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You want to save the world?

January 16, 2012

I’m just watching my cat friend Rosy wagging her tail and I am pondering about the evolutionary advantage of having a tail. Cat tails are incredible expressive! One just has to watch the tail and the ears of a cat to know exactly how she or he feels.

The facial expressions of cats are also very telling and they don’t much differ from ours. Domestic cats have advanced the ability to communicate far beyond their wild ancestors and they are able to clearly express their intentions, wishes, and feelings. But this is not the subject matter of this post and I better continue writing about the original theme because I want to finish the text today.

We all want to change the world and make it a better place, don’t we? As I sift through the myriads of comments, notes, messages, elaborations, rants, and tirades on news pages, blogs, chartrooms, social networking sites, and chat clients there appears to be one common sentiment. A sentiment that is voiced in a mind-boggling variety of terms and expressions but nevertheless can be compacted easily into a few essential statements: The world is in a bad state, everything is messed up, things are going into the wrong direction, we are doomed. And the uniform conclusion resulting from this uniform analysis is, that we have to save the world!

The intent to save the world may be uniform, but the approaches and proposals and detailed plans for change differ and are often contradictory. People disagree about the solutions because they view this life from different angles and they live in differing realities and their grievances are not the same.

As sad as it is, “saving this planet” is unlikely to become a coordinated effort. There is undoubtedly a majority of people who want to save the world, but they want to save the world for a variety of reasons and their goals are conflicting and antagonistic.

One reason for instance that instigates the desire to save the world is the fear of a socialist, communist, marxist, anarchist, atheist, nonconformist takeover of the beloved motherland and the installment of rules and regulations that are alien to the true nature of the nation.

Other reasons are the fear of alien immigrants, who could endanger the cultural values and traditions and destabilize the social fabric, or the fear of big government, which could waste tax payers hard earned money for social security or universal healthcare or free education instead of letting the principle of natural selection sort out the unfit.

There are people who want to save the world from non-believers (infidels) or followers of non-christian religions, and there are people who want to save the world from various conspiracies (New World Order, Mind Control, Jewish conspiracy), and from secret fraternities like the Freemasons, Skull & Bones, the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group etc.

There are also people who want to stem the erosion of traditional values and save the world from gays and lesbians, from dropouts and slackers, vegetarians and penny pinchers, and from all the weird individuals who ride bicycles instead of driving SUVs and either don’t own a cell phone or if they have one use it hardly ever, weird individuals who reject genetically modified food or industrial manufactured food in general, weird individuals who spend their free time with garden work instead of flying to faraway holiday destinations.

If one of the reasons, that I listed in the last four paragraphs, is the driving force which makes you want to save the world, you should leave this web page instantly because you will only be annoyed by the following text. Maybe you would even be provoked to an angry comment and successively become the object of ridicule by other blog readers. It could be an unpleasant experience and I strongly suggest that you stop reading this text and instead switch on TV.

You didn’t stop obviously, as you are reading this sentence and I have to ask: What other reasons are motivating you to continue?

You could be a low level CIA analyst who stumbled onto this text through a SAS/VSTI real time sentiment analysis. In this case I can assure you that I feel very honored to have caught your attention but I fear that you are wasting your time. I am dedicated to non-violence and therefore I will not write anything that could make it possible to declare me a terrorist and deploy a MG-1 predator drone to drop a Hellfire missile and convert my lovely home into a smoldering ruin, killing me and my innocent wife and our five cats. My cats are unfortunately not dedicated to non-violence and they are terrorizing mice and birds, but I don’t think that this fact will ever justify the deployment of an expensive Hellfire missile.

