Presented here, for comment and discussion, are the five developmental stages toward Active Peace.

[0. 'Surface' -- conformity without question. Unconsciousness, unawareness, denial, or opposition to issues of social conscience involving violence, oppression, subjugation.]

1. 'Aquiescence' -- You know there is something wrong, but take no action, or it doesn't affect how you live your life. Your response is to remain 'quiet' to others and within yourself. "Things have always been this way ... there is nothing that I or anyone else can do to change them."

2. 'Pacifism' -- You are no longer quiet within yourself. Your discomfiture with violence, oppression, etc. begins to affect how you live your life. You might turn the other cheek in a fight, for example. You are likely to witness to others (and to yourself) that organized violence and oppression is wrong.

3. 'Passive Nonviolent Resistance' -- Many or all of your private decisions become influenced or governed by conscience. 'Conscientious objection'. You make changes in your own behavior by reasons of conscience but are not necessarily social about it, or don't publicly, systematically cite your actions or your reasons for them. It's also akin to the concept of 'standing aside' or of 'abstaining' on a vote.

4. 'Active Nonviolent Resistance' -- You take social leadership in attempting to thwart the forces of violence, oppression, and subjugation, or join with others who do, publicly, and attempting to spread the word about the initiative and get others to take part.

5. The triad of 'Active Peace':

5A. 'Peacemaking' -- the transformation of conflicts away from violence, oppression, and subjugation by social and political means. Mediation, conferencing, circles peacemaking, and kindred 'encounter' forms. 'Workshop' methods such as AVP can also be effective. There are hybrid forms (encounter/workshop) such as HROC, a spinoff of AVP in Rwanda.

5B. 'Peacekeeping' -- Nonviolent Accompaniment. Need not be organized or public in its motivations, but is more effective when it is done publicly, and the reasons are publicized. [Not what the UN does with guns and uniforms, though they call it that.] Most well-know exemplars are Nonviolent Peaceforce, the proposed Canadian Civilian Peace Service, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Muslim Peacemaker Teams. "Why are the missiles called peacekeepers when they're aimed to kill?" -- Tracy Chapman

5C. 'Peacebuilding' -- Sustainable Development -- providing for human needs so that the associated conflicts involving sustaining life (land, water, food, health care, etc.) are ameliorated or eliminated. Fair Trade as opposed to '"free trade". Local economic initiatives. Local alternative currencies. Barter economies. 'Organic' agriculture. Methods of redistribution of wealth, including economic stimuli, may be useful on the way to more synergistic outcomes where the weal is more naturally held and distributed in common.

One interesting aspect of the five-stages theory seems to be that the next one only becomes visible or understandable to you once you have attained the one before. In this way, each stage represents a 'perspective', both individual and social, and social 'organisms' can be said to progress through the stages as well as individual ones.

Another dynamic is that, for various psychological reasons I won't go into here, people or social groups can vary in how they move through the stages, and sometimes regress. However, my understanding is that one one has a firm purchase on a stage, retrogression becomes much more unlikely. Human beings and social organizations are very complex, however, so there is still much more to learn about how to bring everyone into higher stages. Education about these things is both inevitable and necessary.

Of the five stages, only Active Peace -- stage V -- can accurately be interpreted as 'the ocean of light flowing over the ocean of darkness.'

Congratulations and acknowledgements go out to Gray Cox for first writing about Active Peace, and to Johan Galtung for his work in refining the development of the triadic theory -- peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding. Incidentally, many peace studies and conflict transformation programs throughout the world use these terms interchangably, and therefore inaccurately and misleadingly. Of those who do, the ones most likely to do so are those influenced by governmental or corporatist entities and agents.

