Ep. 031: Dr. Scilla Elworthy: A Business Plan for Peace
In this episode, Susan speaks with Scilla Elworthy Ph D. three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Oxford Research Group, which she founded in 1982 to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics. She founded Peace Direct in 2002 to fund, promote and learn from local peace-builders in conflict areas. Dr. Elworthy has been an adviser to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson in setting up “The Elders”, an independent body of global leaders working for peace, and her TED talk on nonviolence has been viewed 1,400,000 times. Her latest book, The Business Plan for Peace is a clear and very readable how-to to create a world beyond war. Scilla also co-founded Rising Women, Rising World in 2013 and Femme Q in 2016 to establish the qualities of feminine intelligence that are so needed by both women and men to build a safer world. For Susan, this guest, more clearly than anyone, links to her passion of connecting gender and peace. Susan asks Scilla to speak to “women worldwide” about why it’s time to step into our leadership on the issue of war and peace. “We have research-based evidence that indicates that preventing war is not difficult” Scilla tells us. “We know what we can do and we know what we shouldn’t be doing in order to get war to stop--we just haven’t done it. The first thing we need to stop doing is spending $1,686 billion annually on militarization. $30 billion would eliminate starvation worldwide and $10 billion would bring clean water to every child on the planet. Many people haven’t noticed how enormous this spending really is and how much it is costing society.” Scilla describes how, in the last 20 years or so grassroots peacebuilding organizations worldwide working within their local communities have grown from 350 to 1600! She tells the story of a woman named Gulalai Ismail who lives in Northwest Pakistan –perhaps the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman, and the same place from whence came Malala. Through her conflict prevention efforts, Gulalai has been able to dissuade hundreds of suicide bombers from their mission. In the interview, Scilla observes that the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council are also the biggest arms sellers in the world. This is an irony that we all need to be more aware of. Susan and Scilla talk about the amazing example of Leymah Gbowee and her Nobel award winning work to end the civil war in Liberia. Dr. Elworthy has gotten to know many grassroots organizations globally who are working to prevent war in their regions and has found that the organizations that are woman-run are having a greater impact. Dr. Elsworthy provides an example of a violent episode where a crowd was about to lynch someone. A trained woman would enter the mob and raise her hand, palm forward and shout, “Stop this. Go home. Your mother would be ashamed of you.” There would be complete silence and the crowd would disband. Dr. Elworthy does not use the word “patriarchy” much because she believes that both men and women are capable of embodying what she calls “masculine intelligence” and “feminine intelligence.” The reality of the history of the last 3000 years is that most, if not all, major decisions have been made using masculine intelligence and what we are left with is a series of wars. Scilla talks about her early childhood and the seeds that were planted in her to become a peacebuilder, as well as the inner critic she has had to face to do her best work. She advises that, when you combine what breaks your heart with what you’re skilled at, you will be most effective and ultimately full of hope and joy instead of anguish and anxiety. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is the most joyful person she has ever met and he has experienced some of the most brutal things in the world. Please listen to this amazing episode. You will not be disappointed.