If non of the above applies to you, you are probably dismayed, disheartened, frightened, worried, upset, incensed, disgusted, horrified, terrified and whatever else may be an appropriate term for your state of mind by the following issues:

Ravaging wars, oppression, occupation, exploitation, aggression and violence

Social injustice, income inequality, gender discrimination and ethnic discrimination

Corruption, treachery, cronyism, greed, hubris and ignorance of the ruling elites, resulting in a broken social contract and the abandoning of social obligations and ethical restraints

Environmental destruction, reckless plundering and wasting of precious resources, carless use and dispersion of dangerous substances (POPs, heavy metals)

Implementation of new and risky technologies (biotechnology, biogenetics, nuclear technology) and use of new materials with disregard of possible harmful or even catastrophic long-term effects (nanomaterials (carbon) and chemicals in consumer products like bisphenol-A, triclosan, alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), phthalates, ethanolamine)

If you are dismayed, disheartened, frightened, worried, upset, incensed, disgusted, horrified, terrified by one or more or maybe even all of the mentioned issues, I feel with you, I understand you. We should do something against these threats — we should indeed start right now and try to save the world!

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So it is true, that you want to save the world? Of course you want, don’t blush!

If we want to save the world, we have to change the world, and the obvious starting point is our personal conduct. We know ourselves better than anything else and we know our shortcomings and we can control and change and reorganize our personal lives easier than anything else. We also have to start with ourselves and clean up our own act because we will not be able to propagate new standards and ideals if we ourselves don’t adhere to these very standards and ideals.

This is a very slippery terrain and one has to be careful not to appear pretentious or pompous or be misunderstood and misconstrued. The following statements are personal conclusions and may or may not apply to you, you are free to accept or reject the ideas, you are free to take it or leave it.

My personal conclusion is that I have to organize my life in a way that uses as little energy and resources as possible and causes no further harm to nature. That means: bicycle riding instead of car driving. Growing my own food in the garden, planting fruit trees. No meat, only vegetarian diet. No more shopping, no new gadgets, no traveling, no vacations. Using my cloth until it falls in pieces. Repairing, updating, and adapting things instead of replacing them (one exception: LED lights). Avoiding banks and other financial services. No credit card.

I’m not the only one who tries to live in this austere and modest way. There is a growing movement of people who change their lives and try to drop out and disconnect from the corporate networks and reorganize themselves. This movement is manifested in various blogs and websites, here a few examples:

http://www.transitionnetwork.org/
http://www.transitionus.org/
http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/
http://transitiontownsaustralia.blogspot.com/
http://transitiontownpeterborough.ca/
http://transitionmedia.memberlodge.com/
http://rowdykittens.com/
http://www.greenlivingonline.com/
http://www.simplelivingtv.net/
http://onthelevelblog.com/
http://www.freecycle.org/

Saving the world is a tough job and there are no shortcuts and no tricks allowed. If you are not able to change and attain a sustainable lifestyle yourself, how can you expect that other people change their life? You will not be able to persuade and convince anybody if you are not a shining example and a role model.

If you are smoking, drinking, gambling, needlessly driving around in your car, constantly checking emails or texting on your iPhone or your tablet, shopping and dining and wasting time in restaurants, pubs, clubs, you should not attempt to save the world and you should also not pretend to attempt to save the world — it would be mendacious. And you should stop reading this text!

Maybe this is too harsh, maybe this is indeed pretentious and pompous. Martin Luther King was smoking and there are suggestions, that he was a womanizer and unfaithful to his wife Coretta. If you are as charismatic as King was, if you are able to galvanize the aspirations and dreams of the people around you like King did, shortcomings like this will not impede you significantly. You will still be able to make a major positive contribution to our combined effort of saving the world (though your sisters and brothers in mind most likely will make a serious effort to help you overcome your nicotine addiction.)

Are you able to deliver a speech like Kings speech “I Have A Dream” or his speech “Beyond Vietnam”?

Maybe I’m very lonely now, but if anybody is still left here, let me present to you a few ideas in the following paragraphs that could be incorporated in a new paradigm and could be a blueprint for a “new society”. I intend to write down more details and more ideas in another blog post with the title “Plan Z”. This is an excerpt of the first rough sketch of Plan Z:

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Plan Z v.0.68

Every person shall live her or his life in the most efficient way using the least possible amount of energy and resources and causing the least possible harm to fellow creatures and to nature in general.

