Planetary Citizenship: One People, One Planet, One Peace

(This is section 58 of the World Beyond War white paper A Global Security System: An Alternative to War. Continue to preceding | following section.)

Planetary Citizen Pancho Ramos Stierle displaying the Earth Flag.

Humans constitute a single species, Homo sapiens. While we have developed a marvelous diversity of ethnic, religious, economic, and political systems which enrich our common life, we are in fact one people living on a very fragile planet. The biosphere which supports our lives and our civilizations is extremely thin, like the skin of an apple. Within it is everything we all need to stay alive and well. We all share in one atmosphere, one great ocean, one global climate, one single source of fresh water endlessly cycled around the earth, one great biodiversity. These constitute the biophysical commons on which civilization rests. It is gravely threatened by our industrial way of life, and our common task is to preserve it from destruction if we wish to live on.

Today the single most important responsibility of national governments and governing agreements at the international level is the protection of the commons. We need to think first of the health of the global commons and only second in terms of national interest, for the latter is now totally dependent on the former. A perfect storm of global environmental disasters is already underway including unprecedented rates of extinction, a depletion of global fisheries, an unprecedented soil erosion crisis, massive deforestation, and accelerating and making these worse, a climate disaster in the making. We face a planetary emergency.

The commons also includes the social commons which is the condition of just peace. All must be safe if any are to be safe. The safety of any must guarantee the safety of all. A just peace is a society in which there is no fear of violent attack (war or civil war), of exploitation of one group by another, no political tyranny, where everyone’s basic needs are met, and where all have the right to participate in the decisions that impact them. Just as a healthy biophysical commons requires biological diversity, a healthy social commons requires social diversity.

Protecting the commons is best achieved by voluntary consensus so that it is a self-organizing process from below, a function of shared values and mutual respect that arise out of a sense of responsibility for the planet’s well-being. When consensus is not available, when some individuals, corporations, or nations do not care about the common good, when they want to make war or degrade the environment for gain, then government is needed to protect the commons and that means laws, courts, and the police power necessary to enforce them.

We have reached a stage in human and evolutionary history where the protection of the commons is necessary not only to the good life for humanity, but to our very survival. This means new ideas, especially the realization that we are a single planetary community. It also includes creating new associations, new forms of democratic governance and new agreements between nations to protect the commons.

War not only distracts us from this vital task, but it adds to the destruction. We will never end conflict on the planet, but conflict does not have to lead to war. We are a highly intelligent species who have already developed nonviolent methods of conflict resolution which can, and in some cases are, taking the place of violent means. We need to scale these up until we provide for common security, a world where all the children are safe and healthy, free from fear, want, and persecution, a successful human civilization resting on a healthy biosphere. One people, one planet, one peace is the essence of the new story we need to tell. It is the next stage in the progress of civilization. In order to grow and spread the culture of peace we need to reinforce several already ongoing trends.

(Continue to preceding | following section.)

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2 Responses

  1. I would like to see you spell out “one people” so that anyone who reads understand that it means: “men, women and children”. I expect that you already agree that those who are affected by decisions should take part in making them, e.g the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child considers rights of provision, protection and participation.
    However, regrettably, in the here and now, “people” and “decision makers” are often… “men”, and even good men may not have awareness of the lives of women, or at least, not sufficient awareness yet.
    So something that I would add to this:

    People = Men and Women and Children
    Each voice must be heard.
    Decision makers need training in listening.

  2. My work has been with learning cities and regions ie places that understand that the learning of all citizens lifelong is the only way that leads to a future that is be stable, creative, peaceful, prosperous and a happy place to live. 10 years ago I managed a an EU project to link stakeholders in cities in 4 continents. My dream is to see 100 groups of cities – one from each continent, exchanging ideas, knowledge, experiences and resource, in schools, universities, companies, communities and administrations rich and poor – . That I believe would do much to reduce tensions, misunderstandings and provide rich new resources(not necessarily financial) for each other. The technology exists and its doable. The website shown is not my own but one which provides many learning resources, mostly developed by myself, for people and cities interested in the learning city idea.

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