Elise M. Boulding + The 200-Year Present

11th April 2016

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I’ve just been reading about the renowned peacemaker, the matriarch of peace and conflict studies, the late Elise M. Boulding (1920 – 2010).

Elise came up with a forward thinking concept called the ‘200-year present’ as a way of thinking about bringing positive change to our lives and soceity, she explains it here:

"The 200-year present began 100 years ago, with the year of birth of the people who reach their hundredth birthday today. The other boundary of the 200-year present, 100 years from now, is the 100th birthday of the babies born today. If you take that span, you and I have a lot of contact with a lot of people from different parts of that span."

Elise came up with this concept after attending a peace conference in Sweden shortly after World War II. There she asked a panel of disarmament experts how the world would function when disarmament was achieved and to her surprise not a single person on the panel had an answer. From this experience she realised that the post war peace movement was working on peace without knowing what peace looked like, that peace workers didn't really know what they were working for and that getting a clearer grasp of this was crucial.

So the point of the concept is to get a clear picture of how we want the world to look in the future and then to find ways that we as individuals can contribute towards creating it.

Why not have a read of the 200-year present concept again and take a moment think about what you'd like to see:

"The 200-year present began 100 years ago, with the year of birth of the people who reach their hundredth birthday today. The other boundary of the 200-year present, 100 years from now, is the 100th birthday of the babies born today. If you take that span, you and I have a lot of contact with a lot of people from different parts of that span."

*Elise held workshops teaching people how to apply this concept, you can read notes from one of her classes just before she passed away in 2010 - it makes for an inspiring read: A Journey into the Future: Imagining a Non-Violent World

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