Everybody shall have the chance to develop her or his full potential and to contribute to the wellbeing of her or his fellow creatures.

We have to stop reproducing until the world population has stabilized at a sustainable level of around four billion.

The following proposals are derived from this basic ideals:

The economic organization of a new society

Competition is replaced by cooperation. There are no industrial secrets and there is no intellectual property — discoveries, scientific findings and acquired know-how are available to everyone. If a production line or a business operation is not viable, it has to be audited by experts who decide either to upgrade it with advanced technology or to close it down and integrate the workers and all assets into other firms in the same field. Trade is replaced by computer controlled distribution and sophisticated computer models are used to choose between low volume local production and centralized high volume mass production. Transport is shifted to waterways, railways and airships (dirigibles, zeppelins, blimps).

Advanced computer modeling and computer simulations allows to predict the most efficient size for every industrial process. The international production and trade of indispensable goods (computers, industrial control systems, telecommunication equipment, electronic parts for appliances) will be negotiated between nations to find the optimal locations (most times this will be at existing factories though with a reduced production volume).

Container use and computerized ports and terminals have revolutionized trade already, the new society optimizes it further by eliminating competition and the resulting redundancies and organizing the flow of materials and goods in a global concerted effort.

The same principles are applied to regional and local supply systems. Railway lines are reactivated, rebuilt, and extended to reach even the small and remote towns and villages. big production facilities have their separate railway connections and terminals. Goods are principally shipped by rail, using small containers with a length matching the width of the railway carriage. The containers slide on rails into slots of the carriages, the process of putting in and pulling out the containers is done by specialized forklifts and takes only a few seconds. There are also smaller containers with only two thirds and one third of the length, so that two or three of the smaller containers can together occupy one slot of the carriage.

A similar system is already used in todays container trade, where two small containers have exactly the size of a big unit. As the regional and local container transport will include highly differing amounts for the various destinations, a system with three sizes is better suited.

A particular shipment of goods between a source (for instance a workshop, a factory, a farm, a mine) and a destination (end-users or processing facilities) will be organized online and the railway software will determine automatically the most efficient route, the necessary number and size of containers and the best time — just like the nodes of the internet do it with the data packages that are sent back and forth between billions of senders and recipients. All containers and big parcels have RFID tags.

The loading and unloading of the containers with specialized forklifts takes just a few seconds, as already stated before, and the empty slots are instantly filled with empty containers from earlier shipments. The railway software tracks all containers and knows how many empty containers are on a railway station and where they will be needed next. The computer in the railway station shows the assumed amount of received containers as well as empty containers, therefore discrepancies can be instantly reported to discover and correct errors.

The goods are loaded into small vans to be shipped from the railway station to the end users and to workshops. Bigger companies fetch the goods and materials with their own vans and small trucks, which have slots for the containers like the railway carriages.

The transport from the railway station to the final destination is done by the traditional postal services which were integrated with the parcel services. There is no long distance road transport anymore.

Supermarkets and shopping malls are replaced by online ordering and postal delivery. The online shopping portals are non-profit services accessible for a modest fee by everybody who wants to sell.

Car owners have to join regional car drivers associations, the membership fees are used to pay for the obligatory annual technical checkup and for the maintenance of roads and bridges. Roads and bridges which are not highly frequented can be excluded, they are then closed for car traffic and have to be maintained by municipalities/districts or be abandoned.

Many highways, freeways, and expressways are no longer needed and they are rededicated and rebuilt in various ways. One possibility is, to use the lanes of one direction by setting up rows of small houses intermingling with workshops, depots, communication centers and other communal facilities. The lanes of the other direction are used as a two lane road. Alternatively one or two lanes can be used to build new railway tracks.

