Scilla Elworthy – When I was thirteen
„I saw on television how russian tanks were rolling into Budapest to crush the uprising in 1956“, says Scilla Elworthy, who was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize . „Kids my age were throwing themselves against the tanks.“ The young girl immediately wanted to go to Budapest, to help with the situation. Her mother convinced her, that she needed to get training if she wanted to be of any use. „Although I couldn’t do very much at that age, since then I have known deep inside me what I needed to do and be. I had no choice. I had to stand up for people harmed by extreme violence. I had to understand what was going on and try for better solutions to what was happening. I wanted the truth.“
Almost thirty years later she came into her true power as a peace activist by founding the Oxford Research Group, an NGO to bring to light how nuclear weapons decisions are made. „We called it the Oxford Research Group, because that’s where I lived at that time. We actually started at my kitchen table.“ she explains. „We analysed who designed the warheads, who built the submarines and aircrafts, who provided the data for targetting and deployment, and who had authority to give the orders and sign the checks.“ She also got groups of concerned citizens involved to develop fruitful dialogue with nuclear decision makers.
Ever since Scilla Elworthy has been dedicated to the transformation of conflicts. She was involved with the Elders, a group of wise people from all over the world who could guide better decisions for the future of humankind, and founded Peace Direct, an organization for peace initiatives.
„Through my long experience working on the frontline of conflict and societal change I understood, that this work however passionate and genuine, is more effective if it is based on inner intelligence, on self-awareness and the ability to understand others. We need to combine inner awareness with outer action“, she explains her interest in inner work.
You can’t remake the world without remaking yourself.
„Also Leadership begins with the radical mastery of one’s inner being . This is one reason why the whole world cried, when Nelson Mandela died. He was a leader with mighty inner power and integrity. Unfortunately many political leaders make decisions based on a short-term perspective; they are just focussing on the next opinion-poll or election. They do not serve the interests oft he next generation, never mind the planet or the biosphere. But translating the interests of future generations into policies and actions would lead to more sustainable solutions today – everywhere. “
I had the opportunity to speak with Scilla Elworthy at „The Lovers“ in Berlin ,where she facilitated a workshop on „Pioneering the Possible – Awakened Leadership for a World that works”.
Photography: Darshana Borges