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Iran RPCV Larkin D. Watson IV speaks out on Challenges of the New Millennium
Iran RPCV Larkin D. Watson IV speaks out on Challenges of the New Millennium
Challenges of the New Millennium ©9/24/01
by Larkin D. Watson IV (Iran 1966-68)
Dedicated to my friend Bo, who moved me to begin writing this, my wife Lyndsey, who lovingly critiqued and encouraged me, and my Native American teachers, who shared their great wisdom with me.
Below I would like to share my thoughts and feelings about the September 11, 2001 bombings of the World Trade Center’s two buildings in New York City, and of the Pentagon in Washington, DC, by three hijacked commercial airplanes and the related fatal crash of an additional hijacked commercial airplane in Pennsylvania. These four airplanes are now thought to have been hijacked and directed to civilian American targets in a well planned and executed attack by 19 men of third world ethnicity and perhaps Moslems, who willingly died to succeed in their attack. At the time of this writing it is being broadcast that their attack killed over 6,000 people. I will share about how I see the nature of the problem this disaster reflects, a requiem for this disaster, some challenges I think the disaster brings forth, four challenges of the New Millennium, and about beginning to search for strategies to address those challenges. This essay is in four parts:
Part I: The Problem
Part II: Requiem
Part III: The Challenges
Part IV: Three Possible Strategies
Part I: The Problem
While I am sad for those who, in these attacks, have suffered or died and for their families left behind, I am neither surprised nor shocked. I am only surprised the weapons were not nuclear bombs instead of airplanes. And I am angry but more at the cause of this and possible (probable?) future terrorism than at these terrorists themselves. I do not excuse the criminality of their actions, and I see a need for an appropriate international force (not a unilateral USA force) to bring the remaining conspirators, and others of their ilk, to justice. But that is not the main problem being presented to us by this disaster
Reflect closely and rationally about the terrorists for a moment. Like Sherlock Holmes, what can we deduce? I cannot help but see the terrorists as people born and bred to what they now do. On the one hand, the “terrorists” can be likened to violent gangs that, out of selfish motives, have attacked innocents throughout the ages. Most recently, examples are the angry, violent gangs of the ghetto, the greedy and predatory Mafia, or the maniacal religious zealots and cults in our own country. But, on the other hand, when we ask, “What are the selfish motives? Why are there so many people throughout the Third World who act similarly and/or rejoice in these attacks? Why are some willing to commit suicide attacks?”, we can only conclude that the terrorists have a substantive political cause, that they are highly motivated to pursue that cause, that they are highly organized and pervasive. In these regards, they more like a warring guerilla faction than like a gang. It is unlikely they are a “despicable, evil” gang, since there is no immediate gain and the price of the attacks is very high; gang members are not suicidal, but political warriors can be and often have been in the past. Whether they are despicable gang members or honorable warriors (like our revolutionary forefathers who broke the “rules of war and used guerrilla tactics for their cause) makes no difference; either way they have been taught to become what they are. And if they have been “misled” by a diabolical leader, that does not explain why they were so ready and willing to be “misled”; they still had to have been taught certain lessons by experiences throughout their lives to be so predisposed.
The problem is, the pivotal question is, “What is the primary, not proximal, cause of the attacks: who or what has taught the terrorists, or predisposed them, to be this way?” Last night the President said in an address to the nation, that jealousy of our wealth motivated them (and so too motivates all those who rejoiced in the attack?). This is wishful thinking and not good reasoning. Yes, people may kill for fierce jealousy, but they do not commit suicide in killing for jealousy, unless they are also psychopathic. The terrorists who died executing their attacks lived in good circumstances amicably among American neighbors, received sophisticated pilot training in the USA, etc. These were not psychopathic people. And can we believe that so many thousands or millions who find comfort in the attack are all psychopathic? I think not. These terrorists were more like the brilliant and devious spies or counter-insurgents throughout history, motivated by high political principles and part of a sophisticated, militant, political organization.
The main problem, the cause of the attacks, is that death and suffering much, much worse and on a far greater scale than this has been going on in the USA and in the Third World for decades at the hands of certain oppressive and exploitative corporations and political factions of the USA. While violent backlash or revolution in the USA by oppressed peoples, such as the Black Panthers or the American Indian Movement, has been successfully crushed by governmental force, the third world is now escalating their militant retaliation to oppression and as yet, that has not been successfully weakened by USA, or any other, force. The terrorists are merely acting like the President and Congress of the USA are now (9/21/01) acting towards them: with violent and vengeful vigilantism. It is so ironic and hypocritical to hear TV commentators and their “experts”, and even public polls, now say it would be alright to “break the rules” and bomb areas with innocent civilians to get at the terrorists. In just the previous breath they decried as “evil & despicable” the same thing being done by the terrorists in the airplane bombings. So now it is all right for the USA to be a terrorist too? It is all right for the USA to be “evil and despicable” too? Don’t worry! In the eyes of too many third world people we already are. That we are seen that way is now the smaller part of the problem; the main problem is why we are seen that way.
