May 19, 2024. I joined over 90 people coming from different parts of the world who got together for a dialogue, an interchange, on a dire prospect facing humanity- the threat that another world war, a third world war might be looming ahead. It was the first in a series being organized by the World Humanist Forum to look at an alarming development that keeps on growing larger.

With all the armed conflicts and wars dangerously escalating in different parts of the world today…

With the power elites not doing much to end the danger, the violence and the misery unleashed by the wars and military conflicts growing bigger, placing the lives of thousands of people at stake…

It would seem that it may have to be us– you, me– us regular people, people who just simply want to be able to live in peace without having to be afraid of an ambush, an armed encounter, or an all-out war, who can do something.

Hence, the question– What can people do to avoid the world war?– the first in a series of conversations planned and organized by the World Humanist Forum.

There were two guests:

> Rafael de la Rubia, the coordinator of the 3rd World March for Peace and Non-violence

> Gerardo Femina, activist from Prague involved with Europe for Peace

The forum’s hosts:

> Gaelle Smedts, World Humanist Forum

> Pia Figueroa, Pressenza

Gaelle Smedts opening spelled out why this was indeed a grave matter facing all of humanity today. Pia Figueroa introduced the two guests invited to share their thoughts, feelings and actions in facing this theme of peace and the need for non-violence to flourish so that all human beings can indeed live safely and well on this planet.

Pia Figueroa proposed that we meditate on the question: What can we do to increase peace among human beings, people we are close to? What can we contribute, what could peoples do to avoid a world war?

I listened to Rafael de la Rubia share why a third World March for Peace and Non-violence is being planned and organized to cross the globe starting this October 2, International Day of Non-violence. A team of peace activists preparing once again to march across the continents to bring home the need to do something to help end violence. not just the physical ones like wars and armed conflicts, but all forms of violence, be it economic or psychological.

I listened to Gerardo Femina as he recounted how peaceful protests and initiatives by people in the past, asking for peace to prevail, were never given media attention as the dictatorships were controlling the media.

They shared their experiences and their hopes and plans, what their organizations were planning, asking for and doing. They talked about how it would be good to break the repetitiveness and mechanicity of day to day living, connect with something profound, connect with others in concerted actions conceived for the good and the well-being of all.

What struck home for me from the conversation?

It was the image that, aside from collective actions being planned and carried out by organizations like those of Rafa and Gerardo that peace lovers and activists can join and support, we could do something on a personal front to open the future. Yes, even personally, we can, and even kids can, contribute towards a world without wars and violence.

What can I do to help prevent a world war? Something that sounds so grandiose, and seemingly out of reach? Can I do something?

Yes. I, you, we all could do something for peace and non violence to grow as every little act helps.

In our hearts, dealing with whatever anger and hatred lurks there– peace in our hearts instead of anger and the desire for vengeance. Little acts to help peace and harmony grow in our families, with our neighbors and in our communities and, in our workplaces. Yes, the little acts we all can do there can go a long way towards building a future of peace and non-violence.

Yes, we can meditate and do little acts on a personal level. But these can act on a social level as well as we can reach out and serve to inspire and influence others, thanks to the social networks and technological advances that allows us to communicate more easily these days.

Listening to the conversation, some of the lyrics of a song that was an anthem during the world-famous Woodstock Festival came to mind. The song was Peace will Come by Melanie Safka who sang “There’s a chance peace will come, In your life…According to plan, According to man…”

In 1969, America was deeply into the controversial Vietnam War. It was a conflict many young people and the civil rights movement were strongly against. Woodstock was a chance for thousands of young people struggling with the vagaries of modern life to escape into music and community while spreading a message of unity and peace.

The song expresses the deep aspirations of peace that lurked in the hearts of the youth at that times and still lurks in the hearts of human beings to this day.

To watch the full video of the first session:

To contact Gaëlle Smedts or the World Humanist Forum directly:

To listen to the  Melanie Safka song, Peace Will Come: