The Coastal Post - March, 1997

The Third Road

GUY W. MEYER

The word "revolution" (not counting the American Revolution) has an ugly connotation for most Americans and for many more in other parts of the world. It is often associated with kidnapping, hostage-taking, assassinations, and extortion. "Revolution" is also associated with Communism, since the Communists clearly intend world revolution.

Paradoxically, a main reason for the failure of the Communist Movement was that it was not revolutionary enough! Two very important aspects of the social system they wanted to replace were left intact, one even glorified.

While the Communists intended to replace capitalism, the private profit system, with socialism and eventually with communism, they retained the money exchange system. Political functionaries were still paid in money-considerably more than that paid to workers and soldiers. Money was still required to obtain needed resources and products.

From the time of the ancient prophets to the present, informed and educated people have known that "the love of money is the root of all evil." The Communists declared that the capitalist system, the quest for profits, was the root cause of wars, crime, and poverty, and must be abolished.

What they failed to consider, however, was that the money exchange system itself is a route to power and luxuries, and motivates many harmful practices.

Other economic systems have flourished in the past. A new system, more relevant to today's conditions, should be examined, tested and possibly ultimately adopted.

Another important plank of the old regime was faith in "might makes right"-the glories of violence and the occasional necessity of mass murder. Yet the Communist revolution was based not only on armed force, but the suspension of universal codes of ethics-trust, loyalty, honesty. Instead, deceit and betrayal were accepted as tools of revolution for a classless, utopian society.

"The end justifies the means" was the Communist justification. The Communist goal of power was, indeed, the justifier of violence and Machiavellianism. They could and did gain power-"took out" not only governments, but trade unions and other non-profit organizations-peace, human rights, etc. Using violence and trickery to gain power, however, could not bring about the utopian classless society that was their ultimate goal. No human brotherhood can be won by methods that promote violent warfare between sections of humanity. To gain political power, perhaps. To establish a just and peaceful society, no. The end is none other than an extension of the means.

The same is true for all the violent, so-called "liberation" uprisings-Irish Republican Army, Shining Path, Tupac Amaru, Leninism, Hamas, Maoism, Freemen, Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Hindu extremists, and many more. Seeking to gain power by killing and threatening is self-defeating. While these movements may bring fame to their leaders, their hate-inspired actions leave their marks of bitterness and grief on all sides. Remaining resentment will rot the foundation of any ensuing victory.

The coming global Movement will not only reject violence as an empowering tool, it will also by-pass reliance upon the conventional political process. Lobbying-letters to elected heads of state and other public officials-has been only slightly effective. Witness the failure of activists to bring about either peace or environmental protection after generations of persistent but vain importuning. The power of elected politicians to make meaningful decisions goes no further than the will of the voters. A change in public values must precede any hope of political change. For this a powerful Movement, active public concern, is called for.

Not until the 20th century was there wide knowledge of the strategy of non-violent resistance-"non-violence," as it came to be popularly known.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi brought this alternative form of power to the attention of the world. He called it "Satyagraha," which means Soul-force or Truth-force. Gandhi's movement persuaded the British people to grant independence to India.

Copying Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. led an American Civil Rights Movement to convince the American people that racial segregation must be ended, and all racial discrimination be ultimately eliminated. Movements for the rights of women, gays, and the disabled followed, and are already making historic gains.

As in the case of all these movements, to bring about change in the thinking-goals, loyalties, etc.-of the people, we must first capture their attention. We must excite them, inspire them to choose the new.

Today a powerful international social movement is called for to re-direct the attention of a critical mass (influential minority) of the world's people from buying and selling, competing and warring, to caring-deep concern for the well-being of all humans and our global environment.

The Movement accomplishes its goal by a two-fold thrust: 1) Back thrust against divisive and destructive values; 2) Forward thrust celebrating the value of caring.

Activities world-wide include teaching and encouraging youth to refuse and condemn militarism and other weaponry, to cease honoring nations, races and creeds, together with their symbols, as more sacred than human life, oppose plundering and polluting of the environment, non-violently impeding such activities when appropriate.

The bulk of the Movement, however, will be a global sprouting of celebrations, observances, holidays, events, honoring heroes and exemplars of Caring, building a vision of a caring world economic and social order, and expressing commitment to the Movement.

Young people today are in need of an inspiring life goal, a diversion from drugs and violence, the camaraderie of a bold movement, and the excitement of action.

New songs (together with cherished familiar tunes ,such as "We Shall Overcome") symbolizing a huge Movement, will be composed and sung at concerts, on the airwaves, at schools and churches. Their tunes will communicate across the barriers of language worldwide. New logos will appear. Possibly the familiar peace symbol will be infused with a broader, bolder meaning.

Opposition will naturally arise. Yet every hostile act will be another opportunity to respond non-violently, gain respect, and widen publicity, attention, and serious consideration. As an opposing wind helps kites and planes to rise, so will it be with the Movement.

Important elements of the Movement are now emerging-environmentalist, peace-seekers, healers, teachers, and those volunteering to fill human needs. Somewhere a triggering incident is moving toward birth. Another person who will refuse to move to the back of the bus?