Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nonviolence is the future

As Pope Paul VI asserted on January 1, 1972:
If you want peace,
work for justice.
The Occupy movement largely failed to create an identity group of the 99 percent in the US, and instead, ironically, often succeeded in pushing middle class citizens into supporting the status quo. Sigh. If you want justice, create a sympathetic image. That's my corollary to PPVI's New Year's aphorism.

We know about the US income and wealth inequalities. What about Earth?
Three areas—North America, Europe and the rich Asia-Pacific (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand)—own 88 percent of global household wealth.
(Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, p. 418).

This leaves Latin America, Africa, the so-called Sub-Continent, and the Middle East (even including oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Iran) sharing just 12 percent of global household wealth. As long as this disparity exists, are we surprised that the Southern Cone has "gone socialist" (except Colombia, whose citizens are still terrorized by paramilitaries from right and left and by their own US-supplied military)? Is it news to us that all societies in the Middle East and most of them in Africa are staunchly anti-US? Some are Islamist, but that is in many cases more of an identity refuge than a real ultimate goal. If people feel oppressed and cheated, they will assert some serious identity just to feel self-respect.

The world is awash in weapons, the US military is clearly incapable of enforcing the US economic advantage much longer as asymmetric struggle (both violent and nonviolent) is gaining in ability to create impasse or even victory over the US or US-backed regimes that have guaranteed the flow of profits to US corporations for decades. Our new role on Earth is undefined, but nonviolence will need to be central to it or we will continue to decline, not just in material wealth, but in willing partners. 

We can wait until it's on top of us or we can begin to change now, proactively. We can choose to lose or we can win alongside everyone else. If a superpower develops strategic nonviolence, it will clearly be by choice. The secret is, this would be the wise choice, the choice of a citizenry with enlightened self-interest.

Ramsbotham, Oliver, Woodhouse, Tom, and Miall, Hugh (2011). Contemporary conflict resolution (3rd ed.). Malden, MA: Polity Press.

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