The Global Citizen
Category: Global Democracy & Governance
Ever since President Obama drew a red line to prevent further use of poison gas by Bashar al-Assad to murder Syrian citizens, I have advocated action to enforce the treaty against the use of such weapons. The U.S. Congress refused to review and endorse Obama's call for action because Russia and other supporters of Assad said they would remove the remaining poison gas from Syria and take it to Russia. However, they did not actually fulfill this commitment. This lack of action was wrong, morally and legally.
Now, we can move forward—carefully. Let us take creative notice of the fact that Russia and Iran have been acting as the protectors of the use of poison gas. Let us state that clearly. Let us, the United States of America, stand for international law and justice for people worldwide. Let us continue to mend relationships with Arab leaders who also support law and justice. Let us continue our efforts to defeat ISIS and its violence against the people of Syria, Iraq and other nations, but let us note that this is above all a war of ideas. It is basically a war for human rights and a struggle for a peaceful world.
In his speeches before both CPAC and the U.S. Congress, President Trump described with pinpoint accuracy the sovereign state system of today. But might we see a global anthem tomorrow, and a world flag, and even a United Earth? This posting is a short version of Tad’s longer article posted on AlterNet on March 10, 2017. Click here to read his full article and join in the discussion taking place there.
“We will serve the citizens of the United States of America, believe me,” said President Donald Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 24th. “There is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, or a global flag.” Four days later, in his first speech before a joint session of Congress, he continued, “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.”
But someday, is it possible that people around the world might actually sing a global anthem together? And hoist a global flag? And dwell together as citizens of a United Earth?
Our world grows smaller and more interconnected every day. No grand historical development is more defining of the modern age. Can we imagine the same feelings of camaraderie, kindred spiritedness, and tribal solidarity about our single human community? Can our loyalty to the world as a whole — as it does for many for one’s nation -- make our blood rush a little more quickly through our veins? Might our allegiance to our nations be accompanied by an allegiance to humanity?
Determined to work for peace having seen the destructive impact of war, he joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1948 where he worked primarily on economic and social issues. For many years, he was the Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. His work with ECOSOC brought him into close contact with NGOs whose work he always encouraged
CGS was a robust participant in the historic Women's March on Washington on January 21st, the day after the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th American president.
CGS, of course, is a nonpartisan organization. But as President-Elect, Mr. Trump indicated that he intended to increase the American nuclear arsenal "until the world comes to its senses," and even tweeted the words, "Let it be an arms race."
Few things could be more contrary to the CGS vision of enduring world peace through enforceable world law. In the short term, we know that a renewed nuclear arms race will diminish American national security and everyone else's as well. In the long term, our goal of something like a world republic would bring an end forever to perpetual arms competition, the forever arms race, Thomas Hobbes's permanent "war of all against all." Our dream is that China and America will interact tomorrow, in a Federal Republic of Earth, in much the same way that California and Texas relate today within the political community that is the United States of America. Californians and Texans can be quite different! But California and Texas don't fight wars. And they don't spend billions of dollars on weapons of death, every single year, on and on into the dim mists of perpetuity, to "deter" the other from starting one.
So CGS joined a coalition at the Women's March spearheaded by our friends at Women's Action for New Directions. We helped to craft the slogan adopted by this coalition: "Women for the Human Race, Not a New Arms Race." https://m.facebook.com/events/283920202010752/
Discussions of Obama's legacy are often too narrow. They focus on specific policies that were adopted or not adopted. They don't pay enough attention to what Obama himself said at his January 10 valedictory speech in Chicago. When the audience began shouting "No, no, no, no, no" as he mentioned the coming change in the White House, Obama responded with a statement that displays his wisdom and his understanding of the important role of the United States in world history, namely that one of our nation's great strengths "is the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next."
We have constructed a large and prosperous democratic nation that decides who should have ultimate political power in our country for the next few years on the basis of elections rather than fighting violent military battles. In a democracy groups with opposing views and interests realize that the results of an election can be reversed in the next election and the next and the next. Violence is not necessary.