I am angry with those who bred these terrorists’ political purpose and bred the means to address it, those who in the long term inevitably caused this to come about: those elements of the USA power structure that have been allowed to carry out exploitative and oppressive policies at home and abroad. We the voters, all citizens of the USA, are responsible and accountable for their actions, for their use of our resources, our name, and our political clout in carrying out their schemes. Ignorance or gullibility is no excuse; as citizens we are obliged to know what’s going on and why.
The problem is also that these terrorists and their mother and brother organizations have been taught (in some cases literally taught) how to act out their needs, frustration and anger by the USA government and by the opportunistic elements of our power structure it backs (those among the extremely wealthy, the leaders and investors of the mega-corporations). The terrorists are acting as these elements of the USA have acted toward the terrorists and other oppressed peoples they know about – with conspiracy and deviousness, with arrogance and selfishness, and ultimately with inhumane and violent oppression of interests counter to profits.
The airplanes were simply bombs, albeit very large and effective ones, albeit bombs necessitating sacrifice civilians to be delivered, but otherwise no different than the bombs and napalm the USA dropped on innocent Vietnamese, Libyans, Afghanis, Sudanese, Iraqis and other countries. We (USA) have not only bombed and murdered third world families, but also have done much worse. We have been hypocrites who cry, “we are the bastion of freedom” and then covertly go about oppressing and exploiting thousands, even millions, even whole countries and their environmental well being to benefit our political agenda. While at times the USA has been magnanimous, that often seems necessitated by our guilt. On the other hand, our more pervasive policies have too often been those that support those who are greedy and callously exploitative among the wealthy leaders and investors of the mega-corporations that pull the political strings; unfortunately, they seem to be dominating the power structure of the USA in our time.
But in the public eye, in the media, who is going beyond the obvious vengeance toward the terrorists co-conspirators and is addressing the deeper question of why the terrorists and their coconspirators are doing what they are. And the deeper question, “How will we put an end to (or at least a cap on) future incidents of this kind?” After watching TV and listening to radio about all this for many hours over many days, I have only heard two people express anything other than grief about the losses and outrage at the terrorists and their ilk: a man referred to as Father Raymond, a Catholic Priest with expertise in international affairs, and Boston’s Cardinal Law. Both of these men expressed caution at the retaliation/revenge/vigilante mentality and encouraged viewers to ask “Why? Why would people hate us so much they would knowingly give up their lives to bomb us? Why would people hate us so much they would dance in the streets at this death and suffering?” It is much too sophomoric, to say they are all “evil and despicable” people.
Lately, TV commentators and even politicians have been “excusing” the ethnic, national or religious groups that they think produced these “wicked” terrorists. They have been pointing a finger at various third world peoples, especially Arabs, middle-easterners and Muslims, saying only a minority are “wicked terrorists”. They say, “of course not the whole religious group, nationality or ethnic group are terrorists- many, even the majority, are “good” people like ourselves”. But they divert our focus from the key question, “Why would anyone (who is not psychopathic) want to do this to the USA?” As long as even one person has such hatred for the USA that they would be willing to die to bomb a civilian building, we will not have answered “Why?” and addressed the cause effectively; we will not have finished the job we must now do to put things right; we will not have made the amends we need to make with the Third World, as we strove to do after WWII with the Germans and the Japanese.
Many Americans now appear ready to die for vengeance. But among those who are so indignant at this “dastardly deed”, who is brave enough to look in the mirror and acknowledge our own role in bringing this disaster about? Who is ready to die to clean up our own backyard before we run out to vengefully attack the rest of the world? Who is ready and willing to give up his life to throw off the yoke of the oppressive and prejudiced elements of our own country that are breeding this kind of hate and retaliation worldwide?
