Wednesday, July 12, 2017


by Galen D. Kirkland

The most important question facing us today is how we can make the transition to a greater global civilization before we destroy the planet and ourselves. At this critical juncture in history, we need to take our responsibility for world governance more seriously than ever. International systems for managing global problems and resolving conflicts have broken down. The United Nations failed to address the conflict in Syria while over 400,000 people were killed by the Syrian government and millions became migrants; Russia is conducting a cyberwar against the United States, France, the Ukraine and other nations in an attempt to undermine democracies; China is aggressively claiming islands in the South China Sea despite the ruling by arbitrators under international law that such actions are illegal; the NATO Treaty is being undermined by the Trump administration of the United States; the Venezuelan people are being denied food and medical care by a repressive government; millions of people are threatened by drought in Sub-Saharan Africa;  North Korea threatens other nations with nuclear war, and the destruction of the Islamic Caliphate established by ISIS is leading that organization to increase terrorist attacks in various nations.

The complex of current global crises demands that humankind establish a new framework for global cooperation and decision making. Nuclear proliferation, climate change, unsustainable development, corruption, poverty, terrorism and various wars are making life untenable for billions of people and presaging unprecedented disaster. While informed people in all nations can see this bleak circumstance, the world is paralyzed by greed, cynicism, and fear. The United Nations represents the best hope of humanity but continues to fail in addressing the most pressing problems. The Security Council is paralyzed by the veto power of nations that cannot see beyond national advantage and cannot embrace responsibility to all humankind. Tribalism prevails at this crucial juncture in history when the world has become in fact one vast commonwealth.
What is required to dislodge the antiquated, myopic frame of mind that continues to produce mass tragedy and chaos? The vast majority of people everywhere want basic changes that will make life tenable for everyone, not just the privileged few. The world needs strategies and policies that will make sustenance and dignity available to everyone. Most of those in power have no commitment to this aspiration.

Nothing short of the Universality of Concern will allow humankind to progress beyond nationalism and violence. A commitment to human rights for everyone is the missing motivation that will allow the world to make progress toward a  civilization free of violence where dignity is accessible to all. The sordid record of human history has imprisoned the world in a paradigm of aggression and domination that disallows true compassion and sharing. In 1948, the United Nations attempted to point the way with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This noble effort was overwhelmed by the competition between rival political systems and the refusal of colonial powers to assume responsibility for their exploitation of the majority of humankind. 
Generation after generation wrestles with the same conflict between higher ideals and the law of the jungle. Achieving the Universality of Concern for humankind means that we evolve to apply the principle of granting to everyone the consideration that we seek for ourselves. All major religions point in this direction but this essential guidance is ignored. Pericles, the great leader of ancient Athens, provided a definition of a statesman thousands of years ago. He said that a stateman knows what to do, knows how to describe it, has a love for his country, and is incorruptible.  We need world leaders with these qualities who can make it possible for humankind to effectively address our problems without aggression and distrust being the primary motive. People across the globe would have to insist on this transformation.
The practical steps needed to begin progress toward the establishment of rational, humane world governance would include:

  1. An open, serious global conversation about ethics and morality in governance. This would shift the conversation away from Machiavellian power politics and the amoral analysis that currently dominates discussions of international affairs.
  2. The definition of the characteristics of sound, reliable leadership as a template for decision making by electorates around the world.
  3. Amendment to the United Nations Charter to implement weighted voting in the General Assembly, and to provide for regional representation on the Security Council with the elimination of the veto.
  4. Effective sanctions against nations that refuse to cooperate with the initiative to intelligently address global problems and avoid war. Exclusion from international trade is one possible strategy.

The journey from the status quo to a rational, humane world order should be driven by intense pressure from advocates and populations in countries across the world. Local leaders and nongovernmental organizations can communicate to their communities the imperative to transform world governance in order to make respect for human rights and the survival of humankind possible. The barrier of nationalism will be identified as an unnecessary distraction from human progress.  While this scenario seems to be incredible, it is true that these objectives are indispensable to the establishment of security for the majority of the people on the earth. A global, nonviolent movement is required to wrest power from the various dictators and organized crime that currently rule most of the world. 

Although most ordinary people are focused on their own income security and status, their support for progress in world governance can be elicited with a clear communication of the linkage between their predicament and international systems. International trade that supports the massive misallocation of resources through corruption and misplaced priorities denies billions of people sustenance and opportunities to prosper. Multi-national corporations shop the world for the best opportunities to pay less to workers while exploiting natural resources around the globe. A system of world governance that established universal standards for worker compensation and benefits would begin to address this crisis. 

A global movement for world federalism and peace has been the focus of advocates around the world since World War II with many fluctuations in the support for these efforts. This lynchpin for human progress is currently invisible to the vast majority of the world’s population because it has never been communicated to them while they are preoccupied with their struggle for survival. Advocates need to send the message that world federalism and peace are necessary for respect for the dignity and human rights of everyone to be achieved: for life to be more than a daily struggle for survival. The world has seen global religious movements shape history when great multitudes of people embrace hopeful spiritual messages. At this most critical juncture in the history of humankind, it is clear that another comparable movement is required for the progress and survival of humankind. 
Let us call this new movement the Universal Awakening. We must issue a call everywhere in the world for people to awake from the nightmare of hate, greed, and absence of concern for other people. History has exhibited the suicidal nature of this self-defeating approach that has impeded human progress for thousands of years. We have finally reached a turning point that cannot be ignored. Let us begin.

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