Existing high-speed rail lines are maintained but not extended. Mobility is not the first concern of the new society. Most people live in close proximity to their workplace and telecommuting has revolutionized work conditions in areas like software development, scientific research, and administration.

Industrial farming is not viable anymore because of oil scarcity, which causes high prices for diesel fuel, inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. The mentioned materials are also heavily taxed because of their negative environmental impact. Big fields are separated into small areas with hedges, little woods, and biotopes in between. Innovative tools which work with muscle power enable gardening and farming without heavy machinery, equipment that uses horses, donkeys, and cattle is reintroduced in advanced versions.

The replacement or upgrading of machines, appliances, devices, tools with advanced and more energy efficient equipment is on every level decided by standardized computer calculations which balance the energy savings over time with the energy and resource consumption of the manufacturing process for new devices. Upgrading and repairing is the preferred option. Waste minimizing and recycling is accompanied or even replaced by methods of “upcycling”. Repair, restoration, refurbishing of homes, facilities, bridges and other infrastructural buildings are the norm, demolitions are avoided if possible.

There is no unemployment because all necessary work is distributed evenly inside a community, which can be a neighborhood committee, a municipality, a district. Telecommunication and advanced software make it possible to organize work and production efficiently and reevaluate and reorganize the production facilities and the distribution networks constantly on every level (this would be already possible with todays technology and computing capacities, but it cannot be realized because either competing companies hinder each other or monopolies who own the marketplace don’t invest in new technologies and there is no integrated planning of infrastructure and production).

Wealth and conspicuous consumption are not desirable and not tolerated. People can own a comfortable home and some space around it but everything else is common good or nobodies property and therefore off limits. Factories and corporations are basically owned by their employees, but profits are collected in various community funds and state funds. A hierarchical day to day management is possible, but important decisions have to be made collectively. Banks and investment firms and stock exchanges and insurance companies are dissolved and there are only rudimentary bank services left which are non profit and have the sole purpose of organizing the flow of money. Production and distribution of goods is controlled by (legitimate) demand and not by purchasing power, in many cases there is no money involved and pricing is used only to make a comparison and evaluation of products and distribution methods possible and to detect inefficiencies and fraud. There are wages which can differ depending on the skills, the importance of the work and implied dangers and inconveniences. Bonuses for extraordinary effort and achieved quality are possible but the difference between highest and lowest wages must not exceed one to eight.

There are no taxes except on energy, resources, and (unavoidable) pollution. The infrastructure and vital services like health care and education are paid from the various funds where taxes, profits, fines, and donations are collected. Underfunded communities will be helped by affluent ones but money transfers are not automatic and have to be approved in a political process.

Education, healthcare, basic services like water, waste disposal, electricity, telecommunication networks, postal services are organized at the appropriate level, that means for instance: Primary schools and primary care physicians are organized by municipalities, hospitals and higher education by districts or groups of districts, universities and medical research by states. Services are decentralized if it is possible and viable, the ultimate decision between local and central organization will again be made with the help of sophisticated computer models.

Heritage and property rights are meaningless and replaced by the just distribution of resources. There will be no “Tragedy of the Commons,” because nature and all natural resources are not a common good (as Hardin acknowledged already by himself). The land, all plants and all animals are entities in their own right and resources are used as if they were only borrowed or bought with the implied obligation to refund nature in the form of habitat restoration, replanting, reforestation, reintroduction and care for endangered species, intelligent small scale agriculture which harmonizes with or even enhances nature, research in natural phenomena and the small scale application of scientific findings in fields like biological pest control and biological detoxification.

The political organization of a new society

A new more transparent political system is achieved by the incorporation of modern science and technology. The internet makes it possible to replace many instances of representative democracy with direct democracy.

The new society is organized in three or four levels of representation. The basic cell is the “Neighborhood Committee” with not more than 256 members (alternatively 128 members). It elects a representative to a “District Assembly” which is constituted by up to 256 neighborhood representatives (alternatively 128 representatives). Each District elects a representative to the “State Assembly” with 256 or alternatively 128 district representatives.