I myself am afraid to risk my life to go out in the streets and express the views in this essay. Right now, I believe that the indignant, self-righteous, blood-thirsting mob might have a hard time respecting my constitutional rights, my freedom of thought, speech, and belief as they wave their flags, supposedly proud of the principles and rights of this country. But I think I must do what’s right regardless of the risk. And anyone who purports to be a leader, especially of a nation, must be willing to risk their life if leading calls for it, as JFK did, as Martin Luther King did, Bobby Kennedy did, as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and so many others did. Many thousands more in our own country have died or suffered greatly because of ethnic or religious or racial persecution, because of their assertion of rights to free speech, and other stands based on Constitutional rights. Many of our citizens have been killed or made to suffer by their own countrymen because of their attempts to “walk the talk”, not just “talk the talk”, of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. It is ironic that they have died at the hands of their countrymen because of their very attempts to act and lead us in a manner consistent with our professed beliefs as a country: our Constitution and Bill of Rights, our Laws, our pride in freedom, self determination and equality. This hypocrisy must stop.
And what has happened to the enlightened generation of the 1960’s & 1970’s? Did the Viet Nam war and all the protests and domestic strife go for nothing? Is it all forgotten ? Did we not learn as a country that we must stop our oppression and exploitation of third World peoples? Did we not in the least expect retaliation for continuing to do it in so many ways, to so many peoples in so many countries for so long? Did we forget we must be vigilant to our own darker side in this country, vigilant to stop those selfish people in our country who would willingly bend or break our beliefs and principles for their own gain or perhaps only for their own comfort and convenience?
Yes, I am angry at the current situation. I am angry at living for thirty-five years (since my Peace Corps service in Iran) with an understanding of our country’s systematic oppression, greed and prejudice abroad and at home.
My understanding of American exploitation and oppression started when I was in the Peace Corps at 21 years old in 1967. I was in the outback of Iran riding in a van (the local bus) with Iranian villagers who didn’t know who or what I was. Since I spoke Farsi fluently, and since they believed no white blond foreigner would speak their language or understand their peculiar dialect, I could mutely listen to them speculating, unsuspecting that I understood them, whether I was a CIA agent, sent their to do some mischief to undermine their lives. You see, they knew that the CIA had been instrumental in the 1950’s in helping to overthrow their popular communist government of Mossadegh and return the tyrannical Shah to power. The CIA did this because it was in the interest of the USA to have the Shah in power.
The Shah was an American collaborator and a tyrannical exploiter of the worst kind, and I had some personal experiences of his exploitation and tyranny. It was well known that he hoarded the wealth of his country in Swiss banks. However, what fewer knew or saw was how bitter poverty-stricken villagers felt when they were forced to use resources they could not afford to build huge triumphal arches and have celebrations draining what little they had for the Shah’s coronation.
However, they had no freedom of speech and could not publicly complain because they were living in a tyranny. But because of my work and reputation, and because I was trusted by their friends, they shared confidences with me. They knew that the supposedly helpful Shah’s Army Health, Education and Agriculture Corps were in every village predominantly as spies; they knew this because the Corps did little, with some exceptions, to actually improve their lot, and because they ferreted away anyone who spoke critically of the government.
And the Shah’s tyrannical and pervasive plainclothes secret police watched and listened to every move and immediately investigated anything or anyone the least bit unusual that they might interpret as seditious. For example, when I was a few seconds late standing for the national anthem at a performance, two agents were in my Iranian boss’s office the next morning when I arrived at work. I was suspiciously questioned about all my activities and why I was doing them and who my superiors were and what they believed (I was building health-related facilities throughout the province). I had been a few seconds late getting up for the anthem, because I was in a children’s school with tiny seats with arms, and my hip pocket wallet caught on an arm when I first tried to stand up, forcing me to sit back down, remove it and stand up again.
My understanding has grown every day since the Peace Corps because I was open to hearing and seeing just what was around me. However, I am frustrated from doing things with my life and “career” since then to fight that oppression (entirely with domestic issues except for my two years Peace Corps service) and feeling I have hardly made a dent. Sometimes I feel my efforts have been an ineffectual drop in the bucket, although I know many people have thanked me for helping to change their lives.
However, I am angry that our citizens can remain either so ignorant of or blind to the issues that they could be fooled into thinking of this terrorist attack as “aggression’ rather than as “retribution”. I am sad so many people have died and suffer this day because of this “war” and sad to feel like my country is not the “just one” (maybe there is no “just one” in a war, only a winner and a loser). I am sad and ashamed that my country is to blame for this disaster as the initiating aggressor, not the terrorists who are retaliating for our aggression upon them, their peoples, their beliefs, their way of life, and their self-determination.
