I’ve been traveling and have not had the time to service my blog for a while. In Seoul recently I made a short address to a conference organised by the Universal Peace Federation. The following is the text of what I said.
If the world isto be”transformed” to give all of our children even the prospect of a future worth having, governments must be the prime instruments for bringing the transformation about. THE problemis that governments are not seriously addressing? or not addressing seriously enough ? any of the growing pile of problems which threaten the wellbeing and perhaps even the survival of mankind. So what’s to be done?
The first thing I think we all need to do is understand whygovernments are not acting to stop the countdown to catastrophe on various fronts.
There are a number of reasons but in the short time available to me today I will deal with only one. It’s to do with the fact that the Game of Politics is all about, and only about, short-termism. Politicians are only concerned with winning the next election. How do they go about doing that?
In every so-called democratic society, and the Western ones in particular, politicians solicit the votes of citizens with the promise of MORE of everything in the way of material satisfaction ? an ever improving material standard of living and ever more in the way of consumer goodies and the money (I think I should say credit) to buy them.
Because that’s the way the Game if Politics is played, our politicians are frightenedto tell us the truth about real choices and options if we want to change the world for the better. The truth being that if those of us who live in the affluent nations really want to see the creation of a better and more just and peaceful world, we must DOWNGRADE our expectations for more of everything and even be prepared to take LESS not MORE of the global cake.
Simply stated, our politicians are not telling us the truth because they fear that if they do, we won’t vote for them. And they have this fear, are driven by it, because, like the mainstream media, they subscribe to the PESSIMISTIC view of human nature.
According to this view, we human individuals are inherently and unchangeably greedy,short-sightedand selfish, preferring to live for today at the expense of tomorrow. In other words, actually one word, human nature isbad. (Perhaps not completely bad, but much more bad than good).
There is, of course, another view of human nature ? the OPTIMISTICone. And it’s the view to which I subscribe. Always have done. Always will.
According to this view, we pop out of the wombs of our mothers as more or less blank pageson which to be written. Which must mean, surely, that we have at least the potentialto be good. (Perhaps not completely good, but more good than bad on balance). What I mean by good is having the ability and the willto think and act beyond the confines of narrow, shortest-term, self-interest. It’s true that we are born with some genetic inheritance, but almost all of us become what we become mainly as the consequence of our upbringing, our environment and our experience.
What this suggests to me is that we modern human beings have been CONDITIONED to be greedy, short-sighted and selfish. And if that is so, it follows, surely, that we could RE-CONDITIONEDby what my favourite philosopher, the American John Dewey, called “social influence and education”. Dewey put it this way:
The most powerful instincts, such as sex and pugnacity, have been considerably modified and controlled by social training; and there is no reason why other instincts, like those of acquisition and mastery should not be similarly modified by social influence and education. We must unlearn our ideas about an unchangeable human nature.
In my opinion, the affluent minorities of Planet Earth ? over-developed Westerners and the upper and emerging middle classes of the fast developing nations – have also got to claim back their humanity.What do I mean? Those with purchasing power are becoming de-humanised by allowing themselves to be regarded as nothing more than units of consumption.
What I am trying to say comes down to this. If we the peoples of nations really want to play our necessary part in creating a better, more fair and peaceful world, we have to start by changing ourselves?. This, I believe, is the best way to demonstrate to politicians, and leaders especially, that they will NOT be committing suicide by telling us the truth about choices and options for stopping the countdown to catastrophe.
If that message can be conveyed to politicians, they will no longer have a reason (or even an excuse) not to engage with us in open and honest debate about not only whatmust be done to change the world for the better,but what doing it will cost.
I’m now going to do something I’ve never done before on a public platform. I’m going to say a few words about GOD.
In my view of the scheme of things, God is the name that can be given, I think shouldbe given, to the potential goodnessinside each and every one of us human individuals. God so defined is a Prisoner in
Man.And it’s my belief that the prime responsibility of each and every human being is to liberate that prisoner.
If enough of us do that, and then encourage others to do it, creating a better, more fair and peaceful world will notbe a mission impossible.
I want to bring these brief remarks to a close with an observation about events in the Middle East and their global fall-out.
It’s long been my view that the Palestineproblem is the cancerat the heart of international affairs and will consume us all if a cure for it continues to remain beyond the reach of politics and diplomacy. At the present time, I fear that we areon course for a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic.
That said I want to make two pleas for understanding.
The first is for understanding of the difference between Judaism and Zionism.They arenotas most people have been conditioned to believe, or assume, one and the same. They aretotal opposites.
· Though there isn’t time for me to explain why here today, knowledge of this difference is the key to understanding many things? not only who must do what and why for justice and peace but, also, why it isperfectly possible to be passionately anti-Zionist(meaning anti Zionism’s colonial enterprise) without being anti-Semitic, and why it is wrong to blame all Jews for the crimes in Palestine of the few.
The second plea I want to make is for understanding of what, really, is driving and sustaining violent Islamic fundamentalism. The key to understanding here is the hurt, anger and humiliationof the Palestinian, other Arab and Muslim masses. And this hurt, anger and humiliation has a prime cause.
· It is American (and other Western) arrogance of power and support (by default or design) for the Zionist (not Jewish) state Israel right or wrong.
It follows, surely, that there is one way, and one way only, to win the so-called “war” against Islamic terrorism; and that is by addressing the root causes of it.
I’ll conclude by telling you that I think creating a more just and peaceful worldwillremain a mission impossible if the root causesof all conflicts, and the struggle for Palestine in particular, are not addressed. I believe they can be addressedbecause the so-called ordinary citizens of nations are not nearly as stupid as they are assumed by politicians and the mainstream media to be.
So let’s get down to the business of liberating The Prisoner, the good or God in all of us!