Coastal Post Online

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September 2001

Turning Point

By Guy Meyer

"Last night I had the strangest dream" was one of folk singer Pete Seeger's most popular songs. The words go on to say, "I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war." The song describes a room full of men and the paper they were signing said they'd never fight again."

We tend to think of this scenario as a fairy tale, pitifully naive, to say the least. However, let's think about it. How else, outside of putting an end to human life in World War III, can we achieve a peaceful world? We should ask ourselves, "What is it that keeps the war machine rolling? Just a few bad people?"

Let's stretch our minds and "think globally."

Imagine human values (ideals, goals, methods, etc.) arranged in two main layers cutting across national boundaries. In the top layer the dominant beliefs are:

Getting rich is a worthwhile goal. To have power, privilege, and many possessions indicates a successful and admirable person.

Any actions, not forbidden by law, are acceptable in attaining this goal, regardless of how they may harm other people and our environment. The natural world around us is there for our use, to plunder and pollute, if need be, to fill our need and our greed.

The nations into which we may be born are sacred, more so than human life, which must be sacrificed for them. For some people religions, races, and traditions are also more sacred than human life.

The sacred nation is sovereign, free, independent, and separate from other nations. To maintain this sovereignty the nation must always have at hand the means of killing and destroying. Widely respectable terms are "defense" and "deterrence."

Some young people are trained to kill and are highly honored when they do so. Killing actions are glorified. Violence is glorified. Retaliation and revenge are matters of honor, identified with justice.

The best ways to maintain peace and order is through the use of fear, laws and penalties, threats and force.

While most of us tend to rely to some extent on some of these beliefs, there are those in every land who feel most strongly the necessity for coercion and force. These policies result in tyranny and wars, serious deterioration of our planet home, our environment.

Contrasting to these values, cutting across all national and religious boundaries is the layer of beliefs and actions concerned for the well-being of all humans and the environment. We see the sprouting of environmental actions, "Green" policies, peace and disarmament, forgiveness, concern for the compassionate understanding and treatment of offenders, filling human needs, and promoters of human unity.

Concern for the well-being of all humans and our environment is approved of to some degree, including by those who emphasize selfish individualism, nationalism, and faith in violence. These people are capable of shedding their old destructive attitudes and turning to support those that are life-caring. It is the dominance of their values that now drives human society toward self-destruction through the breakdown of our natural environment and by the approach of World War III.

If our species is to survive, a critical mass (influential minority) must guide the majority to replace these values with universal life-caring beliefs, goals, and policies.

How can this be accomplished?

In the past we have seen major value changes moving in the direction of widened caring for human-environmental well-being.

No longer do we accept slavery as legal, natural, and even beneficial to the slaves. No longer do we accept as natural the segregation and uneven treatment of people on the basis of race or religion. To demean and discriminate against people, even in private, is now frowned upon. (Pockets of these negative attitudes still exist, but are on their way out.) Attitudes toward women, the physically and mentally handicapped, and homosexuals are becoming more accepting and caring.

All these changes were results of grassroots movements initiated by a few strongly motivated people. By public acts and other statements, these people demonstrated their intense dislike and rejection of such values. Through boycotts and violations of laws and traditions that supported the outmoded values of slavery, racial segregation, patriarchy, plundering and polluting of the environment, they blocked business-as-usual in such acts and policies.

By simultaneously honoring and celebrating the establishment of caring attitudes, they provoked and inspired wide discussion that brought previously apathetic and hostile people to re-think their values.

At this time to put an end to militarism's worldwide killing and destruction, a few committed persons can instigate controversies and discussions that will have far-reaching effects.

Throughout the world today there are thousands of organizations devoted to the promotion of life-caring values. They represent millions of people who have seen enough suffering, would welcome hope of change, and add their efforts to any movement that might emerge.

Is there any reason why today, as in the past, a small group of committed people, engaged in direct nonviolent actions and public declarations, cannot detonate a major movement so sorely needed by the world's people, so critical to humanity's survival?

By uncovering the rotten core of a popular value--by peeling back the layers of glorious battles and wars, medals for killing, honors for those enticed or commanded to kill, respect for weapons, uniforms, and titles--they will be able to expose the gross infection in human society's needless suffering, killing, torturing, maiming, orphaning of innocent children.

They will continue to reach out to our youth, opening their minds to the truly glorious and attainable alternative, a united Humanity in a healthy environment. They will continue to speak out until our voices are heard and answered.

To this end an event is being planned in West Marin to celebrate a Day of World Community. The day this event will take place (and in other parts of the world, as well) will be on Wednesday, March 20, 2002. That is the day of the Vernal Equinox, when day and night are of equal length over all the earth, when the sun's direct rays cross over the Equator. The symbolism is clear. How appropriate for a day to celebrate World Community! How appropriate an occasion for our children and youth to lift their allegiance from a world of segregated armed nations, religions, etc. to a world freed from their demands for blood sacrifice.

As a feature of the coming celebration, beside the usual food and music (here representing different cultures) there will be a special ceremony in which young people (of all ages) will have an opportunity to publicly celebrate their choice of a new commitment.

One of several projected scenarios can be found at www.turnworld.org.

 

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