Yesterday President Bush’s speech compared the terrorists to Hitler and his demise. But I am sad to feel our country itself is not showing a much better track record than Hitler’s prejudiced Germany or Imperialistic Japan prior to WWII. I am sad that we as compliant citizens and political representatives are “going along with it all”, something for which we condemned the German leaders and people after WWII. And if WE of the USA don’t stop the oppression and exploitation that WE are doing, the terrorism is going to get much worse. What if one of the terrorist factions gets hold of a nuclear bomb? We already have substantial spy networks eluding our security forces. Do we need alien soldiers or insurgents on our shores to get the message? Do we need each of our towns attacked? Do we each need our own family hurt or killed before we stop blaming others and say, “What did we do to bring this on ourselves? Why doesn’t the world love our “bastion of freedom”? “
I’m sorry if I don’t have much compassion for those who are outraged at the terrorists now. I find their outrage selfish and self-indulgent. Where has been their outrage for those abroad and at home who have starved in spite of our great wealth while even enabling that wealth?… for those thousands of innocents who have died year in and year out at our hands, both violently and insidiously by the policies of those who are greedy in our industries? …for those who have had to fight our covert-ops and counterinsurgents trying to destabilize their fight for freedom and self-determination? …for those whose freedoms have been oppressed by those who are opportunistic in our power structure? …for those whose environments have been decimated by certain greedy USA policies at home and abroad? ….for the very plants and animals who are our brothers and our mother and are so callously used, abused and disregarded by certain USA environmental policies at home and around the world? Those who are outraged here and now, what have they done, what are they planning to do to correct the injustices perpetrated by so many in the USA, to atone for our public policy sins at home and abroad, to atone for our “cultural flaws (if not crimes)” of selfishness, greed, lack of compassion, lazy indifference, blissful ignorance (“I don’t want to know about it”), favoritism of the wealthy, support of certain immoral corporations, and practices of religious and racial prejudice?
I believe that the battle begins inside each one of us and with those we can personally touch. Only I am having difficulty finding something constructive within my own rage at those that have twisted and used the principles of the USA to oppress and exploit people at home and abroad. Perhaps a first step is for each of us to express our rage in a communicative but non-harmful way.
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Part II: Requiem
Many believe that things don’t happen randomly, but rather with a larger purpose, a larger direction often unseen by us. Some call this God’s will (both Judeo-Christians and Moslems). Some call this destiny. Some call this Karma. Others believe we co-create the direction of life, acting in concert with the great creative “life-force”, whether you call it God, the Great Spirit, Allah, or a thousand other names it has in religions. That a “life-force” exists is proven by “entropy”. Entropy is a supposed “law” of science that postulates all organizations of energy tend to randomness (disintegration); therefor, over time, life forms should disintegrate, not “evolve” into new forms with more complex organizations of energy. In other words, science has no logical, scientific explanation of how humans could have evolved; the laws of science are against it. The only explanation left is that there is some scientifically unknown “life-force” which drives evolution to new and more complex forms.
If you believe in any form of a “life-force” and its’ ”larger purpose” for life’s events, you must certainly ask, “What purpose could be served here, with this monstrous attack?”
The answer could not possibly be for us to rise up and go to war with the rest of the world; that in itself is an even more monstrous act. The answer could be for us as Americans to now experience the monster, which we have unleashed on so many peoples and other inhabitants of our world, but which most of us have never had to experience first hand. The purpose could be to now have a personal experience, a personal reminder we will never forget or let slip away of how so many other peoples in America and throughout the world have already been feeling; people who are oppressed, exploited or outright attacked by certain elements of the power structure of our country. For too long a large segment of our power structure has been acting unilaterally, conspiratorially, violently, hypocritically, unscrupulously to profit themselves only at the expense of less empowered people and vulnerable, unprotected environments. It must stop. But only WE, American citizens, can stop our own demon, and we must never forget how it feels to be in the shoes of the oppressed and exploited if we are rise to the challenges of stopping that monster, the challenges this disaster presents to us.
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Part III: The Challenges
1. The first challenge is for Americans to hear this disaster as a wake up call. Hopefully, people will come to see its larger purpose, as discussed above, and stop viewing it myopically as a “war’ problem.
Yes, we can help the international community to apprehend and judge the conspirators in this disaster and other terrorists too, but, more importantly, if we do not come to see this terrorism as the result of oppression and exploitation that must stop, then the terrorism will never stop and will only grow. Our citizens need to move out of their mass consumer trance, out of their complacent indifference to become politically active. The political attitude of indifference, such as, “what difference can I as one person make?”, must shift back to the hope and promise of our founders, such as, “I can make the difference that only a citizen can make, coming together as a determining majority”. We must become educated to the issues and not swayed by lobbying and advertising campaigns of misleading information promulgated by exploitative corporations and political factions.
