Practical actions for a more peaceful and just world

By Taylor O’Connor |

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Photo by Melany Rochester on Unsplash

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can quietly become a power no government can suppress, a power than can transform the world.” — Howard Zinn

Those who work for peace and justice have an extensive array of approaches available to them. Based on my experiences during the past decade working with grassroots peacebuilders around the world, I’ve mapped hundreds of actions for peace and organized the main ones into this list of 198.

Actions are organized under five main domains: 1) a peaceful life, 2) peaceful relationships, 3) peace in spaces and places, 4) a culture of peace, and 5) peace infrastructure. …

A user-friendly guide

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Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

“The key to complexity is finding the elegant beauty of simplicity.” — John Paul Lederach

I remember the first conflict analysis I did, some ten or so years ago. I was just getting into consulting in the NGO world, looking to ‘get my foot in the door’ so to speak.

I did well with the CV, and the interview, and the pretending I knew what I was talking about part. Hired. Contracted. Now came the part of figuring out how the hell I was gonna do this thing!

So I downloaded a bunch of PDF guides for conducting conflict analyses. Each was massive, like 100+ pages sometimes! Each had their own approach and came with their own unique set of technical terms. And in the end I came up with a report as massive, complex, and confusing as the guides I was following. …

To transform conflict in your family, workplace, community, and beyond

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“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict.” — Dorothy Thompson

I had this job once. This is some years back now. I didn’t know anybody there, but immediately upon walking into the office on my first day, I could sense something was off. I couldn’t pinpoint it. This was a feeling. I felt it in my gut.

After a week on the job, I learned the following:

  • Person A didn’t talk to person B. They had some longstanding personal issues that predated them even working together.
  • Person B was the boss, and for her short temper, everyone was afraid of her, except person C, who would lash out whenever he felt person B was overstepping her authority. …

With lessons learned from the past 200+ years of peace activism

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Women’s Peace Conference in The Hague, 1915. Photo on Wikimedia Commons

“The story of the human race is characterized by efforts to get along much more than by violent disputes, although it’s the latter that make the history books. Violence is actually exceptional. The human race has survived because of cooperation, not aggression.” — Gerard Vanderhaar

They say that if you don’t know your history, you’re bound to repeat it. Well, I figure that for those peace activists, peacebuilders, social justice advocates, and the like, if we don’t know the history of movements for peace and justice, then we are bound to repeat mistakes of old.

I’ve been working in the field of peacebuilding for over a decade now, and to be honest with you, I never learned this history. And I can’t think of anyone I know who really knows about it. They don’t teach it to us in school. It isn’t celebrated in movies. Those of us working in peacebuilding or peace activism don’t get a briefer on it. But I find it to be so critically important. So I did a little research to educate myself, and what I found was amazing! …

Create your strategy to build a more peaceful and just world

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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

“To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” — Sun Tzu

This is for all of you dreamers and idealists out there, you activists and selfless souls dedicating your life to a cause. I hate to do this, but I’m gonna rain on your parade for a minute here. It’s a little tough love, but I’m here to help.

Have you ever had the fleeting thought that a lot of what you are involved in might be a waste of time? And money? …

20 podcasts to help you find creative ways to build peace and justice in the world

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Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

“Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which people transform the world.” — Paulo Freire

Working for peace and justice can be stressful. And at times, it is an isolating endeavor. One must not only be thinking deeply to understand the causes of the issues you are engaging with, but also think of creative ways to transform them and take action. The issues we’re dealing with are complex and dynamic, and there is often little guidance available to help us decide our next move.

Often overlooked, an excellent resource that can help you to learn creative approaches to build peace and justice is podcasts. And while many podcasts discuss current events, few talk about strategies for change. But they are out there. You have to know where to find them. I’m a big fan of podcasts and have been collecting my favorites on the topic of building peace and justice for some years now. …

And how we can apply their lessons.

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Military police on the streets of Philidelphia, PA (1 July 2020). Photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash

The 2020 Republican National Convention last week was painful. It was hard to watch the racist filth and lies spewing forth speaker after speaker, all the while witnessing the violence produced by Trumpian rhetoric play out in the streets of America.

It got me reflecting on the nature of violence, particularly state violence. I feel like… that to dismantle the systems the Trump administration has set in place to create chaos and with it the narratives that justify his war on the American people, we need to take a close look into the nature of state violence itself.

And what better way to do that than with quotes. So I scoured my quote database and pulled some nuggets together that I hope will help those of you out there working to dismantle systems and policies that produce state violence and to deconstruct surrounding narratives that justify it. These were inspired by the American context, but are relevant to any context struggling against authoritarian leaders and the state violence they employ to hold onto power and enrich themselves. …

When we develop our knowledge about racial justice heroes like these, our efforts for justice today are strengthened

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Photo by Mattia Faloretti on Unsplash

“It is the curse of minorities in this power-worshipping world that either from fear or from an uncertain policy of expedience they distrust their own standards and hesitate to give voice to their deeper convictions, submitting supinely to estimates and characterizations of themselves as handed down by a not unprejudiced dominant majority.” — Anna Julia Cooper (A Voice from the South, 1892)

It was a typical day, early spring in Memphis, when a mob dragged Thomas Moss and two other men from their jail cell and put them to a slow, painful death much to the entertainment of the crowd that had gathered. …

Resources for peace and justice series

Embrace the power of art to transform the world.

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Photo by Stephanie Valencia on Unsplash

“Art should cause violence to be set aside and it is only art that can accomplish this.” — Leo Tolstoy

I remember staring up at the immense mural painting, at the figures in it towering above me. I could feel the agony and desperation on their faces, the chaos, the horror… it was chilling. It has been over fifteen years now, but the impression the painting left on me still lingers. I was at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, and this was Guernica by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso.

Picasso was in Paris when the massacre at Guernica took place. It was two years before the outbreak of WWII, and the Nazis were looking for sites to test their growing arsenal. The Spanish Civil War was raging, and soon-to-be dictator Francisco Franco arranged for the Nazi Condor Legion to bomb the small town of Guernica in the north of Spain. It was daytime, and the men Franco fought against were known to be away from town. The central market was filled mostly with women and children. There were hundreds of casualties. The message Franco wanted to send was loud and clear: “if you oppose me, I will murder your families.” …

Peace and Justice Quote Series

By Taylor O’Connor |

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

So basically, I’m a peace nerd who has been collecting quotes on peace and justice for years. I find quotes like this to be a great source of inspiration, not only in my work for peace and justice, but also just generally in my life.

In my collection, I actually have hundreds of quotes on peace. However, many of them are a bit generic. So I sifted through to pick out those quotes that offer a unique perspective on peace to ensure they won’t only inspire, but they might just expand your mind a bit.

I did my best to bring in diverse perspectives, so you’ll see quotes from all around the world from all kinds of people past and present. There will be many you have never heard of. And I’ve only included one quote per author. …


Taylor O'Connor

Peacebuilder, idealist, dreamer.

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