W A V E

1997 Message to WAVE

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have a life, a world, with less violence, where children grow up happy and responsible, where parents love children and children love their parents, without fear. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the world gave up violence as a way of influencing others,whether on the street, in the home, or between nations. I think such a world can be created – and the first step is to explore what is needed to change the violence inside all of us, then to address that issue. Should we join in forming a movement to create such a world?

First of all may I say how wonderful it is to be in contact with each one of you. Every one of you has enriched my life in some way, and I want you to know I value that. I suppose my first step on this path happened a few years ago with a horrendous child cruelty case in London. A little girl had been murdered by her parents. Before she died she had been systematically tortured – over a period of years. I could not, and cannot, lose the image, the sense, of that little girl's life from my mind. I decided then I was not willing to live in a world where such things occur to defenceless children, while I do nothing about it.

My business experience, where I lead international companies into creating new, effective strategies, overcoming seemingly insuperable obstacles, has led me to believe that business skills can be used to help address this issue. My experience as a psychologist has led me to have enough of a sense of some of the root causes of violence to believe we can do something about them. And some past experience in political campaigning has led me to believe people can achieve results – if (a) they are truly committed, and (b) they take the trouble to find out what works and what doesn't in influencing decision-makers. So – I believe it is possible to change the world. I realise it may take 100 or even 500 years; that does not make it less worthwhile. We are talking of the lives of billions of children.

At the beginning of this year, (1996) I decided I could wait no longer. I decided to start doing something. My problem was I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to rush into action, and spend years doing something irrelevant. I realised I needed more knowledge. I began to identify sources of know-how on the subject, to speak to people who knew something about it, and to read. Soon after I decided to contact experts all over the world, who had researched the causes of violent behaviour, and ask them what was missing – what needs to be put in place such that all the knowledge there is about this subject all around the world can be converted into real, effective, practical action – action which actually changes things. I thought this might either show a consensus about what is missing (and the next step might be to act on that), or show different or opposing viewpoints – in which case the next step might be to find ways to resolve the differences (e.g. more research) or to call an international conference to discuss these different viewpoints, with the aim of producing a common agenda for action.

In all of this my aim has been that a programme for action should come into being, but – vitally – that the programme should be soundly grounded in facts, in the reality we are dealing with. I know it is rigorous attention to this which makes me effective in restructuring the profitability of businesses. So if, for example, if it turned out that people become violent because of a chemical imbalance in their brain, treating them as wicked is unlikely to change their behaviour; if it is caused by specific childhood experiences, training future generations of parents might (help) change future behaviour – etc.

I soon discovered that there are other programmes already in action. The New England Quaker who is unable to join us at present introduced me to some very successful "Alternatives to Violence" projects which are being run in prisons in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand. Sten (Slicer) Odman wrote to tell me of very successful AV programmes in Sweden, which are spreading elsewhere. Apparently Sten helped to set up one of these programmes, and may write to you with more details.

In England the Gulbenkian Foundation set up a Commission which has already reviewed world literature on the subject, and made a series of recommendations for action. Their report is excellent, if a little too UK oriented for you guys. Inevitably their recommendations are being ignored.

I am currently talking to members of the Commission about how we can have their proposals put into practice, and am hoping to assist with that.

I have been flooded with references on the subject, with many different perspectives being offered – all with some apparent validity. Currently I am surrounded by unread literature, names of experts I don't have time to talk to, invitations to participate in courses on parenting, alternatives to violence, criminal psychology, family therapy, all of which I'd love to do if only I can find the time. To make order out of the chaos beginning to multiply around me I need administative support and organisation – so I've advertised for help I've had nine applications to help with the admin – some of whom may join this worldwide partnership regardless of whether I can put them on a proper payroll or not.

Once I have someone to help with the administration, I hope to create an extensive list of people with know-how on this subject and then ask researchers in my company to 'phone experts around the world, asking for their opinions, the focus still being on what action is needed. Perhaps we can even interest them in joining with us?

I'm also talking to one or two charities and foundations who may offer advice, support, introductions, assistance. Tho' almost everywhere in the UK I find the same problem – everyone trying to do anything worth while is spending most of their time trying to get money, rather than doing what they are actually good at.

The greatest source of inspiration these past 2 years has been the new friends I have made – yes, all of you. I know I must not be stopped by the feeling that I'm alone, or that it's all hopeless, and you have each been a source of new ideas, new insights, and deeper understanding.

Thank you.

Love and peace to you all.

George Hosking

 

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