I hope that this disaster may start people dialoging again, talking about what is going on in the world and who/what is wrong and who/what is right, and what’s more doing something to make it right according to the professed beliefs and principles of our country. I believe in America’s founding principles and want us to rise up against the modern-day oppression and exploitation emanating from our own country against our own people as well as against foreign lands. I want us to rise up as we did in the Civil War against slavery and against states’ rights over Federal rights. I want us to once again stop being hypocritical, and to live up to the founding principles of our Constitution not only at home but also abroad. I want to be able to sing America the Beautiful with pride and confidence that I am singing the whole truth.
2. If we are politically awakened and active, what we do want is to move our citizens to see the exploitative elements of the USA and to move those exploitative people in positions of wealth and power to change. We want the exploiters to open their eyes to understanding others; we want to awaken their compassion for others and for the environment of the world and to lose their indifference and callous disregard of others. We want to rekindle their enthusiasm for our founding principles over their own greed and complacency. We want them to find a new purpose in life: that of being living examples of the message of our founding fathers and spreading a realization of those dreams across the world, not hypocritically talking as if we are but acting otherwise. Indeed, all Americans must awaken to once again be men and women of principle, of honor, of humility, of compassion and of grace and to take pride that they are so. This is a second challenge of the new millennium, of especially the twenty-first century.
3. However, there are rumblings of a “New World War”, “World War III”, and a “war on terrorism”. Such talk is sophomoric and belongs in the past. We have passed the age of war. We are leaving nuclear weapons behind and must leave war behind as well as a means of conflict resolution. We are now one world and must care for the world, all its peoples and environments, as we care for our own home and neighborhood. Because now the world is our backyard and all peoples are our brothers and sisters. A third challenge of the new millennium is to move beyond greed, self-indulgence and complacency to bring first ourselves and those we know into the light, and then to help the rest of the world into the light. The “light” means knowing how to find and create joy and fulfillment in ourselves without depending on or needing anything outside ourselves other than basic food, water, clothing, medicine and shelter. The “light” means finding more joy in love than in hate and selfishness. The “light” means integration of one’s body, emotions, mind and spirit into a being ruled by the heart and soul.
4. A fourth challenge is then to proceed to heal pain and suffering throughout the world, to enable all peoples to be self-determining, be it at home or abroad, to share the wealth of the world among all. Buckminster Fuller proved that in today’s world scarcity is a lie, an exploitative deception and there is there is plenty for all many times over (as long as some are not hoarding most of the resources and inequitably manipulating their distribution). We must stop these extremes of wealth and poverty, of opportunity and hopelessness, of medical immortality for the wealthy and lack of medical care for so many at home and abroad, of gold plated toiletries and dying, starving babies. We must stop the lie of scarcity and the inappropriateness of the gold standard.
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Part IV: Three Possible Strategies
There are limitless strategies to meet the challenges discussed above. And our citizens must work with the strategy that they find the most suitable and effective. This will not be a “holy war” led by demagogues. Ours will be a revolution of thousands, no, make that millions of points of “light”, that form an irresistible and incontrovertible creative force for evolution. It will be so leaderless there will be no “head” for the opposition to cut off and so kill the movement; everyone will be a leader in their own way. Below are three possible strategies by which the challenges might be addressed.
1. Civil Disobedience Against Oppression and Exploitation
One possible strategy to address the challenges of the new millennium is the creation in the USA of a non-violent mass movement to change the attitudes and policies of exploitative people in our power structure, or the exploitative elements of structure itself, by means of civil disobedience. Two wrongs will not make a right. I believe the challenge to rise up against oppression and exploitation can only be won with nonviolent means and compassion, as Mahatma Gandhi freed his country from oppression. We may have to look to civil disobedience and put our lives on the line like Greenpeace has been doing for so long to save our brothers in the sea. Only now we must put our lives on the line to stop those certain oppressive and exploitative policies of our power structure at home and abroad.
In the 1960’s some believed such a change in power and policy could only happen with militant confrontation and they were unsuccessful and were crushed; I believe any such militant effort would be crushed again. And besides, to use violence is to buy into the same hypocrisy that we’re trying to get rid of. We don’t want to be killing our countrymen or foreigners.
However, civil disobedience takes great courage and conviction. It takes the courage to put oneself in harm’s way, confronting, disturbing, disrupting and derailing oppressive and exploitative policies of our power structure. The perpetrators won’t like it and may be willing to harm or kill those who would so threaten them. It takes the conviction to persist abuse after abuse, through often-violent reactions.
