How do we help peace spread?

A Congolese woman looks out of her hotel window to see a group in the street starting a loud protest, while a large number of soldiers advances on them.

Instead of staying inside and watching, she walks out into the street, alone. She places herself right in the middle of the street, between the two sides.

From behind her come the angry shouts of the mass of townspeople. In front, she sees the well-armed soldiers drawing ever closer.

With calm perseverance and fearlessness, the woman begins to talk to both sides. She listens carefully, and reminds them of their real interests in this situation. Will they hear?

The discussion starts off seemingly about to explode with all the animosity and insults being hurled back and forth. But with time, the situation cools.

Both groups start to understand that their interests can be served without violence. Eventually, incredibly, the townspeople and the soldiers disperse.

This is a true story. It is one of an endless number of examples of nonviolence in support of peace.

Did you know that skills like these exist and are used every day around the world? How many violent situations are avoided (and don’t become news)? How would you react in a conflict situation that you saw escalating?

In 2019, after years of reflection, research, and writing, CFSC’s book Are We Done Fighting? Building Understanding in a World of Hate and Division was published.

Right now in many places hate is on the rise. That’s deeply disturbing, but it isn’t inevitable. Responding strategically and with care is vital if we’re going to turn the tide. How can we do it?

It turns out that a lot of our “common sense” approaches don’t work. But this book, full of carefully collected research and practical tips about what does work, is poised to be a game-changer. Discover your power, and the surprising ways you can use it.

There’s no one single secret to building peace. And there are never any guarantees that our efforts will be successful. There are, however, many techniques that we can learn to use if we’re aware that they exist and if we don’t just imagine, incorrectly, they must be impossible.

Are We Done Fighting? offers short chapters full of tips, exercises, and plenty of evidence to explain what’s happening when violence and hate rise, and when peace does.

Find out more on the book’s website

Read an interview with CFSC’s Peace Program Coordinator Matt Legge about the book.

Read the ongoing blog Are We Done Fighting? that Matt writes over at Psychology Today.