If you become involved in the political process, you can help to determine the shape of the world you live in, both locally and globally.

If you don’t, someone else will do it – and you may not like the result.

Ten Ways to Invest in a More Peaceful World

by Dr Mary-Wynne Ashford MD and Guy Dauncey

First published in Corporate Knights, 2005

  1. Understand the Roots of Conflict

    Conflict is often fed by poverty and injustice, compounded by religious and ethnic differences, and the interference of outside governments. The notion that one country can dominate the planet leads to repeated wars, and undermines the entire system of international law that has developed over the past half century. It is this cooperative system of rules that is our best hope for a stable future. See www.worldfederalistscanada.org

  2. Invest in the Search for Common Ground

    As the old Soviet Union began to open up, thousands of Westerners traveled to see the “Evil Empire” for themselves - and didn’t find it. Instead they met teachers, doctors, and children who wanted peace, not war. War mongering depends on our fear of the other, which depends on ignorance. We need to transform the way the world deals with conflict by building a global network of peacemakers who seek cooperative solutions, celebrating our differences, instead of exploiting them. See www.sfcg.org

  3. Invest in Fair Trade

    Countries that are still developing need the opportunity to build economic stability without the crushing debt load that keeps them down. Globalization that is just could lift them out of poverty, and out of the hopelessness that generates anger, hatred and terrorism. Small businesses that sell fair trade products help farmers and artisans in the developing world to earn a living, and keep the profits from their work in their own communities. See www.transfair.ca

  4. Invest in Ethical Funds

    The world has given or pledged $4 billion dollars in tsunami relief for the five million people who have lost their homes. In 2003, the world spent $25 billion on weapons of war. Just one B-2 Stealth Bomber costs $1 billion. How can we end war, if we continue to invest our savings in companies which produce arms? Ethical investments funds screen out these companies, so it’s easy to invest elsewhere. See www.socialinvestment.ca

  5. Invest in Sustainability

    Throughout human history, people have fought over scarce resources, be it land, food, or energy. As our planet heads further down the road of ecological unsustainability, we will see more such conflicts, until we are all behaving like jealous grub-hunters. By investing in sustainability, on the other hand, cultures can stabilize their economies within the bounds of nature, and lay the foundations for peace. See www.sustreport.org

  6. Invest in Renewable Energy

    So remind me, why did the US go into in Iraq? Was it the dates? The camels? The looming peak in the world’s oil supply threatens to become a constant cause of conflict and war in the 21st century unless we do what global climate change is demanding we do anyway: invest in clean, renewable sources of energy, from wind and solar to green hydrogen. See www.cleanpowerincomefund.com  and www.bcsea.org.

  7. Invest in Global Service

    Viktor Frankl (Prisoner No 119,104 at Auschwitz, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning”) wrote that the most important source of meaning in life is service to others. Young people who travel with Canada World Youth, CUSO, Rotary, or church projects in the developing world come back transformed by their experience. Whether they drill wells or help build a school, they make a meaningful contribution. They often find that their return to consumer culture makes them question what is really important, and work harder for peace. See www.cwy-jcm.org

  8. Invest in Electing More Women

    When more women are elected to positions of power, the governance culture begins to change, becoming less aggressive and more supportive of communities and families. In India and other Asian countries, new laws require that women must fill 30% of the seats on community councils, even though the women are frequently illiterate and inexperienced. Programs to teach them literacy and democratic rights are bringing far reaching changes. See www.wedo.org/5050/nigeria.htm

  9. Invest in Restorative Justice

    The adversarial system of law forces people into greater conflict, rather than building connections between them that lead to healing and peace. A community becomes stronger when it restores the sense that all its members are valued, and belong. First Nations groups are leading in the field of restorative justice, without destroying an offender’s chance for rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. See www.sfu.ca/crj

  10. Invest in Your Own Peace

    Bo Lozoff, an American who teaches meditation in prisons, gives three instructions: Live simply; serve others; and practice a spiritual discipline. If we want to increase the amount of love in the world, the only place to begin is in our own lives. If prisoners on death row can find peace and acceptance by applying Lozoff’s principles, perhaps the rest of us can too. See www.humankindness.org

Dr Mary-Wynne Ashford MD is the author of Enough Blood Shed: 101 Solutions to Violence, Terror and War (New Society Publishers, 2006). She is past Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Guy Dauncey is author of Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change (New Society Publishers, 2001). They are Co-Directors of The Solutions Project. (www.earthfuture.com/solutionsproject).