Taking Action for Peace: 50 years in the making

 In anti-nuclear movement, Global Activism, Iran, Iraq, Justice, Middle East, Nuclear Weapons, Peace, Peace Action, peace history, RRW, social movements, War, Youth

Below is our press release about the recently released book on Peace Action. We love to hear about your take on the peace movement over the past 50 years. Tell us how you have been active and how you would like Peace Action to continue for the next 50 years.


(Silver Spring, MD) Peace Action: Past, Present, and Future is a collection of lively essays written by prominent leaders and supporters of Peace Action and its two important predecessors—the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign.

Editors Glen H. Stassen and Lawrence S. Witter survey a half-century of the work in the peace movement by three of the largest and most influential peace organizations in American history. With a foreword by Representative Barbara Lee, this book provides a unique resource for understanding popular protest against nuclear weapons and war in the modern era. It also illuminates the local, national, and international role of Peace Action today.

Peace Action: Past Present and Future is published by Paradigm Publishers, and will be retailing for $16.95 through the publisher and Peace Action.

Glen Harold Stassen, Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary, in addition to Peace Action: Past Present, and Future has edited Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War, and authored Just Peacemaking: Transforming Initiatives for Peace and Justice, Living the Sermon on the Mount, and Kingdom Ethics. He is a long respected activist and scholar and is a board member of Peace Action.

Lawrence S. Wittner, Professor of History at the State University of New York at Albany, is the author of Rebels Against War: The American Peace Movement, 1933-1983, Cold War America: From Hiroshima to Watergate, The Struggle Against the Bomb (an award-winning trilogy), and of numerous other books and articles. He is a prominent historian who serves on the national board of Peace Action.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee was elected to represent California‘s ninth Congressional District in 1998. She is the Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, First Vice-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and a Senior Democratic Whip.

This book is dedicated to the late William Sloane Coffin, Jr. and produced in conjunction with Peace Action’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Contributing authors: Sandy Gottlieb, Monica Green, Marcus Raskin, Andrea Ayvazian, Cora Weiss, Jim Wallis, David Cortright, Jon Rainwater and Kevin Martin, Peace Action Executive Director.

Peace Action, with over 100,000 members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs.

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  • riversong


    In his book, No Bars to Manhood (1970), Daniel Berrigan wrote:

    “We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price. And because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total — but the waging of peace, by our cowardice, is partial. So a whole will and a whole heart and a whole national life bent toward war prevail over the (mere desire for) peace.”

    During the US war against Southeast Asia, hundreds of thousands of Americans began to withold part of all of their federal income taxes. Today, perhaps 10,000 continue to resist paying for the war machine.

    When a significant percentage of the millions of Americans who speak, write, and march for peace find the moral courage to refuse to pay unto Caesar, then the US Imperial War Machine will fall silent.

    As long as those who wish for peace continue to pay for war, there will be endless war. Non-cooperation is the most powerful tool in the non-violent arsenal. Strikes and boycotts have ended various forms of injustice. Refusal to pay the piper will put an end to war. Anything short of that will leave us marching unto eternity.

    – Robert Riversong, war-tax refuser since 1979

  • Kate Harrison

    Henry David Thoreau was a trendsetter for American rebellion against the focus upon the ugly side of earth. He dropped out of society, practicing civil disobedience and refusing to pay taxes to support the wars. He was a key character to the influence of Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, and John Lennon.

    Nuclear weaponry, along with other advances in the technology that can lead us to more domination of the world… can only lead to more wars, more violence and more hatred. Our country, which fell into the hands of the Cold War, can expectedly disintegrate if we start relying more and more on technology, and less on our own abilities as human.
    Not only is our earth, our home, in danger… but our futures are, too.
    If we stay in this economy where we are sending our money to support this constant evolution of technology, these issues will never stop. And, furthermore, if we keep segregating ourselves, no matter how menial the action or thought may be… these issues will never stop. Our actions today will be reflected upon tomorrow.

    Thus, the best idea is a vast wave of people following Thoreau’s footsteps- remove yourself from the mainstream thought and get back in touch with who you are. Afterwards, stand up for what you know is the right decision for not only America, but for the world. One person can make a difference, but a giant wave of people is what changes; is what revolutionizes.
    Remember the two Great Awakenings. Let’s make a third one.

  • Barbra

    I love your reference to Thoreau. On Walden Pond is a book I reread annually to reconnect to a world I have long ago left. I recently took a class in Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University. We analyzed the effectiveness of these two types of movements you are describing: one based on non-participation and one based on organization and mobilization. While I salute those like Thoreau, who refuse to participate in a system so obviously flawed, my loyalty and passion is reserved for the MLK and Ghani who believe that things can change when you demand it. This is not a matter of giving into the system. It is a matter of exposing it to the people and letting them make their judgments. The power of our electorate can be harnessed if we give people the space and information to speak their minds. As you correctly pointed out, as individuals we have no power. As a nation we have the tools to take back our country if only we would.

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