In the 1930s, when I was young (and a White Male Christian Republican, I might add), a fairly large minority of people worldwide, suffering from the Great Depression, were talking about world revolution. "Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!" This was the heyday of the Internationals—Communists, Socialists and other anti-Capitalists.
Came the War and people turned their attention to other matters. Many fell in line with the totalitarians of the Right and the Left.
Today the Communist (Marxist-Leninist) Movement has crumbled. One hears little of socialists and anarchists. Capitalism seems firmly in the saddle, with little threat from anti-Capitalists. Yes, Capitalism rules, outside of a few spots of resistance—Cuba, Vietnam, China, for instance. Even these are beginning to yield to the glitter of the market system.
Today, also, bloody wars are raging worldwide, revolutions (not for the global humanist ideals of the Leftists of the '30s, but for the glory of ambitious generals, prime ministers, and religious leaders) and terrorism that knows no national borders. Weapons exist in power and number sufficient to destroy all human, and most of other, life. Millions starve and are homeless, while a few hundred are billionaires.
Greedy timber, mining, oil, fishing, cattle, and development corporations plunder our planet, as though there were no limit to their loot. Not only do they grasp for waning resources, at the same time they discharge poisons and pollutions into the air, water, and soil of our planet home.
The damage done by modern profiteers, supported by power-hungry politicians, dwarfs out of all proportion the harm done by capitalists of the early 20th century. Yet where today is there serious talk of world revolution? Surely the justification for such is many times greater than in those earlier days. Why is this so?
In the first place there are no charismatic leaders calling for revolutionary change (although we often read of the "need for a paradigm shift").
Secondly, the recent memory of the failed Communist Revolution, its bloody excesses, tyrannies, and production failures repels most people from the very idea of "revolution." Very few people want to try that kind of revolution again.
Could any kind of world revolution be of actual benefit to humanity and our prospects for long-range survival? I believe there could be. This would not be a violent revolution, for the active revolutionaries would reject the use of violence. Counter-revolutionaries, however, clinging to traditional values, might resort to violence in a vain attempt to block revolutionary change.
The revolution I envision (name it as you will—New World Movement, Caring Revolution, or ?) is not directed at the killing or harming of any person. It does not involve the use of threat or fear to coerce current power wielders. Its strategy is to identify and remove public support from those whose power is based on divisive and destructive values.
The global revolution urgently needed today to bring peace and health to humanity and our environment is aimed at changing the values—goals and loyalties—of a critical mass (influential minority) of thinking people worldwide.
To some degree the Great Revolution-to-be, marking a watershed in human history, has already begun. There are signs of its germination, its early sprouting.
Already we note the emergence of activists who care for the well-being of all humans, especially the handicapped and down-trodden, and our environment. These activists promote "Reverence for Life," a feel for the sanctity of vegetable and animal life, for the diversity and protection of non-human creatures.
These carers (or shall we refer to them as "Care-takers"?) express little respect for the process of acquiring—profits luxuries, privilege, and power—and excessive honoring of institutions, segments of humanity—nations, races, religions, cultures, etc. Loyalty to any of these human-made entities must give way to caring for Life-created beings.
Gradually, these Caretakers have begun to network and co-operate, thus enhancing their efforts (e.g., as in the international Green Movement). The emergence of caring and its downgrading of acquiring is the essential element of the Great Revolution.
There are also increased expressions of the need for radical change. Wars—international and civil—raging in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, take their toll most heavily on non-combatants. Children, women, and men are slaughtered in cold blood in Serbia, Burundi, Rwanda, Iraq, Indonesia, etc. (and tomorrow?). Thousands are killed, maimed, orphaned, left homeless in either open warfare or acts of terrorism. Survivors are left to grieve, fear, and hate. Many are left in despair of the future of the human race.
Throughout the world millions of thinking people, experiencing directly or through the media this world-spread insanity, are hoping and praying for an end to it. They are ready and waiting for a sign of hope, a powerful movement to replace acts and values based on greed, fear, and hate with values associated with caring. One could say that a large slice of humanity worldwide are ready and waiting—ready to join a movement that offers real hope.
Then there are the children and youth of the world, those now most subject to harmful indoctrination, recruitment, conscription, and exploitation of all kinds. Following the same values honored by the adult world, too many people in large cities resort to gangs, weapons, and drugs.
