This chapter has been published in the book BEST FOR ALL:
How We Can Save the World.
For information on ordering, please click here.
We as human beings are facing a series of crises that will
continue and may get worse until we establish a global society
of peace and justice that is sustainable. Already six and a half
billion people are living on the Earth. Our numbers are likely
to increase gradually to about ten billion or more unless a major
disaster, such as a nuclear war or an uncontrollable plague or
environmental collapse, causes a drastic reduction in population.
Even human extinction is a possibility if we are not wise and
careful. These disasters may also occur sporadically without wiping
out a large percentage of the Earth's people. Frequent wars have
often devastated human societies since tribes and the early cities
of civilization began coming into conflict about five thousand
years ago. The rapid acceleration of technological advances in
recent centuries has brought about many improvements; but at the
same time destructive potentials have increased, and conflicts
are multiplying as the Earth becomes more crowded. More than a
hundred million people died in the wars of the twentieth century,
and the twenty-first century has so far allowed the extensive
misery of many to continue. The global climate is becoming warmer,
and serious concerns about human violence have increased. About
half the people in the world are living in poverty, and more than
one billion of them are desperately poor.
Although the end of the cold war brought about some reductions in the enormous nuclear arsenals of the former Soviet Union and the United States, Russia and the US still have thousands of nuclear weapons. Even though article six of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty mandates the complete disarmament of all nuclear forces, the nations with nuclear weapons so far are not fulfilling their obligation to work toward disarmament. Instead, the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 ostensibly to prevent that government from developing weapons of mass destruction, a rationale that was proven to be erroneous. This aggressive action without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which was overseeing the disarmament and inspections in Iraq, has caused some other nations that feel threatened by the US to pursue their efforts to gain nuclear weapons in order to deter such an attack on them.
Biological and chemical weapons also pose immense dangers to humanity and have not been brought under control either. The global security situation has shifted from the bipolar cold war between the capitalist and communist blocs to the superpowerful hegemony of the capitalist nations led by the United States. The attacks on September 11, 2001 that killed about 3,000 people have been used by the George W. Bush administration to justify an endless "war on terrorism" in its quest for global domination by military means. The oppressive occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel and the recent occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq by the US, Britain, and a few allies have provoked insurgent resistance by Muslim "terrorists." Much of the world's remaining oil supplies are located in countries that are controlled by Muslims, and many believe that the military occupation of these countries by the capitalist, materialistic, and mostly Christian nations is offensive to their Islamic faith.
As people become more prosperous in developing nations such as China, India and others in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, the competition for the diminishing oil and other resources that fuel industrialization and transportation are bound to cause increasing conflicts unless we find better ways to resolve disputes, share, and limit our consumption. The continued use of fossil fuels is polluting the air and aggravating the problem of global warming. The resulting melting of glaciers is diminishing the supply of fresh water on Earth. As population increases, fresh water is becoming more precious and needs to be shared fairly to avoid conflicts.
The world has many complicated problems, and the solutions are neither simple nor easy. Thousands of books have been written about the problems, but very few envision comprehensive solutions or a visionary plan for global reform. This book offers such a vision of what the world could be like if people work together by democratic means for peace and justice. I will discuss how we can transform our current world to bring about such a plan. Thus this book will not repeat the detailed analyses that are already available elsewhere in order to concentrate on how better ways, policies, and methods can greatly improve our society and life on Earth. Humanity is drifting in a dangerous direction that is making conditions worse in many ways and more dangerous for humanity as a whole. We need a major course correction to avoid the disasters that loom ahead if we do not alter our violent behavior.
Some say that human nature cannot be changed, and that people will always be violent; but I believe that inside everyone is a spiritual reality that intends to love and be loved. By acting according to this love we can purify not only our own lives but also affect others with our charity and cooperation. By working together we can be strong enough to prevent and restrain those who are still violent from having much effect. I am not saying that this is going to be easy nor free of sacrifices, losses, and defeats along the way, but I believe that people want to survive and that we can learn the ways of helping each other in order to do so. The solutions are both individual and collective. In The Art of Gentle Living I discussed how we can act personally to improve our own lives and help others. This book, Best For All, focuses on what we can do socially and politically to reform our institutions and create a world democracy so that we can solve the problems in ways that are nonviolent and best for all.
In facing the global emergency we need to set priorities and work on solving the worst and most dangerous problems first. Jesus and many other great spiritual teachers have described how humans can act in order to bring about what he called the sovereignty of God. The essential principle is loving our neighbors as oneself. Perhaps the most neglected aspect of this is learning how to love our enemies. Many human conflicts have become worse and more deadly because people have resisted the violent by fighting back with more violence. This approach tends to increase the violence in the world as each side continues to fight back against the other. We need faith and patience but especially the courage to face conflicts without resorting to violence. Nonviolence immediately reduces the violence because even the violent opponent usually does not feel the need to use force against peaceful people. When large numbers of people join together in this peaceful approach, they are strong enough that they do not have to submit to any injustice. In this era of global connections people who are peaceful can communicate with each other, and I believe that there are enough of us that no violent group will be able to kill us all. Thus by using world opinion and this solidarity in the nonviolent way we can work together to reduce the violence and reorganize human politics and society to bring about disarmament, peaceful judicial processes for settling disputes, and the sharing of resources so that everyone in the world has at least their basic needs fulfilled and the freedom and opportunities to lift themselves to a higher standard of living.
