“If governments won’t solve the climate, hunger, health, and democracy crises, then the people will.”
—Dr. Vandana Shiva, speaking at the founding meeting of Regeneration International, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica, June 8, 2015
“I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”
The time has come for we the people of the world to realize, before it is too late, our common destiny and to stop the run-away train that is driving civilization and perhaps life on a habitable planet over the precipice. Faced with threats of catastrophic climate change and nuclear obliteration, we have the duty and the obligation to take matters into our own hands, since our national and international civic institutions are failing to bring into reality the vision of the just, peaceful and ecologically sustainable world all humanity seeks. It must be a society of self- governed peoples ruled only by the principle of the Common Good.
Realization of such a vision will necessitate an end to the wars and militarization of society that has characterized so much of the recent history of civilization, with the resultant damage to human freedom and to the health of the planet. The Great Turning, the telling of a New Story of reconciliation and caring amongst the peoples of the world is not just a Romantic dream. Rejection of the Old Story of separation, competition, fear and retribution is a pragmatic necessity for survival. We must live by a new narrative, the re-establishment of our relationships with each other and with the planet we call home. We need to revisit the wisdom of the ancient peoples who are still among us and understand these relationships. It’s time to get on board the “Love Train.”
Some of the tasks that we will undertake to achieve the objective of demilitarization include a change from the commercial and nationalistic values that place profit and material possessions ahead of the value and dignity of human life. We must, through divestiture and non-violent civil disobedience, de-industrialize the war machine and pressure the hold-outs to end nuclear lunacy. We need to literally “beat our swords into plowshares” and use the funding to meet the needs and well-being of we the people
Without justice, we will have no peace. We will put an end to the neo-liberal policies that are widening the disparity of wealth to the point that the bottom half of the world’s population—3.5 billion people—owns less than 2 percent of the world’s wealth. Economic injustice breeds anger and conflict, as well as deprivation, suffering, and loss of dignity. But injustice is not just economic. We will build institutions that protect civil and human rights, perhaps with a peace- keeping force that mediates disputes and protects against violence. We might begin with a process of reconciliation and restoration that recognizes the harms done by past military and diplomatic interventions, opens our borders to those seeking asylum and survival, and cares for the needs of the Other as members of our human family. We are in this together!
However, peace and justice will not prevail unless we take immediate steps to mitigate climate chaos. We will end the curse of fossil fuels and their incorporation into every aspect of our society, including plastics, pesticides, and fertilizer. The chemicals used in factory farming destroy the organisms that can actually absorb and retain carbon in the soil. The methane released by fracking and drilling to garner more oil has far more impact on the atmosphere than CO2. And the heavy weaponry and vehicles required by the war machine release more carbon into the atmosphere than any other contributor. The wars are fought for the oil resources that are needed to continue the wars. We will break this damning cycle. We will turn to renewable energy and sustainable use of the earth’s resources. And the soil will save us.
As the glaciers melt and drought sets in, we will find that water is more precious to life than any other resource. We will work to become Water Protectors, as modeled by the indigenous people of the world, who understand their connections to the soil and the natural environment. We will also plant and protect the world’s forests and grasslands as natural carbon sinks. Since the effects of our past environmental follies are already upon us, we will open national borders to allow seekers of survival and asylum to move freely to find better living conditions, where they still exist, as our family members. The impacts of climate change are coming faster than predicted by computer models, and the time we have left to mitigate these environmental and social impacts is very short. Is it possible that climate catastrophe will allow the human family to finally realize our peril and work in collaboration to save ourselves?
The U.S. media, with some exceptions, bear much of the blame for keeping violence normal in the world’s leading rogue nation, reinforcing the idea that intervention by our military is the preferred solution to global conflicts. In order to tell the New Story, we will become our own story-tellers, educating ourselves on an ongoing basis and modeling our lives and actions on the concepts of mutuality. We will have to become our own media and change the narrative from glorification of violence and militarism to one of empathy and concern—telling the human story that meaning lies in service to others. We will write, speak, make videos and plays, according to our own experience. We will tell our own story and learn from the stories others tell. We will dare to speak truth to power, with rallies, public forums and demonstrations. We will encourage the making and appreciation of art and music and all forms of cultural creativity. And we will teach the children well.
Peace requires justice, which requires sustenance for the people, which requires ecological sustainability, which requires peace. The connections are so close that it is hard to identify the objectives and tasks which will lead us to our vision. The New Story of love and connection must replace the old assumptions which separate us. When the peoples of the world recognize their connections and awake to the reality that society has lost its ethical moorings, we will rise in solidarity to work for the abolition of the institution of war and the safety and stability of the World we hope to leave with love to our children.