Make the UN a True World Government
Whenever I bring up the UN with people they immediately pooh-pooh it, saying it is not really effective. If that is so, it is in no small part because the USA and other major powers have made it so.
For instance, consider the USA vis-a-vis the UN in the current crisis. In addressing this disaster the USA sought and got a UN Security Council resolution that such terrorist acts are abhorrent to the international community and must be stopped. But the USA did not go the additional extra step of requesting that our “seek and destroy” actions be done under the auspices of the U.N., with an international force, perhaps even predominantly USA forces. Instead, the USA chose to act unilaterally, making our own coalition of countries, with our own bargaining chips, and our own agenda. Why didn’t we want the auspices of the UN to justify our reaction to this attack and terrorism in general? Because our true agenda is further aggression, exploitation, and oppression and would be hindered by the UN? Because we couldn’t so easily manipulate and bargain for gains and position with other countries under the UN? It seems difficult if not impossible to come up with a “just” or honest reason to not undertake our reaction under the aegis of the UN The only reasons would seem to be dishonorable: secrecy, deceit, manipulation, exploitation and oppression.
No country is ready to subject its sovereignty to a higher power, to a world government. However, we are now seeing the results, the anguish and the chaos that is causing. Perhaps in the twenty first century we will become a one-world government if for no other reason than we are force to because there is no other way to resolve all the conflicts without destroying ourselves.
The current state of the world can be likened to the state of the USA prior to the Civil War. Today’s separate and sovereign nations feel the sovereignty the states felt at that time, even though there was a federal government (just as now there is a UN). A split developed in the USA. Some states felt they should retain ultimate authority over their people and some states felt the Federal government should be supreme. Most of those championing states’ rights also legally allowed slavery, an activity the other states considered unconstitutional and illegal. The Federal government decided slavery was criminal (illegal) and insisted that all states abide. However, those states favoring states' rights over rights of the Union refused to abide by that decision and seceded from the Union in order to maintain their sovereignty. Then, the Federal government would not allow that either, and went to war to impose its law on the secessionist, non-compliant states.
Today it is nations throughout the world who feel sovereign and many of whom are unwilling to give up their sovereignty to a higher power, to the UN as a world governing body. Not the least of those unwilling to become world subjects is the USA, and other great powers. However, as with slavery in the 1800’s, some nations are allowing activity to emanate from within their borders, which the USA and other nations deem “criminal” and “illegal”. If there are international criminals in other nations (terrorists and their coconspirators) and if the nations harboring them are not compliant with international investigation and with turning them over to international authority, the consequences are something for a world government to decide, not the USA acting unilaterally as policeman, judge, jury and executioner. Just as no one would expect or tolerate one adamant anti-slavery state to go to war with a slave state, the United States has no inalienable right to act unilaterally to invade others’ sovereignty in pursuit of whomever they believe to be international criminals. But there seems no other choice as long as the UN is not empowered over all nations.
However, a union of all states or nations may pursue and apprehend criminals in any one with impunity, and it may also take action, even if it means force, against non-compliant members (states or nations) with impunity. In other words, the UN should be empowered with a world-constitution similar to our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, not simply a peacekeeping charter. The UN must be empowered with a body of law to rule the world, not with simply conventions and treaties to address each crisis that comes up. And its executive branch should be empowered to keep those laws, to “police” the world, with a standing commitment of forces from all countries, while at the same time each country reduces it own national forces. And matters like the terrorists should be adjudicated in UN courts, not in any one nation, nor even a loose coalition of nations. . Furthermore, it must be empowered to over-ride any actions it deems internationally illegal by any country, and that includes the USA. The UN may need to be re-structured so as to be proportionately representative like our House of Representatives, so the power of the people speaks, not the power of the country or of some wealthy few. And other modifications may need to be made, but if there is intention these things could be worked out just as our forefathers in the USA did.
The USA government works to the extent of its pluralism, its true representation of the people, and the balancing of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. It works to the extent of its protection of our minorities’ rights and avoidance of tyranny of the majority (a situation now unfolding with “war” and “peace” camps on this issue). There is no reason these same truths should not work for the world as well. Maybe it’s going to take some international crises, some disasters like this one, among the major powers, maybe it will take more devastating terrorist attacks on the USA or other great powers, to push the UN into being a true world government. Doesn’t this sound familiar to our own history of British oppression and exploitation giving rise to our revolutionary acts, our war of freedom, and then eventually a union of states with our Constitution and our Federal government?
3. Healing and Changing Using our Native American Birthright
Now I am moved to explain something about Native American cosmology because it may provide a most important and essential tool for changing and healing our country and the world.
