Scilla Elworthy comes from a military family. When she was 11 years old, her big brothers taught her how to fire a shotgun. As she recalls, she felt enormously pleased with herself and went out into the woods alone.
There, she saw a nest high up in a tree, and she did something that was completely taboo - she pointed the gun upwards, aimed, and pulled the trigger. Down on her head came bits of stick, pieces of eggshell, pieces of embryo chick, and the sky blue feathers of the mother bird. She was profoundly shocked by the violence of which she was capable, that she took the gun home and never touched it again.
She has spent the intervening years helping to prevent armed violence. She has seen how just one sniper’s bullet can condemn a family to three generations of suffering, never mind the human catastrophe of a missile attack. She says, "From what we have learned of the carnage of the past century, we humans now know enough about how to prevent war, that we can plan a viable world without war."
In 1982, Scilla founded the Oxford Research Group to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics. Twenty years later she founded Peace Direct to promote and learn from local peace-builders in conflict areas.
Her most recent book is The Mighty Heart: How to Transform Conflict, and her previous two books, The Business Plan for Peace: Building a World Without War (2017) and Pioneering the Possible: Awakened Leadership for a World that Works (2014) received critical acclaim from experts in the field.
Last but not least, when asked about a favourite joke, she shares: “My best joke requires a strong Scottish accent so I shall have to somehow record that for you. My second best joke is too risqué to put up on a website. So here’s my third best joke: "They’ll never win a war on drugs. It’s hard enough to win a war even when you’re not on drugs."
In this TED talk, Scilla answers why and how non-violence works.