Youth especially look for excitement, group identity, glory, and challenge to authority. In the Civil Rights Movement to abolish segregation in the U.S. and in the Gandhian Indian Independence Movement many young people found all these desirable features. They found that a non-violent movement could be just as exciting as participating in violence. In fact, the glory was greater, as their cause drew more universal applause.
The world's youth are in urgent need of a Great Cause, one that could be the most important social movement in human history.
The one movement to replace the dominance of acquiring and its related greed, fear, and hate values, will be driven not only by those challenging militarism and nationalism, but also by activists concerned for feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, educating, healing, uplifting the disadvantaged, by those deeply concerned for the wholesomeness of the environment and for the protection of wildilfe.
The Movement will be recognized as such when these caring activists (Caretakers) become aware that they do, indeed, share a common objective, that they belong to and promote a single movement, and together will overcome.
The first phase of the Movement, however, must be the abolition of mass killing and weaponry, as well as the glorified excuses for their continuance. Important activities to this end are the following:
1. Refusal by youth (and others) to be recruited, conscripted, or inducted into militaries, or other armed groups.
2. Adult encouragement and teaching of children and youth to reject militarism and to despise weaponry as based on fear, not courage. (The truly brave need no weapons.)
3. A call by one or more public figures for a world constitutional convention to establish world law and an economy emphasizing caring.
4. Teaching children and youth to refuse to honor any aspect of militarism—generals, battles, uniforms, etc.
5. Teaching the young to give highest allegiance to caring for the Human Family and global environment, not to any nation, race, religion, etc.
6. Teaching the young to refrain from honoring rituals and other symbols that glorify any armed group of institution.
7. Designing and promoting symbols of the Movement—logos, slogans, songs, rituals, celebrations.
8. Networking organizations and individuals with principles of caring and resistance.
Housman's Peace Directory lists over 2,000 organizations worldwide devoted to peace and disarmament. While most of these will do little to effectively challenge the status quo, there will step forth a few activists who will publicly announce their intention of boycotting and promoting the boycott of all militarism and weaponry worldwide.
In addition, they will declare their highest allegiance transferred from nations, religions, etc. to the global Human Family. They will no longer be concerned for the sovereignty, independence, security, defense of any institution, or fragment of humanity, but only for the well-being of all humans in a world community, ordered by democratically established world law. They will make it clear that they accept no excuse for the production, deployment, or use of weapons.
Many parents, teachers, religious leaders throughout the world will at some point firmly support the youthful Caretakers. Controversy will naturally arise when business-as-usual is disrupted. In facing the debated issues, growing numbers of people will seriously consider where the greatest hope lies for the future of their children.
Exciting and meaningful actions will blossom on every continent, stirring youth to envision world community, take a stand, speak out. Musicians and composers will celebrate loyalty and commitment to the Movement, the heroism and sacrifice of activists.
The Caretakers (non-violent revolutionaries) will draw their circle of caring wide enough to include all people, including their opponents. Violence, arrests, martyrdoms will not be answered by more violence, but in fearless steadfastness.
Despite the downgrading and rejection of ancient divisive and destructive values, and despite the occasional violent attacks of those fearful of change, the overall spirit of this, the greatest of all revolutions, will be positive and triumphant, constantly celebrative and cheerful.
Popular singers (and rappers?) will spread the message among the young. Certain tunes will be sung and repeated, communicating above the divisions of language, at every gathering of Caretakers. Like the crossed arms and clasped hands of singers of "We Shall Overcome" in the American Civil Rights Movement, songs and gestures help unite the Movement.
Since "We Shall Overcome" was associated with a movement to end divisions and uplift the disadvantaged, it is possible that it might again emerge as one unifying, morale-building asset.
After all, the Great Revolution to elevate Caring for human and other life, and for the planet's environment, above acquiring—money, luxuries, privilege and power—will triumph in the end by following strategies similar to those of Martin Luther King, Jr.—non-violence coupled with firm resistance to divisive, destructive practices and institutions.
Had he lived, King might now be heading such a global movement. He wrote:
"I have said that the problem, the crisis we face, is international in scope. In fact, it is inseparable from an international emergency which involves the poor, the dispossessed, and exploited of the whole world.
"Can a non-violent, direct-action movement find application on the international level, to confront economic and political problems? I believe it can. It is clear to me that the next stage of the movement is to become international."
—Martin Luther King, Jr.