Monday, February 10, 2014

Peace Voices from the Past foreshadow "The World I Imagine"

A few days ago, Jim posted on my Facebook page a quote from a speech Omar Bradley delivered in 1948:

"We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner."

Omar Nelson Bradley, General of the Army, (February 12, 1893 - April 8, 1981), Armistice Day speech (November 11, 1948), published in Omar Bradley’s Collected Writings, Volume 1 (1967)

I wasn’t surprised that more than 65 years ago the decorated combat veteran predicted that, even then, we humans were heading toward self-annihilation if we didn’t change our ways. Six decades later, the end seems closer than ever. I emphasized one of the main reasons for that in a column first published in September 2004 and reprinted in my 2008 essay collection:

"Another problem can be found in the strong emphasis being put on education in science and math. At the same time, little or no attention is being made to the great need to train highly intelligent and creative people in such vital areas as sociology and political science so they can develop solutions to the global problems that threaten the very existence of the planet--many of which were caused by an over-reliance on science, without applying conscience in every decision."

from The World I Imagine, Chapter 8: Universal Education: Learning Problems

In a 2007 column reprinted in the final chapter of my book, I explained why one of the more bizarre ideas to avoid destruction is unworkable, and I offered a more reasonable solution:

"In the current world crisis, some people who are considered to have great scientific minds claim that the solution is for humans to travel to other planets. It sounds simple, except for the megatrillion dollars and centuries of effort it would take to bring even a small part of mankind to the point where they’d be equipped to perform that operation and take the trip--if they could even identify another planet in the vast universe on which they could actually survive!

"The real problem with that idea is that transporting humans who destroyed the earth in the first place into outer space so they can trash up the rest of the universe wouldn’t solve anything. People have no business leaving their own back yard until they first learn to behave themselves. If we can’t do the right thing here on earth, we certainly can’t be expected to do so out there in the rest of the cosmos!

"The only way to solve these problems is to establish entirely new ways of organizing every aspect of society. The goal of this effort should be to build a society in which each person is able to purchase all the basic goods and services necessary for a dignified existence at a cost of no more than half the amount earned by the lowest-paid full-time worker on the planet.

"Only then will we be able to end poverty everywhere on the planet. Only then can we begin to build a peaceful society all around the world."

from The World I Imagine, Chapter 12: Poverty and Politics: Institutions versus Individuals

The World I Imagine provides a positive look
at what our society would be like if no one
were forced to exist in a state of poverty
anymore and we actually lived together in peace.

Although The World I Imagine has received generally positive reviews, some people question whether it would ever be possible to implement ideas discussed in the book. I respond that every great social advancement began with a dream, an idea that was shared with and repeated by people of like mind, first one and then a few at a time, until positive change was implemented by thousands and, finally, by a majority of the people.

All we have to do to accomplish Step One is keep dreaming, discussing, and sharing win-win-win solutions for managing our problems. Sooner or later, they will become standard practice, replacing the destructive policies that have driven us so deep into the current social and political quagmire.

This view was shared by another peace lover who called herself Peace Pilgrim and who, coincidentally, died shortly after Bradley passed:

"In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful. Among mature people war would not be a problem — it would be impossible. In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war. However, people can mature just as children grow up. Yes, our institutions and our leaders reflect our immaturity, but as we mature we will elect better leaders and set up better institutions. It always comes back to the thing so many of us wish to avoid: working to improve ourselves. "

Peace Pilgrim aka Mildred Lisette Norman Ryder (July 18, 1908 - July 7, 1981), Steps Toward Inner Peace : Harmonious Principles for Human Living

"You have much more power when you are working for the right thing than when you are working against the wrong thing. And, of course, if the right thing is established wrong things will fade away of their own accord. Grass-roots peace work is vitally important. All who work for peace belong to a special peace fellowship — whether we work together or apart."

Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words (1982)
Ch. 11 : Transforming Our Society

And though many people look for simple solutions to our complex problems, my first essay in the collection, originally published in March 2004, includes these details about what needs to be done:
" ... while we dream of these goals, we need to understand that peace is not merely the absence of conflict. None of these artists mention the vast amount of labor that will be needed to end poverty and establish a just society for everyone in the world. Such information is too complicated to be contained in a single song. Establishing and maintaining a peaceful world will take a heck of a lot more creativity, dedication, and plain old hard work than the tradition of war ever exacted from the human race. Granted, a true state of peace would be a whole lot cheaper and far less traumatic than any old-fashioned war, but, to date, no one seems to know how to pull it off.

" ... I must be clear about certain points. I'm not talking about classless socialism or a totalitarian government. Those things have been tried and have failed miserably. But then, so has the current system of runaway capitalism that denigrates social conscience. As long as even one person goes hungry, cannot find a job, or is denied protection from abuse, the government we should all be able to depend upon is not working.

"But it can work. Every one of these problems could be managed and more, but not the way we're dealing with them now. The current system has too much wasteful redundancy, and too, too many gigantic cracks through which the weakest drop into oblivion. While some people have more than they could ever use, others are denied the help they need to lead productive lives as contributing members of society.

"So, while we must be clear about the ends, we must also be diligent about cleaning up the means. We must ensure that no one is being hurt or left behind, and we must ensure that everyone receives the basic services due to every member of a truly just and democratic society."

From The World I Imagine, Chapter 1: Building Peace Without Poverty: The World I Imagine

Finally, my publicity for The World I Imagine contains the following information about the book:

"Political and sociological experts consistently use three buzzwords when discussing solutions for social problems like poverty: holistic, systemic and systematic. [My] approach to the issues satisfies all these requirements. For example, [I] carefully [explain] how the archaic practice of feudalism continues as the model for labor and employment in the 21st century and fuels poverty.

"We have to make better use of human resources. When a person is laid off, they shouldn’t be paid a pittance for not working while they slip steadily into a lower economic strata. They should be able to use their expertise to help themselves and their neighbors until they can find a job that’s comparable to their previous position. Without unemployment, we wouldn’t have recessions, or their nastier ‘big brother’: depression, ... .

"[I approach] issues such as education, health care, disability and old age in similar fashion. Though [I organize] The World I Imagine into sections and chapters according to each subject, [I don’t] treat any one as a single issue that can be solved on its own. Instead, [I make] numerous cross-references to demonstrate how all these social issues relate as part of a complex social tapestry. [I share] the headlining belief of the Obama/Biden administration – that we should not only believe in Barack Obama’s ability to bring about real change in Washington, but also our own."

from Press Release for The World I Imagine

I will continue to add my voice to the chorus of activists stretching back over the millennia, who come from many different walks of life but end up sharing their positive ideas and precious energy in order to move us steadily forward in the cause of peace. I welcome people of like mind to join me in this effort. You’ll find many ideas for making many positive changes in my book so we can all do much more than merely dream of The World I Imagine.

The World I Imagine: A creative manual for ending poverty and building peace and my historical mystery novel, Lion’s Pride, are available through your local bookstore. They are featured at, Barnes & Noble, and most online bookstores around the world. Both are available for Kindle readers.

COMMENTS: The purpose of this blog is to share positive ideas for making changes that will help everyone, not just a narrow group of people. I’d love to hear more ideas for imprinting positive effects over a wide range of areas in our society.

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