What Exists is Possible


Elise Boulding

Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Dartmouth College and Former Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Practice hope and practice loving people because that is all a part of that centering and seeing each person as special. If you get irritated with them you are no good. Remember to hope. My husband, Kenneth Boulding, use to say, "What exists is possible". Now that is a very profound statement. What it means is that if any peaceful segment or any successful group exists that has dealt with and gotten through really difficult conflicts, like a family or a community, it is possible. In a way it is a basic statement of fact. People are always startled when I say it although some people are getting use to me saying it now.

To remember that what exists is possible, I would say to any peacemaker that the best example that you can think of is possible. I would advise people to do some time imagining what kind of world they are working for. Knowing what you are working for affects your choices and what you do now. If you are reaching a difficult decision point in your own life, then think about that image of what you are working for and which way to go in relation to that. This would not necessarily answer it, but it would help.