If we think of all humanity as one family, then we can begin by taking care of those who are most in need. Helping the poorest of the poor is the best investment we can make, both by private charities and by wealthy national governments making contributions. Allowing large numbers of people to starve to death is a disgrace to the human race and very bad for our self esteem and dignity. Waiting until the circumstances are desperate and then sending in food does not solve the basic problem but treats only the final result of the neglected situation. A much more intelligent solution is to make sure that everyone in the world is kept from falling that far into poverty. By transferring even a small portion of what the world is currently spending on armaments we could provide support for the basic security, health conditions, clean water supplies, and agriculture so that such people would be able to provide for their own needs. At the same time education could be subsidized by others more fortunate until the people in every country are prepared to be self-sufficient.
Charitable grants are best, and they should not be used to force governments to adopt policies such as emphasizing exports that are against the interests of their own people in order to favor the wealthy who are giving the grants or making loans. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies need to be changed. Even some of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been selling food to governments in order to gain money for their own work. Recent history has shown that it is unwise and unfair to loan money at interest to the wealthy class in very poor countries, because the results tend to help the wealthy and perpetuate the poverty of others. Domestic agriculture in these countries needs to be supported so that they can become more self-sufficient. Agribusiness by the US and others should not be allowed to dump their subsidized products into poor countries at less than the cost of production, which drives local farmers out of business. Developing local agriculture is more efficient and saves much on transportation costs.
The process of disarmament also needs to be a high priority because the military is the most dangerous and wasteful spending. We can begin by eliminating all of the weapons of mass destruction in the world because they have no intelligent use. We can form a democratic federation that will ban these weapons and all warfare. Then the military forces can be reduced to local law enforcement in each country as the nonviolent legislative and judicial processes of the world democracy settle international disputes. The conscientious people of the world can communicate and join together to plan this so that it can happen in peaceful and intelligent ways. People can be educated and trained in nonviolent conflict resolution so that whenever difficulties arise, they will be solved peacefully. Human rights should be universally protected, and any violations not corrected by local or national governments may occasionally require nonviolent intervention by authorized representatives of the world democracy. Once complete disarmament and demilitarization have occurred, this will not be as difficult. Everyone will have the right to a fair trial and will be held to account for their actions that violate others. The greater challenge is in the disarmament process while the massive weapons are still available. Thus the disarmament needs to be very carefully planned and implemented with thorough inspections. Those who refuse to relinquish their weapons may try to cause some havoc before they submit.
In order to make sure that the process of disarmament is going to work in a way that is democratic and fair for all, the people in the world will need to see that the global democratic institutions are working well. Thus the people need to use their democratic power so that the national governments will begin the process of disarmament by reducing and eliminating their weapons of mass destruction. Success in this effort will give people more confidence that further stages of disarmament are practical. Thus while we are in the process of communicating and educating each other on how we can form a democratic federation, we also need to be using nonviolent and democratic processes within each nation to bring about the disarmament of the weapons of mass destruction. People need to support political leaders who will pursue these goals while withdrawing support from those who do not. The governments of the nuclear nations can also be pressured to disarm by global boycotts of their products made by companies that do not support disarmament. Furthermore, citizens in the nuclear nations need to stop paying the taxes that pay for the weapons of mass destruction. Other nations and the wealthy can stop loaning money to such governments by refusing to buy their bonds. The United States is the most powerful nuclear nation; but its government debt has reached eight trillion dollars and is increasing rapidly. Much of this debt is held by Japan and China. If those nations and others were to stop buying more bonds until the US Government agreed to disarmament, the economic pressure of national bankruptcy could help bring about the desired result.
We can prevent wars and eliminate weapons and military forces by using diplomacy, democratic processes, and judicial decisions to resolve conflicts in humane ways; but if we continue to allow massive violence with large numbers of devastating weapons, the human species may destroy itself and become extinct, throwing evolution back millions of years. This is our choice in the twenty-first century, and humanity has never faced a greater challenge. Before this choice is made, humans could go on a while longer with increasing pollution and misery that could include radioactivity that might make large regions uninhabitable and cancer rates and mutations epidemic. I am appealing to what is best in all of us to work for a better world for the sake of all future generations. Once we have removed the greatest dangers of warfare and the worst misery of poverty, we will be able to solve all our other problems in a free and democratic situation. Many changes and reforms will need to be made to make our civilization sustainable for a healthy and harmonious life for everyone. Our challenge is to learn how to get along with each other and to find peaceful and just ways to govern humanity democratically so that no one is allowed to oppress or harm others. The purpose of this book is to describe a plan for how we can do that so that this vision can be a reference point to help educate people on the solutions we need to apply. I do not claim to have all the answers, and these ideas are subject to modification and improvement. Let us work together to find the ways that will be best for all so that we will save the world from the dangers that threaten us and our descendants.
This chapter has been published in the book BEST FOR ALL: How We Can Save the World.
For information on ordering, please click here.
Disarming Weapons of War
Creating Global Democracy
Reforming the US Constitution
Global Disarmament Treaty (first draft by Beck)
Constitution of the Federal Earth Democracy (first draft by Beck)
Constitution of the United States Revised (first draft by Beck)