2. It's every man for himself.
While our religious institutions pay lip service to the "all in it together" view, our far more influential commercial institutions worship at the "every man for himself" shrine. We take the Darwinist (actually social Darwinist) credo at face value, "survival of the fittest." Actually, more recent research in biology tells us that the real "natural law" is "survival of the fitting." That which best fits the environment, survives. And in the current environment -- a world on the brink of either great disaster or great breakthrough -- "survival of the fittest" doesn't fit. Why? Because we can no longer afford to spend the energy and resources protecting ourselves from each other.
I've been inspired recently working with cell biologist Bruce Lipton on a book where we seek to apply the wisdom of the body to the body politic. Your body is a "community" of 50 trillion cells closely cooperating to bring the world "you" every day. Cells may look different from each other, have different duties and needs, but cells and organs "understand" they're all in it together for the good of the common organism. They're in "competition," only in the original Greek meaning of the word, "to strive together." Each system is striving together with the others to create health and functionality. In other words, it's not a normal state of affairs for the liver to invade the pancreas and claim the Islets of Langerhans for its own.
What if we looked at the nations of the world -- the peoples, the tribes -- each as an organ designed to make a unique contribution to the whole? Sound too idealistic? Contemplate the alternative, then. Consider that biology tells us that cooperation engenders greater efficiency, effectiveness and awareness. Or, if you're into the Scriptures, consider that not even the religious right has been able to twist Jesus's words into "Blessed are the war-makers," or "the mightiest armies shall inherit the earth."
It's the Behavior, Stupid!
So how do we generate the "moral authority" to stop the killing and cultivate the forces of cooperation? The first step is to make a distinction between people (or "a people") and their behavior. Justice in its simplest form is applying rules fairly across the board. This would seem simple enough, but we're conditioned by habit to exempt ourselves from the rules we make for others. A friend of mine who was a private eye in a city we'll call "Metropolis" once attended a party where high level officials -- including a well-known judge -- were snorting cocaine. My friend had the audacity to approach the judge and say, "Isn't this what you send people to jail for?"
The judge replied -- without a lick of irony -- "Oh, well those people are criminals."
The first important step -- and this can be undertaken by an alliance of existing peace and justice organizations in the world -- is to come to some agreement as to the appropriate behavior on this "shrinking world that could definitely use a good shrink." This is a conversation that should be taking place in every town and village on the planet, from exclusive suburb to primitive village. Seriously. We have -- in the form of the World Café
and other nonviolent communications models -- plenty of techniques for calling forth extraordinary wisdom from ordinary folks.
In ratifying a "Declaration of Interdependence" or whatever we call it -- from the grassroots up -- we are establishing "new rules" based on the One Suggestion of "We're all in it together." This doesn't mean some sticky co-dependent relationship where the working stiffs support parasites. On the contrary, it infers participation. In the body, there is universal health care and full employment -- truly "no cell left behind." But every cell must participate.
In contrast to the "death trip" our current regime seems to be on, guaranteeing us perpetual warfare, loss of civil liberties, environmental destruction and growing gap between rich and poor, what if we began to "feed" the "we're all in it together" paradigm? What would it look like to live for our countries instead of dying for them? What if we declared a new mission for the world, to go along with the "new rules": We are here on the planet to re-grow the Garden from the grassroots up, and have a heaven of a time doing it.
By what authority would we or could we do this? Well, by the authority of all we know in our heads and in our hearts. Put another way, ancient wisdom and modern science BOTH can't be wrong, can they?
Moral Authority -- From the Ideal to the Real Deal
What if -- as suggested earlier -- enough people around the world, influential and otherwise, ratified a standard of behavior that would apply universally? What if this were presented to the United Nations -- currently a very flawed institution, but all we have internationally -- as a mandate? These are the universally-applied principles that we the people of the world agree to hold ourselves to.
Would this mean the military would "disappear?" Of course not, not anymore than you would want your immune system to disappear. But the role would change so that resources could be mobilized in times of need or disaster, and so that very targeted operations could be initiated against "sociopathogens." From time to time, we might expect "preemptive non-force" to fail and a disagreement to degenerate into violence. Or perhaps, a criminal gang needs to be defused and disarmed.
In these cases, there is a need for a completely transparent "police action" to see to it that the malignancy (i.e., toxic behavior in violation of the guidelines a vast majority of humans agree on) doesn't spread. If you consider the inventiveness of weapons makers, could you imagine "weapons" that temporarily immobilize without doing harm? Seriously. Or humorously, for that matter. What would have happened had Israel dropped nitrous oxide on Hezbollah?
Fundamental to this new world view is the unwavering understanding that war itself is a "racket" good for "absolutely nothing." At the same time, we must also realize the awesome opportunity -- that we humans have the intelligence, the imagination, and the technology to play and win what Buckminster Fuller called the World Game: "Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."