Beyond War Foundation History
Beyond War (1982-1991)
Beyond War began in 1982 as a grassroots response to the threat of nuclear war. Early efforts focused on educating about the crisis. During 1982, workers showed "The Last Epidemic," (a film about the effect of a one megaton hydrogen bomb dropped on San Francisco) to hundreds of people in homes, churches, synagogues and clubs. People began to understand the consequences of nuclear war, but the need to communicate hope became apparent.
There was a growing realization that nuclear weapons are only a symptom of the real problem, which is our willingness to use war to resolve inevitable conflicts. The movement embarked on a three-month project to produce a concise statement about a new way of thinking which would address the root of the problem. Thus the Beyond War Statement evolved and became the cornerstone of the movement.
With the basic philosophy of the movement defined, the Beyond War Orientation (a three-part course) was developed as a way to communicate the nature of both the crisis and the solution. The movement grew significantly when 2,700 women from 34 states and eight foreign countries came together for a women's convocation in November 1983 to call for the end of war. The success of this first convocation inspired others, so that in the fall of 1984, 6,000 women came together at eleven symposia throughout the western United States. These women launched the first Beyond War Ad Campaign, which published educational advertisements in six major newspapers and the California edition of TIME magazine.
On November 11, 1984, 2,000 men gathered in San Francisco for an Armistice Day convocation entitled "Who Speaks for Earth?: The New Warrior." Acknowledging that men's strength, valor and courage have always insured individual and group survival, the men challenged themselves to unite and work cooperatively to insure the survival of the whole planet.
Later in November, eleven Silicon Valley executives traveled to the Soviet Union and Hungary to meet with their counterparts as part of the Beyond War International Task Force. The goal of this effort was to discover how Americans could work together with Soviets, given the two very different systems they lived in.
The Beyond War Award was created in 1983 to honor the great efforts of humankind as it moves to build a world beyond war. The award attracted national and international attention through the nominating and selection process. Many distinguished persons served on the selection committee (Jonas Salk, Betty Bumpers, Carl Sagan, Andrew Young, Rosalyn Carter, etc.)
In December 1983, the first award was presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for their pastoral letter on peace. In 1984, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War received the second award. It was presented to the co-founders, Dr. Lown of the US and Dr. Chazov of the USSR, simultaneously through the use of a live satellite teleconference link or "spacebridge" between Moscow and San Francisco. This historic event was viewed live by over 75,000 people. Over 100 million Soviets subsequently saw the televised videotape.
On January 29, 1985, over 80 ambassadors to the United Nations attended a presentation on Nuclear Winter. American astronomer Carl Sagan and Soviet physicist Sergei Kapitsa each communicated that even a limited nuclear exchange would threaten life on the entire planet, with no country exempt from the effect. The event was sponsored by Beyond War and twelve ambassadors who had previously heard Dr. Sagan speak on this crucial subject. By this time, over 15,000 people were actively communicating the Beyond War idea in twelve targeted states (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and California).
There was start-up activity in ten other states. As of March, 1985, there were 400 dedicated volunteers working full-time on Beyond War.
Here is a chronology of significant events in the movement from early 1985 on:
February - April: trip to USSR finalizes plan to produce joint book by October 1987, Soviet authors come to Ben Lomond, CA
July - January 1988: Beyond War in lowa and New Hampshire focuses on influencing environment of presidential candidates; Iowa Project Office, $160,000 newspaper ad campaign
September - October: Focused Outreach Week, culminated by National Meeting in late October to finish Central America module, the booklet Understanding Central America published, beginning of Soviet module
October: The book Breakthrough published in US and USSR
December: 5th Beyond War Award to the 20,000 current and returned Peace corps volunteers, downlinks around US
1989 and 1990:
September, 1990: Last movement-wide satellite broadcast held to discuss Board's current thinking about the organization's underlying premise that humans live in an interconnected and interdependent system in which all life has value and to discuss how we could best educate about this.
Early History Leading to Beyond War
The Foundation for Global Community traces its origin back more than eighty years. Working in Canada at the turn of the century, Dr. Henry Burton Sharman, theologian and scientist from the University of Chicago, sought to unify the disciplines of science and religion in the belief that each searched for the same universal truths about reality. To explore these issues, he invited groups of interested college students and professors to participate in six-week seminars in the Canadian wilderness each summer.
Dr. Harry Rathbun, a Stanford law and business professor, and his wife Emilia, participants in Sharman's seminars, brought the studies to the western United States in the late 1930's. By the late 1940's it was apparent that a permanent facility would aid the studies. Property was purchased and a lodge built in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. Here people of all philosophical and religious beliefs could come to study and discuss critical issues in an atmosphere of beauty and quiet. In 1949, Sequoia Seminar Foundation was incorporated.
In 1962, women affiliated with Sequoia Seminar decided to take an initiative in the world to seek a higher purpose for life. They were motivated by the uncertainty of the future for the children and the precariousness of all life. This was the time of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile crisis, and talk of building backyard bomb shelters. By 1964, men and women were writing curricula, leading discussion groups and seminars, and planning and giving presentations for the public. Some of these programs were called "The Quest for Meaning," "Challenge to Change," and "The Challenge of Time."
In 1971, these activities were incorporated as Creative Initiative Foundation. During the 1970's, in addition to its regular courses and seminars, Creative Initiative addressed the issues of drug abuse, environmental concerns, the effects of violence on television, the need for energy conservation, the depletion of natural resources, and the dangers of pollution from toxic chemicals and long-term radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants. The focus of all these activities was always understanding and communicating the process by which people become mature, responsible human beings. All the educational endeavors challenged people to become informed, to educate others, and to take action in their own lives.
In 1981, the Cold War was at its height and there was talk about America's ability to fight and win a nuclear war and adding Pershing and cruise missiles to Europe. The growing alarm about the consequences of nuclear devastation was starkly depicted in the film "The Last Epidemic." A series of dialogues in 1982 convinced the people of Creative Initiative that survival in the nuclear age was the greatest problem facing humanity and that the immensity of the the US and Soviet nuclear arsenals was not comprehended by the public. Consequently, all courses, seminars, and projects were terminated so that the Creative Initiative community, numbering approximately 1,000, could focus full attention on this most pressing problem.
Out of this commitment, the Beyond War movement developed. Beyond War eventually involved more than 20,000 people around the world, sponsored an annual Beyond War Award, and reached untold millions with its message. With the end of the Cold War, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and other hopeful signs of change, Beyond War enlarged its focus and, in 1991, became Foundation for Global Community.