What they are: Particularly when military action is looming or being planned, some people wonder whether there are any alternatives to war. Short-term possibilities include trying to defuse the situation and avoid war, using such procedures as arbitration, conflict resolution, mediation or negotiation.

What they mean: More and more people, including pacifists, have been pointing out that war can only be prevented long before the situation approaches crisis point. Finding alternatives to war does not mean just finding other ways to carry out the confrontation. The point is to stop confrontation happening at all, and to aim to dispense with war entirely as a way of dealing with disagreements. So we need to find political leaders who have this aim, or might choose to take it on. One strong argument for abolishing war is that  the vast amount of taxpayers' money spent on war could be far better used to relieve injustice, poverty, disease and other discontents around the world - all things which are both the causes and the results of war. War could be abolished by law if the world's states, the United Nations, chose to. Some forms of warfare and some weapons have already been made illegal internationally. Better still, war could be abolished by people's common consent. Another argument for abolishing war and preparations for it is that many disputes are caused by the very existence of war machines. All other disputes can be resolved without using war to do it.

Think about it: Abolishing war means thinking in a different way about how the peoples of the world can deal with their problems. The best place to start thinking differently is in one's own environment. Look at  local problems and disputes, and think about creative ways of sorting them out, not just knee-jerk responses or turning a blind eye.