Here at the Greater Good Science Center, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is provoking a range of emotions: sadness, anger, fear, and more. We’re reading the news every day and wishing that there were more we could do to help.
As an educational nonprofit, the best we can do, perhaps, is to remind ourselves and our readers that peace is always possible, the vast majority of people resist killing, even the most violent primates are capable of change, there are steps we can all take to bridge our differences, and activism can make the world a better place. We’ve gathered articles below to help you understand the roots of peace, war, and reconciliation; get involved in activism; and support your well-being and your children’s—including reminders of human goodness in times of conflict.
If you’d like to find a more direct way to support the people of Ukraine, our friends at KQED created this excellent list of organizations addressing the human crises that war creates. We hope you’ll consider making a donation to one of them.
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Promoting peace and reconciliation
- What Can We Learn From the World’s Most Peaceful Societies?: A multidisciplinary team of researchers is discovering what makes some societies more peaceful than others.
- How War Shapes Our Attitudes About Violence: New studies are discovering that exposure to war can make violence more acceptable among civilians—but there might be ways to break the cycle.
- Why Is There Peace?: Violence is declining, argues psychologist Steven Pinker. What are we doing right?
- How to Resist Manipulation by Embracing All Your Identities: Learning to celebrate complex identities in ourselves and others could help make the world a better place.
- Truth and Reconciliation: Forgiveness is not just personally rewarding. It’s also a political necessity, says Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He explains how forgiveness allowed South Africans to imagine a new beginning—one based on honesty, peace, and compassion.
- To Resolve Conflicts, Get Up and Move: Researcher Peter T. Coleman has found an unlikely path to peace: Move your body to help your mind get unstuck.
Reminders of human goodness
- Hope on the Battlefield: Military leaders know a secret: The vast majority of people are overwhelmingly reluctant to take a human life.
- Courage Under Fire: When the Bosnian civil war broke out, Svetlana Broz searched for the humanity behind the horrific headlines. She found stories of people who risked their lives to help victims of the war—and who inspired others to follow their example.
- Worlds Without War: Ethnographic studies find that not all societies make war. In other words, war is not intrinsic to humankind.
- Beyond Sex and Violence: Contrary to the typical view, violence is something humans resort to out of fear—or try to avoid altogether.
- Peace Among Primates: Anyone who says peace is not part of human nature knows too little about primates, including ourselves.
How political apology and forgiveness works
- The Forgiveness Instinct: To understand the human potential for peace, we have to learn three simple truths about forgiveness and revenge.
- The Greatest Test: Forgiveness improves health and strengthens relationships. But can it help heal the scars of civil war?
- Making Peace Through Apology: Some apologies encourage forgiveness and reconciliation between groups and nations; others only make things worse. Here’s how to tell the difference.
- What Makes a Political Apology Seem Sincere?: When is a political apology likely to be well-received? A new study explores the contributing factors.
- How Should a Group Apologize to People They Harmed?: A new study investigates which components of an apology foster forgiveness and reconciliation between groups.
Resources for well-being and activism
- Six Tips to Avoid Being Overwhelmed by the News: Here’s how to cope when all the negative news is triggering you.
- How to Sustain Your Activism: These three principles can help activists avoid burnout and continue working toward a better world.
- How to Renew Your Compassion in the Face of Suffering: Mass suffering can make us feel helpless. Focusing on solutions, rather than emotions, may be the way out.
- How to Deepen Our Compassion for Refugees: When we face large numbers of people in need, we almost instinctively pull back. By questioning this reaction, we can make space for a more empathic response.
Resources for children’s well-being
- Nine Tips for Talking to Kids about Trauma: In the midst of tragedy, kids will have questions. How do we respond?
- How to Talk With Kids About Scary News: Researcher Abigail Gewirtz explains how parents can have conversations with kids about global conflict and humanitarian crises.
- Five Ways to Support Students Affected by Trauma: Teachers can help students recognize their strengths and build resilience.
- Can Parents Teach Peace?: A recent study suggests they can, at least some of the time.