Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Is it a precursor to conflict?
"The 21st Century requires different politics, a different world order: an order of humanism, peace and justice. This order must be based on human values and on the moral principles expressed - in particular- in the great universal religions and on the rules of international law. The acknowledgment and defense of human rights must be the touchstone of national and global order, as well as the criterion of democracy and political humanism."
(Statement, First World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, 1999)
Daily news via television of soldiers raping women (in Somalia, Kenya, the Congo, Darfur, etc. ) evoke emotions of shame along with indignation and anger. Viewing the women huddled together in refugee camps, their eyes deadened by the violence soldiers invaded on their bodies, we too are humiliated in sympathy. We must ask, what is it about soldiery the world over going back into ancient times which motivates this debasing action? How can fellow humans regress to such a bestial and pervasive condition?
The New York Times is running a series on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.) The Times found 121 cases where Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, after their return from war, committed a murder in this country or were charged with one. "Clearly, committing homicide" wrote the authors, "is an extreme manifestation of dysfunction for returning veterans, many of whom struggle in quieter ways, with crumbling marriages, mounting debt, deepening alcohol dependence or more minor tangles with the law."
All the TV ads promoting the army, navy or Marines speak of courage, pride, power, economic opportunities, respect from others, especially family and women, and above all, "patriotic service" to the mother country.
They do not talk of dignity, human values, peace, respect for others, human rights or morality. Killing or being killed, of course, is never mentioned. Nor do they tell you that the army's first task is to discipline you to obeying without questioning. To accomplish this dehumanizing act, the recruit must be systemically humiliated ad nauseum. And so to "boot" camp: Humiliation's Playground. There, as a lowly recruit, you will be subjected to violent, irrational and deliberate diatribes from the "drill sergeant." Neither can you talk back to his personal insults but you must "prove" your ability to "take it," to "suck it up" as the Marines say, in the full knowledge that he is attempting to destroy your own reason and moral sense. It is the opposite of education. It denies every social code you have been taught almost from birth.
But hold on! Even before deliberately annulling the recruit's moral and rational center, his own decision even to don a soldier's uniform in the first place is to humiliate himself, to agree to become less than human, a soldier, dispensable to killing and being killed.
"These guys today," said Hector Villarreal, a criminal lawyer in Mission, Texas, who briefly represented a three-time Iraq combat veteran charged with manslaughter, "I recognize the hole in their souls."
What is the reason for this systemic humiliation? Obviously your primal duty as a soldier is to kill another human. You cannot therefore consider him/her/a child as "human," but only a member of the "enemy."
"A common and natural result of an undue respect for law, is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, private, powder-monkeys and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their will, ay, against their common-sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts, and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous men in power....[B]ehold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts, a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniments..."
Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
The primal thinking is tribal or relativistic: we-and-they. We are already conditioned to this way of thinking through competitive sports, in school, the "team" syndrome tied in to the mythical "winning" paradigm. It prevails throughout the educational system-my school against their school-my town team against their town team, and finally, my country against their country. "Winning" and "losing" are the geo-dialectical interdependent polar "opposites" defining this paradigm.
Humiliation or loss of pride, self-respect, or dignity is the built-in consequence of this way of thinking.
When the "winners" of wars humiliate the losers, the inevitable consequence is the need to "get even." Ot better, to "win" the next battle. Thus the deadly duality persists. Was not WWII the result of the Versailles Treaty demeaning the vanquished German nation?
Extrapolating this win/lose syndrome to our global community we must ask how does the "win/lose" paradigm pervade the human race itself-as a whole? In other words, can humanity itself be "humiliated" by losing? The question seems absurd because if humanity "loses," there will be no one left to be humiliated.
But now we all know-even the smallest child-that humanity, in this nuclear age, indeed, can "lose." First, the national soldiery, already disciplined to unleash the destruction at its fingertips at their "enemies" if given the order by their national masters, can launch the final holocaust via nuclear weaponry. And the national so-called leaders themselves are cognizant of this deadly duality. Second, the world citizenry itself, in its unbridled and irrational demand for increasing energy, can pass the "tipping point" causing the environment to "win" the "war" for the 14-billion-year's old planet, totally disinterested in humanity's short-lived survival.
When, as a 22-year-old United States bomber pilot, I was flying over Germany during World War II dropping bombs on cities and civilians, underneath the intense concentration of formation flying in a group of 12 B-17s, I too felt morally degraded as a human being. My profession was acting. On stage, facing an audience, I was joyful, fulfilled and felt worthy of life itself. My relation to my audience was one of mutual respect, appreciation, even love. Each performance was a mystical bonding experience, eternally fresh. To me the theatre was a temple of joy and wonder, justifying my humanity. But as a wartime pilot I had lost my humanity, my soul, if you will. I had become a mere killer of fellow humans. My rationale, (the "Allies'" rationale): "Win the war against the Nazis" was my sole unthinking motive in life at that moment. Despite the thrill of flying and the atavistic tribal certainty of being one of the "good guys," against the "enemy," by definition, "evil," it was as a "national citizen", a subject to an ancient tribal syndrome: win or die. No longer was I only a happy entertainer. I felt debased, used, humiliated.
Together with my two brothers, I had surrendered my true human identity to the false god of war.
Then came Hiroshima, August 6, 1945 and THE BOMB!
Politically, my sovereignty as a human being was at once annulled by THE BOMB's very existence. My sacred rights-and that of my fellow humans-to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" was vitiated by the presence of a total weapon in the arsenals of competitive, warring nation-states.