Our land and whosoever is born here has a special purpose in the world. It was passed on to us from the fore-bearers, the Native Americans, despite our very attempts at genocide and eradication of their culture and way of life. Their culture, their understanding of this land's purpose and the way the universe works (their cosmology) has survived at least ten millennia and has been passed to all native-born Americans. That purpose and special understanding is what they called “the Medicine Wheel” or “the Sacred Hoop”, the circle that is life.
In the circle of life all things are related and no one element operates without effecting the others. In the circle of life intentionality is as good (or bad) as action; to think a thing is as if to do it. And all intentionalities are contained in the circle, so whatever is put out bounces back on itself. For instance, if you have reverence for a road kill then you may not die needlessly and with disregard. If however you mock road kill or intentionally kill animals needlessly, then forces will work toward needlessly killing you or at least killing your dream of life. Or if you respect the life of an animal or plant that gives its life to sustain (feed) you, then you will find all stays in balance and grace. If however you kill wantonly or without regard for the life that sustains you, then you will lose grace and may die a wanton or disrespectful death yourself.
Everything has a place in the circle of life. In this regard, different sides or directions (N,S,E,W) of the circle hold or represent the various faces of any aspect of life. So the human-being circle has a side (direction) for the physical-body face, a side for the mental face, a side for the emotional face and a side for the spiritual face. The elemental circle has a side for water, land, air and fire. And so on with every aspect of life whether natural or manmade, each aspect having its own variety of faces. There are usually four faces to an aspect or circle, but I have seen as many as 96 faces for the circle of the world’s religions (one circle with eight sides or directions holding 12 religious “tribes” and a total of 96 religions). It seems many Native American tribes have the most important circles of life in common, though they may differ as to which side represents which face of an aspect. (My conclusion is that which side you say a face is on does not matter as much as including all faces in any given circle.) The circles provide a way to remember constantly that you and your world are made up of all the faces and that you must balance all the faces of each circle in your life (called “dancing the wheels”) to live in peace and grace. All the circles of life are layered into one big all-inclusive circle, called the Medicine Wheel or Sacred Hoop.
Now here is the point to this brief sketch of Native American cosmology. All the peoples and cultures within the USA and on the earth are in a circle together- kind of like a pie of peoples. Every people is a piece of the pie, and in this way there is much in common. But there’s a catch: like the different faces of other aspects of life, every piece of the pie has something the other pieces do not- its own face, its own special gifts and qualities, its own specialness that it offers to make the whole pie right. So we all need each other to make a whole pie, to be whole in ourselves and our world. Anyone, who thinks their piece of the pie is the only true pie and does not dance with all the other pieces, will be out of balance, their life out of grace. No one must be left out and no side of a wheel or piece of the pie must be left out of the dance of one’s life. All sides have something special to contribute: this goes for elements, human attributes, individuals in groups/neighborhoods, nations/businesses/the world, various ethnic cultures, religions, nationalities, geographies, environments, plants, animals, etc.
In the world revolution of the new millennium, of the twenty first century, our special purpose as a country can be to learn how to use this cosmology to tune our own lives, and those of our acquaintances and associates, our neighborhoods and workplaces. When we are proficient in the ways of the circles, of the Sacred Hoop and the Medicine Wheel, when can practice those ways in our own lives, we can then strive to share or contribute (not impose) this perception of the world, this cosmology, with everyone abroad. It will naturally work, and will work naturally, to unscramble our current strife because this cosmology is a healing way of life that this land has given to us, it is our birthright, and it is natural to us. We’re halfway there anyhow because it is there under the surface in most of us in the USA.
That may be because Native American cosmology is in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, which were in large part derived by our founders from the laws and cultures of the Iroquois Five Nations Confederacy and the Cherokee Nation. The idea of the Union of States with representatives from each parallels the Iroquois confederacy of tribes with delegates from each, which pre-dated the first gatherings of the British colonies to consider joint endeavors, including rebellion. The very idea of a congress (House or Senate) as a circle of equal representatives is related to a Native Council of Chiefs in which all leaders spoke equally; although some were more prominent for certain gifts they had, none was superior to any other in terms of having a voice and a vote. The idea of all the people equally electing leaders is the same as the Native practice of people choosing or dismissing their leaders at will, depending on their character and performance. And on and on.
But because that history is lost to so many, I think it is important we relearn it. Relearning the history of how our founding fathers, in creating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, were influenced by Native American culture and cosmology will make evident the relevance of trying to learn and practice as much as we can about Native American cosmology. That does not mean we should become “Indian-like” in our ways. It means adapting their self and worldview, their cosmology, to work for our lifestyle and our modern world.