Neighborhood committees with 128 to 256 members.

Districts (or towns) with 128 to 256 neighborhood representatives
representing 16,384 to 65,536 people.

States with 128 to 256 district (or town) representatives
representing 2,097,152 to 16,777,216 people

265 members in an assembly are a large number and that could lead to the neglect of minority voices and an either chaotic session process or a strict and procedural process which would stifle discussion and instigate stalemate.

A restriction to 128 members on the other hand would make it necessary to install four levels, which means that the leaders are more remote from the basis, though the democratic process in the committees and assemblies is easier to manage.

A four level structure:

Neighborhood committees with 64 to 128 members.

Municipalities with 64 to 128 neighborhood committees
representing 4,096 to 16,384 people.

Districts with 64 to 128 municipality representatives
representing 262,144 to 2,097,152 people.

States with 64 to 128 district representatives
representing 16,777,216 to 268,435,456 people

The parliament is constituted of three fractions:
The Keepers of the Flame
Their number is always half of the district representatives = 32 to 128
The district representatives
Their number can be 64 to 256
The meritocrats
Their number is always half of the district representatives = 32 to 128

The Keepers of the Flame and the meritocrats hold their seat until they retire or die. In case of retirement or death a previously chosen candidate steps in immediately. The Keepers of the Flame are exclusively female and they nominate female candidates for their replacements by themselves. The candidates join the assembly in the same order as they were nominated, nobody can jump ahead. The number of candidates should be not less than half the number of sitting members.

Replacement candidates for meritocrats are chosen by the district representatives and the Keepers of the Flame together, but the votes from the Keepers of the Flame weigh double, that means the Keepers of the Flame can block a nomination. In case of a deadlock an arbitration committee of the parliament has to negotiate and look for candidates that are accepted by a majority.

Every neighborhood committee meets once a week on Saturday evening. Every citizen is welcome. Important new cultural, social and political developments are reported and all decisions of the higher level assemblies are discussed. The meeting room of each neighborhood committee is equipped with a computer plus beamer and has also a direct encrypted link to the central parliament office.

Decisions of assemblies can be disputed and overruled by a majority of neighborhood committees. If a decision is disputed, an election will take place in the following week and everybody who attends the weekly meeting will be able to cast a secret vote. A permanent voting cabin is setup in every meeting room, the voting procedure is clearly defined. The votes will be cast on paper ballots that are sent via internet to the computer in the meeting room and printed out there before voting (if attendance in a neighborhood committee is low, at least no paper is wasted).

The neighborhood committees and also the assemblies can overrule any decision of the higher instances except decisions of the parliament. The vote of lower instances binds the district representatives, but not the Keepers of the Flame and the meritocrats, which means that even an overwhelming public vote could be blocked if the non-elected members of the parliament uniformly reject it.

Such a situation would constitute a severe political crises and the arbitration committee would have to work very hard to find a solution out of this impasse.

The new society has no president or prime minister, only sixteen cabinet members with equal votes. Eight cabinet members will be chosen by the caucus of district representatives, four by the Keepers of the Flame and four by the meritocrats. The cabinet has to file a weekly report to the parliament enlisting all major decisions.

The new society is preferably locally organized in small and independent entities. Most of the decision making and also the responsibility rest on the neighborhood committees and the municipalities/districts. The state government is responsible for healthcare, education, infrastructure, energy and resource exploration/mining.

The general organization of healthcare is the responsibility of the state, but the hospitals are supervised by the districts and the primary care doctors are payed by the municipalities or even by a group of neighborhood committees.

In the same way the outlines of the educational system are decided by the parliament, but the primary and secondary schools are under the authority of the municipalities or in some cases groups of neighborhood committees.

Big infrastructural projects like railway lines and bridges are controlled by the state, streets will be administered (though not funded) by districts. The telecommunication infrastructure (internet, phones) is controlled by districts, postal services by the state.