In a stable democracy there is no one winner-take-all for the foreseeable future. The rulers for the moment can be changed in the next election. Progress toward an ideal community can be made gradually and even with steps forward and back.
We had our very destructive Civil War (1861-1865) to determine that we would preserve the democratic federal Union. For a century and a half after that our country has experienced the wonderful benefits of a united democratic federal government that determines its rulers by elections instead of wars and is governed by law and courts rather than destructive military battles. Obama realizes that, and his whole life as well as his presidency has been guided by it.
January 11, 2017 is a special day. Not because of the numeric coincidence of 1-11-17. But because of the large number of human beings who remain victims of human trafficking, one of the most degrading, harmful and illegal injustices known on earth, and we have to be reminded of it.
In 2007, the U.S. Senate designated January 11 as the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day -- making it the 10th year the world has virtually ignored it. If we knew the real costs of this global injustice we would not need to be reminded. This crime is not just costly. It has deadly and potentially catastrophic consequences for us all.
The Senate marked this day not just to generate awareness, but to generate action. Now they need to take it. Remind them with a phone call, email, tweet, hand written letter, or personal visit. Why? Because the only thing that remains missing is the political will to end it. The political will to create a global structure and system with the means to dismantle trafficking networks and assist survivors in rebuilding their lives, and sometimes their nation.
There are three fundamental ‘self-evident truths’ that will persist in our new ‘post-truth’ era when dealing with nearly any global problem.
If I were another on the road, I wouldn't have looked back. I'd have said what one traveler says to another: Hello stranger, wake up your guitar! Let's postpone our tomorrow to lengthen our road and widen our space, so that we may be rescued from our story together.
-- Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian poet.
By creating special observance days, the United Nations tries to promote international awareness and action on specific issues. Thus 6 February is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and 20 March is International Day of Happiness. 2 May highlights an issue we do not think about often: World Tuna Day. 18 December has been designated as the International Migrants Day, but even without a special day, migrants and refugees have become world-wide issues leading to political debate, especially in Europe and the USA.
Asylum seekers and immigrants with low level of education are often seen as a “burden”, not only for “Fortress Europe” but also for first reception countries. Thus, today's borders function as a filter, separating the “wanted” - that is, migrants who can be used - from the “unwanted”. The filter serves to separate those that get in from those who are pushed back.
Don’t just vote….Petition for Justice.
“Don’t boo! Vote!” President Obama retorted after a crowd reacted to promises of the GOP Presidential Nominee leading up to the 2016 election. Although voting is an important first step for citizens, it is not the only step we can take to have an impact on our politics and our lives. It matters greatly what we do as citizens between elections. Educating our elected officials, regardless of our opinion of them, can make an enormous and lasting difference.
‘We the people’ have the right (dare I say duty) to petition our elected officials on what we see is needed. And, we can do it every day of the year between elections. This means that a small group of committed souls with loving persistence can regularly educate their policy makers. The policy makers can be swayed using accurate, detailed and locally relevant information on why it is in their own best interest (and the interest of his/her constituents) to support or lead on a specific policy issue. This is how our government is supposed to work. Too often ‘we the people’ leave policy makers to the influence of paid corporate lobbyists.
In the Commonweal magazine article “Protect Thy Neighbor” (June 21, 2016) authors Mark J. Allman and Tobias Winright echo the Catholic Catechism when they say: “If and when the day ever comes when war is abolished—and like all Catholics, we pray for the arrival of that day.”
Catholics are urged by the Catechism (#2307) not only to pray for the day when war is abolished, but work to end it. “Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.”
Forty years after the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson said “Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. ... [They] must advance ... and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
What should humanity do now to exchange our old clothes of the past for something more appropriate for today's world? I propose that we commit ourselves to advancing love over hate and hope over despair. We should strive to implement structures that will make our planet sustainable and our human family more ethical and moral. We should practice active non-violence and wage peace rather than war. We should seek to establish security and justice for all. We should develop a global community where basic human rights are protected and greater economic equity is implemented. We should create a democratic world federation that would be a legal governing body for the Family of Nations. That is an ideal for humanity that has been advocated by many, including in several official pronouncements of the Catholic Church.