By Marc Eliot Stein, World BEYOND War, January 30, 2024
World BEYOND War, ten years old this month, is alive on different levels. We’re a collective of regional activist chapters who organize local community events all over the planet. We’re an online school that develops and presents unique educational material to teach what corporate-funded universities won’t. We’re a media platform that publishes original research and broadcasts messages for our enthusiastic readers to interact with, share and amplify. We’re a grassroots funding operation that turns the passionate hopes and idealistic dreams of small donors into real-world results. We’re an advisory board and a board of directors made up of many of the hardest-working antiwar activists, writers, practitioners, teachers and thinkers in the world. If the World BEYOND War podcast could celebrate all the different human beings who contribute to this organization in a single episode, we would.
But we chose a simpler task for our 10th anniversary episode, because World BEYOND War is also a workplace for a small number of busy souls – the WBW staff – who managed to tear themselves away from their daily work to join a podcast interview that looks at this organization from the inside. In episode 56 of this podcast, guest host and WBW advisory board member Maria Santelli (who we met in episode 54) interviews those WBW staff members who were able to get away for an hour of intense, honest conversation about the work we do and why we do it.
I’m tremendously honored to be a part of this staff. These are the people I work with every day, who I zoom and email and slack with constantly, and it’s one of the very best teams I’ve ever been on. From top left in the picture above, here are Gabriel Aguirre, Latin America organizer, Rachel Small, Canada organizer, David Swanson, executive director, Maria Santelli, guest host, Guy Feugap, Africa organizer, Phill Gittins, education director, and myself, technology director. The team members who couldn’t join today are just as crucial to our organization. Not surprisingly, the 6 team members who were able to join this conversation had a whole lot to say.
“War is the worst thing in the world. We are trying to eliminate it.” – David Swanson
“In Cameroon, when the crisis in the English-speaking region started, there was a demonstration that started. They were violent, and the way the government responded to it was violently. As a response to violence, they brought violence, and they said they wanted to bring peace. They wanted to bring peace, and they used violence. As a result today, they have not brought in any peace, and we are now seven years in this war.” – Guy Feugap
“I think the most effective strategy is connected to building large working coalitions around a common objective. Having the ability to manage different interests and different perspectives. Individually, my main strategy is to be insistent and not let apathy or disappointment overcome us.” – Gabriel Aguirre
“The military gets paid reasonably well. So we have to, for the peace movement, provide people with excellent training, be very structured and very planned. But we don’t have the finances that the war system does. Where you work for the war system, you have the job of a soldier. There aren’t many jobs out there that say ‘peacebuilder’” – Phill Gittins
“Most of us here are from the colonizer countries, you know, from the global north, so it’s easy for us not to internalize the true human costs of war. It’s sort of an intellectual exercise. There’s no risk of it being your child, your sibling, your parents. In the world that has been colonized, and invaded, maybe it’s a different story.” – Maria Santelli
“The chapters are in small towns, high school groups, there’s a huge diversity of people organizing in abolitionist ways against war and for peace, and it’s been so incredible to be a part of that.” – Rachel Small
“It is our default nature to cooperate with one another. The military knows this and that’s why military training is so scientifically designed.” – Maria Santelli
“Today we have ten years, but our movement will last as long as it takes to end all wars.” – Gabriel Aguirre
The tenth birthday of World BEYOND War happens to also be the fifth birthday of the World BEYOND War podcast, since our first episode celebrated our fifth birthday in January 2019! But as years pass, we are painfully aware of the challenge of opposing a brutal, dysfunctional, highly profitable global war system that seems, in 2024 at least, to be heading for a crescendo of newly grotesque horrors. When we did the first episode of this podcast five years ago, our goal was to end this ongoing disaster that gives our organization a reason for existing. Let’s hope we accomplish some of our crucial goals before we have to celebrate a 10th podcast birthday at World BEYOND War.