It is crucial that these terminologies be used accurately and consistently in order that humanity as a whole might progress toward Active Peace -- or alternatively (as some see it) recover Active Peace as our natural state.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Email to:
John Woolman College (of Active Peace) [JWC]
c/o John Wilmerding
217 High Street, Brattleboro, VT, USA 05301-6073
01-802-254-2826 Skype/Yahoo: johnwilmerding
"... where Quakers and revolutionaries join for life ..."
-- Laura Nyro, from 'New York Tendaberry', 1969
To join (or leave) the College's email list, send an
email message to or to, including your first & last name, your
email address, and your state, province or country of

Views: 208

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Thankyou John,
I wish i had read this before posting a response to Deepak Chopra's memo to President Elect Obama on the newly formed Mind Power Masters forum.
I argiued that Peace needs a change in consciousness but really did know how to define this.
Thanks again


no regrets
Silva Life System - No Regrets
Thank you John. As long as there is so much fear spread over the media peace will be hard fought but I still beleive love can outshine fear at least at the personal level and as a dream at a world level one person at a time . I watched the bombing of palistine today and my heart and soul weeped.Grace LIGHT and a quiet mind to all piliero
In light of this new clarity, perhaps we should add a few additional answers to the question posed in the settings options on our iPeace homepage. To the question "When it comes to peace, how would you describe yourself?" The current options are:
I am a born activist,
I am a born again activist,
I am a pacifist,
I am just a peaceful person,
I feel the pain in the world.

How about adding the following options:
I am a peace maker
I am a peace keeper
I am a peace builder

thanks for categorizing the continuum of active peace. my understanding of peace is it is never passive. what we experience when we are passive is a disconnect with the spirit. i am at 5C now. what i have realised is that one can't be a peace activist without being peaceful under all circumstances. that comes with always being connected to the peace at the core naturally. it takes practise. i am still working to be totally non-reactive and completely peaceful.
Mohandos Gandhi said, "If I did not feel the presence of "God" within me, I see so much misery and disappointment every day, that I would be a raving maniac...we should get our peace not from the external environment, but from within us".

The challenge is to maintain that inner peace at all times, translate that into right action and right livelihood, and to export it to others and the environment.

With much love and care,

Mike Morin
hmm, been active on the internet for a while, but mostly been busy to bring the light on to injustice and evil sides of the world. But felt for just a couple of days ago, that I really have to DO something FOR peace, not only speak about all the problems, and sent off maybe 10 emails to different organisations, to work as a volunteer....

I like the list! :)
This is a great list and it will help a lot of people understand their own place in the movement and/or world. I have to admit it is rather exciting for me, who considers myself a pacifist, to learn that I am more of a stage 3 or 4 Nonviolent Resistor :) I think i am one of the folks who waver back and forth or regress even. I was certainly more active in younger years, though my actions are changing now and I feel more ready to enter the 5th stage...
I wonder tho about this point: "that the next one only becomes visible or understandable to you once you have attained the one before. In this way, each stage represents a 'perspective', both individual and social, and social 'organisms' can be said to progress through the stages as well as individual ones."
I think i do understand the perspective that would take one to 5C, I just have not attained that higher level yet. For many of us, we are limited by factors in our own lives, but the lower levels need to be strong and bigger to support the highest point, right? I do not think there is any shame in remaining at pacifist or passive resistor, etc...I also would venture to say that most folks on sites and in organizations such as this are peacemakers already.
besieged Gaza Strip has been suffering from the fiercest and the most violent Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people since seven days.

The number of victims has surpassed four hundred martyrs, more than two thousand injured, with a huge lack of food and medicine, full destruction of homes, and targeting medical bodies, ambulance crews, and families who took shelter in mosques and International Humanitarian Centers.

Therefore, we call for taking the following measures:

Stop the aggressions on Gaza Strip, lift the blockage on the people, open the crossings, and provide International guarantees not to attack it again.
Fight against the humanitarian disaster that the people of Gaza are suffering from and stop the genocide practiced by Israel.
· Condemn the brutal Israeli practices against the Palestinian people and punish it.
Peacebuilding. funny, looks looks like I have to add it to the dictionary on my computer...


there, no more red underline. hmmm... the concept is right on! thank you for your post
Dear John,

Many thanks for your message. I like your wind up of the stage V: "the ocean of light flowing over the ocean of darkness". I will back you for V C Peacebuilding as it is what I have been doing and promoting in my very active professional life.

Have a healthy and peaceful New Year.

Its very intresting and constructive .
I appreciate your efforts

With regards

A máquina de guerra americana já assassinou John,Bob Kenned, King e outros. Possa Deus proteger Obama para não ter o mesmo fim de homens que queriam a PAZ.
Beatriz Helena.


Latest Activity

© 2020   Created by David Califa. Managed by Eyal Raviv.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service