In short, what was my new earthly ID vis-a-vis THE BOMB? What is yours? Indeed the mere existence of THE BOMB suddenly blasted into our very souls: What then is humanity's? Suddenly the realization that humanity itself was threatened forced us to realize that humanity REALLY EXISTED! Our political orientation viewing the world from our particular nation was suddenly exposed as deadly and obsolete. Especially following the death of my own brother at the invasion of Salerno I was forced to reevaluate my very human purpose living on planet earth. Of course I was not alone in this quest.
Why indeed, did Einstein himself claim that " a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels?" "Today the atomic bomb," he wrote, "has altered profoundly the nature of the world as we know it, and the human race consequently finds itself in a new habitat to which it must adapt its thinking...In the light of new knowledge, a world authority and an eventual world state are not just desirable in the name of brotherhood, they are necessary for survival...This must be the central fact in all our considerations in international affairs: otherwise, we face certain disaster."
Along with Einstein's warning, Stafford Beer, former president of the World Association of General Systems and Cybernetics wrote that "Man is a prisoner of his own thinking and his own stereotype of himself. His machine for thinking, the brain, has been programmed to deal with a vanished past."
The "vanished past" is obviously the horse-and-buggy 18th century nation-state imposed on the instantaneous, one world 21st century. But does not the nation-state system itself, in dividing humanity artificially into its tribal units with anarchy separating them, generate and perpetuate conflict? And is not humiliation embedded in our very primary political allegiance to the dysfunctional and warring nation-state system now proven obsolete by the aspect of omnicide? In short, given the nuclear threat to humanity, is not THE BOMB the ULTIMATE HUMILIATION today embedded within this admittedly dysfunctional politics ?
Absolute in its indiscriminate destructive power, THE BOMB exposes our national citizenry as virtually and literally impotent. In this century, when, via technology and electronics, time and space have utterly collapsed between us, the nation-state leaders, feeling their power fading, tighten the screws to our fictional state coffins in the false name of "security."
The dichotomy could prove mortal.
That is our problem. Do you need more evidence? Note the platforms of the US presidential candidates, both Democratic and Republican, now vying for their citizens' votes. Do any of them claim to have a program to outlaw war once they are in office? They do not because they cannot. They are on the wrong political level. Do they claim to eliminate the nuclear threat if elected? The next US president will swear "to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" the same oath George Washington took in 1789. But whereas the first president only commanded muskets and short-range cannons, the next US president will command an army and navy with an arsenal of upwards of 6,000 nuclear missiles enough to wipe out all living matter on our planet.
He or she will become the "Commander-in-Chief of National Humiliation."
My words are dictated by my status as a willfully stateless person. That is, I personally owe no allegiance to any nation-state nor can any sovereign-state claim my allegiance. National allegiance, in truth, is a collective suicide pact. My perspective since May 25, 1948 when I legally renounced my United States citizenship at the US Embassy in Paris is "outside the box looking in" as it were.
I speak, therefore, clothed with the sovereignty of one single human being born as you from another human being onto our common planet Earth. The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
If you are a former reader of these blogs, you know already that in order to meet this ultimate threat to me and my humanity, I have claimed as my primary political identity: "citizen of the world."
So, as THE BOMB itself is global in its power, so am I, and so are you, if you but claim it.
This claim is legitimate. Why? Because each one of us has the sovereign right as human beings to identity ourselves politically or otherwise.
Einstein wrote that "Imagination is more important than intelligence.." while Emery Reves pointed out in The Anatomy of Peace, "There is no 'first step' to world government; world government is the first step."
My inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, required a valid political framework consistent with my identity as a world citizen.
A mandate came from a surprising but official source. Following our interruption of a UN General Assembly meeting in Paris on November 22, 1948 demanding "one government for one world," in her column, My Day of December 15, 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt, the US delegate and chairperson of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Commission, wrote "How very much better it would be if Mr. Davis would set up his own governmental organization and start then and there a worldwide international government. All who would join him would learn that they have no nationality and, therefore, not being bothered by any special interest in any one country everyone would develop what he believes to be a completely co-operative feeling among all peoples and a willingness to accept any laws passed by this super government."
Indeed, the wife of the US president, Franklin Roosevelt, was only confirming article 21(3) of the human rights declaration proclaimed by the General Assembly December 10th of that year: "The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.."
After registering over 750,000 individuals claiming world citizenship from January 1, 1949, therefore, on September 4, 1953 from the city hall of Ellsworth, Maine, I declared the World Government of World Citizens. Its administrative agency is a Washington, D.C. corporation called the World Service Authority. Its web site is www.worldservice.org.
It was the only rational reply to THE BOMB's proliferating existence throughout the national world where anarchy prevailed in the we-they deadly win-lose equation.
It is the win-win solution for we humans who, after all, derive from an omniscient, ubiquitous and omnipotent SOURCE.
At Lucknow, India, there is a high school of 30,000 students, CMS, the largest in the world. From day one, upon entering, each and every student is made aware that he or she is a "citizen of the world." Becoming computer literate almost from their first grades, they are already globally aware of the imminent danger of a nuclear holocaust brought on by national politics which artificially separates them from their fellow students worldwide. They already know that war itself-bred by a condition of anarchy between nations-must be outlawed by world government. To them, that is a given. Their brains are NOT "programmed to a vanished past" but are operating in the eternal NOW.
And they are demanding of us adults to OUTLAW WAR via the world government.
For, they assert, they and their 2.4 billion fellow students can be served by nothing less.
By claiming our rightful human heritage as Citizens of the World and its institutional corollary, the World Government NOW, by reasserting our dignity as fellow humans we annul our global humiliation and THE BOMB as light eliminates darkness and as wisdom dispels ignorance.
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