Volunteer Spotlight: Gar Smith

Each month, we share the stories of World BEYOND War volunteers around the world. Want to volunteer with World BEYOND War? Email greta@worldbeyondwar.org.

Scarf Gar Smith


Berkeley, California, USA

How did you get involved with anti-war activism and World BEYOND War (WBW)?

During the Sixties, I was arrested for stopping a napalm truck that was delivering bombs to a Pentagon base near San Francisco. I acted alone but I had help — from the driver who decided to hit the brakes and from the young soldier who warned that he’d have to shoot me but didn’t pull the trigger. I learned an important lesson about the power of nonviolence: Peace is possible when you manage to touch an opponent’s common humanity. I became involved with World BEYOND War after meeting David Swanson at an anti-war event at Berkeley’s Unitarian Fellowship Hall.

What kinds of volunteer activities do you help with?

As WBW’s volunteer Secretary, I solicit topic suggestions for monthly meetings from other board members and staff. As the author of two anti-war/anti-nuclear books, I’ve given radio, TV, and in-person presentations on WBW’s behalf and have represented WBW at pro-peace demonstrations. I regularly feature WBW articles on the website of my own organization, Environmentalists Against War. I also enjoy coming up with slogans for WBW’s growing selection of anti-war T-shirts. (One favorite: “A World War Cannot Be Won But a Warned World Can Become One”.)

What’s your top recommendation for someone who wants to get involved with anti-war activism and WBW?

WBW’s extraordinary and constantly morphing website offers a trove of tools for current and fledgling peace activists. Engage online to discover scores of essential articles, books, campaigns, fact sheets, interactive maps, online courses, petitions, videos, and webinars on Education, Activism, and Events. Read WBW’s “A Global Security System: An Alternative to War,” dive into WBW’s articles debunking the myths and lies that sustain wars, learn about the latest conferences and nonviolent actions — both local and global.

What keeps you inspired to advocate for change?

As the world’s largest military power, the US has racked up a history of foreign wars, invasions, and overthrows that is unequaled. Today, more Americans are questioning the assumption that our country is “a beacon of freedom” or “the one indispensable nation.” Washington’s status as a global superpower is waning, leading to the growing danger of conflicts with “economic rivals” Russia and China. Meanwhile, climate change threatens to cause more deaths, destruction and displacement than global wars. Even the Pentagon has conceded that it cannot survive the impacts of global warming. The only plan for survival has to be one that involves cooperation between all nations — not conflict and competition. This new plan for common survival has now become an imperative for humanity and World BEYOND War is on the right path. WBW’s Declaration of Peace has been signed by hundreds of supporters in 193 countries and WBW now has 22 chapters in 12 countries and 93 global affiliates.

How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your activism?

Like everyone else who draws breath, the pandemic has constrained my activism. On the positive side, the global spread of deadly diseases has focused the world’s attention on another “common threat” that can only be met by shared, international cooperation. Mass marches used to be a celebratory expression of activism. Now protests are fewer, smaller, and guarded. Fortunately, global computer networks now make it possible to organize demonstrations, boycotts, and conferences using a keyboard or a Smartphone. WBW has put these tools to good use. As a member of the WBW board, I have enjoyed collaborating — “live and online”— with leading members of the global peace community in simultaneous sessions streaming in from the US, Canada, Bolivia, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Ukraine. WBW’s activism and creativity — along with its outreach and inclusion — continues to give me hope.

Posted August 23, 2022.

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