How can we learn this cosmology? I got it in the 1970’s and early 1980’s face-to-face from medicine men that got it face-to-face from their forefathers, and so on to the ancient ones of this land. However, recently militant isolationist factions have won leverage in sanctioning many Native American medicine men not to share their cosmology with anyone but Native Americans (meaning only those who have bloodlines in America from antiquity, in particular of the “red race” now hypothesized to have emerged out of Siberia when a land bridge crossed to North America; there is some terminology trouble here as my teachers also taught that all born in North America have a birthright to the Native American cosmology, and so are native Americans in a non-ethnic, non-racial sense- hence the small “n” for native).
Nevertheless, the Hopi have a prophetic story that transcends the militant isolationist faction of Native Americans. The story is sketchily inscribed in rock in a sacred chamber (a kiva) but has mostly been passed on through verbal tradition. It is purportedly over 4000 years old. What follows is but a thumbnail sketch of the prophecy and its worldview, and I hope it does justice to the prophecy. (I will send a somewhat more detailed account written with Hopi oversight and with a diagram of the prophecy inscription to anyone who requests it)
The Hopi are those who have maintained living in complete accord with the infinite plan of the creator, which is balance of all the wheels of life. Opposing the Hopi are the arrogant forces that believe they can control and direct the natural flow of life to their own benefit. Like thieves who would steal life itself from all others, they are the exploiters, the oppressors, and the manipulators. But the more powerful the exploiters become, the more out of balance and chaotic life becomes, threatening to annihilate itself. This has happened before in “previous worlds” that were annihilated. The prophecy describes the time of potential annihilation of the current world and what needs to be done about it.
The prophecy describes three events and an unusual man-made phenomenon that, taken together, will identify the time of annihilation is drawing near and decisive action must be taken. First, it describes WWI leading into WWII. It particularly has the symbols of the swastika and rising sun for WWII. (There is however one anomaly here. Hitler adopted the swastika knowing it was the very powerful Hopi symbol of life, but he reversed the L-legs to go left instead of right, thereby turning it into a symbol of exploitation and oppressive power, a symbol of death.) The prophecy then describes our time of the atom bomb with its mushroom cloud and its poisoning of the people, the unborn babies, the land and water. The story says this is also to be the time that they will meet the man of the red cloak from the East (the Dali-Lama cloaked in red came to meet with them recently).
So the events up to the dropping of the atom bomb have fulfilled the prophecy. This then is the time for the Hopi to share the prophecy and their cosmology with the world. (In fact it was fulfilled at the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Hopi went to the UN with their story at that time, but it fell on deaf ears.) The Prophecy concludes that at this time a choice must be made by all peoples: those who heed the prophecy and the Hopi cosmology and choose to become one-hearted (straight-talking, truthful, honorable, caretakers of the people and the earth) shall live in this world forever with the great spirit, but those who will not heed and who choose to remain two-hearted (hypocrites, liars, deceivers, oppressors, exploiters) will dwindle and become extinct. However, if enough Hopi, a critical mass as it were, do not cross over to the one-hearted way, the world will annihilate itself. No one quite knows what that critical mass is, so it seems we must assume we need to get everybody turned.
There are many non-Native people who have learned Native American cosmology before the recent sanctions and there are some medicine men that defy the sanctions because of their own visions of the need to share Native American cosmology and/or because of the Hopi Prophecy. These wise elders can be invaluable resources in and leaders of our endeavor. Hopefully the medicine men still knowledgeable in the cosmology (many Native Americans have been raised without it and are not) can be encouraged to come out of isolation in a leap of faith, to come and help in this nonviolent world revolution, seeing their important potential role in leading it.
In any event, a nonviolent revolution, which is grounded in Native American cosmology against oppressive and exploitative elements of our country, will work because it is in our soil, it is in what we eat, it is in the air we breathe, it is in the fires we love to feel and smell, in the healing waters we drink, it is in our very physical and spiritual being. It will work because it is in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. It is in the principles espoused by our country’s founding fathers. We in the USA are a sacred hoop, a medicine wheel, in a conscious way unlike any other people on the earth. But we have neglected to learn this heritage from our Native American forefathers and do not sufficiently practice the Medicine Wheel, the Sacred Hoop, in our lives, and many are despoilers of such practice.
The concept and practice of life as a conglomerate of inviolate sacred circles around which we dance for balance and integration of all faces and thus grace, for balance and integration of all parts of ourselves and the world, which is called as a whole “dancing the Medicine Wheel”, is one important thing we can offer the world that is unique about our American piece of the world pie.
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