill in “getting out the word;” and Kaylyn, who donated her considerable talents to creating our marketing materials and a 30-minute powerpoint presentation that we can now offer to larger groups. And all of our other members (over 40 now) who bring their skills and passion for shifting our planet’s consciousness to peace. I am blown away by the talent and commitment of our members!

What’s your top recommendation for someone who wants to get involved with WBW?

Just do it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know exactly how you will contribute. The fact that you are aware of the urgency to end the institution of war is enough. The specifics will become clear as you get more involved. Keep reading. Keep learning. And talk with as many people as possible. With each conversation it will become clearer.

What keeps you inspired to advocate for change?

I have a few strategies that I use to stay inspired. I can sometimes feel overwhelmed at the sheer size of what we want to accomplish, or discouraged by the complacency of others. If I catch myself in time, I simply change the thoughts that are getting me down, and remind myself of the urgency of our vision. My meditation practice helps as well, as does spending time in nature (usually hiking or kayaking). And I always get re-energized when I can spend time with like-minded people.

Many Canadians say “We live in Canada. By world standards, we are already a peaceful country. What can we be doing from here?” The answer is clear – A LOT! It is our collective consciousness that has brought us to this point. Our complacency is part of that. We each have a responsibility to help shift our planet to a culture of peace.

Posted August 14, 2019.

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