Waste management and water is the responsibility of neighborhood committees and municipalities together. Every political entity is responsible that no neighboring area is negatively effected by its decisions and can be held liable and subjected to heavy fines.

The jurisdiction is organized exactly like the political institutions. Each neighborhood assembly elects a judge. Municipalities/districts elect a court with four judges. The high court is elected by parliament (or by lower assemblies, which can overrule any decision). A high court judge could be also elected by the population, if the majority of neighborhood assemblies oppose the candidate chosen by the parliament and if the Keepers of the Flame and the meritocrats don’t block the vote. The high court has eight members and no arbitration, a stalled court means, that the appeal is rejected.

The social organization of a new society

This society is based on ideals of free access to all information, free education, and free access to all viable means of communication.

Education is free at all levels. 60 percent of the courses in primary and secondary education are obligatory, the other 40 percent can be chosen according to the talents and abilities of the child.

Primary education starts with six years and lasts for six years till the age of twelve. Primary schools are small and nearly in every village, serving only a few neighborhoods. Class sizes are restricted to 16 pupils, the classes are led by two teachers in tandem.

Secondary education lasts also six years till the age of 18. Secondary schools are bigger entities and they all have dormitories. There are no school busses, but train travel is free and the children from remote areas have to go by train to the school and stay overnight in the dormitories. The obligatory courses are at the start of the week, and pupils which only attend the minimum of courses will be able to go back home Wednesday afternoon. They can spend the rest of the week working as apprentices or learning specialized skills in separate courses provided by colleges, conservatories, companies, factories, and various non profit organizations.

Higher education in colleges, universities and conservatories (art schools) lasts also six years and can be started at any time in life. Normally it will start with 18 but older people can enroll in higher education at any time after passing an ability test. Applicants who fail the test can take introductory courses. All courses are filmed and available to everybody online. There are many TV channels, formerly used for propaganda (aka news), advertising, sport, and entertainment, which broadcast university and art school courses around the clock.

All scientific research is done on universities and colleges, private research centers of corporations and government research (which was mainly for military purposes) are integrated in universities. All scientific progress is freely accessible and useable, there are no patent laws and no intellectual property rights.

Motor sports (like NASCAR) are not possible because of strict environmental regulations and restrictions, enforced by heavy fines. Competitive team sports in general are in decline because there is no advertising of private companies and no sponsorship. Competition and big noisy events with thousands of people clearly contradict the spirit of this new society.

There are no Olympic Games, no FIFA, Rugby, or Cricket World Cups, no playoff and world series, no SuperBall. Big stadiums are parted into small areas which can be used separately for open air concerts, theater, opera, ballet, art installations, exhibitions, fairs, and other shows. The areas of stadiums which face the sun are often used as solar farms or as terraced vegetable gardens.

Athletic training to achieve high performance has still its place but not as a means to beat competitors. High performing athletes are showing their skills in the spirit of the shaolin monks and they are becoming teachers of their art, mentors, advisors, trainers. They pass on their knowledge in the same way as virtuous musicians do it when they teach a new generation of musicians.

Education and art are key factors in the new society, but there will be a lot of work to do even for the uneducated: environmental cleanup, care for the elderly, planting trees, protecting endangered species, growing vegetables, weeding and other less complicated work in gardens and farms. Everybody can take part in the community effort of securing crucial supplies and living a natural and harmonious life according to her or his abilities.

Health care is free. Hospitals are reduced in size or closed down and replaced by small local clinics. Patients are preferably treated at home.

Families have no special status, but lesbian and gay relations are encouraged and revered because they are childless by nature. Polyandrous marriages are also promoted as a way to curb overpopulation and solve the problem of regional gender imbalances. Vasectomy and tubal sterilization are free and rewarded by various benefits. Prostitutes are regarded as social workers and get a special comprehensive training in psychology, social counseling, hygiene, and safe sex practices. They are also regularly tested for sexual transmitted diseases.

Everybody has to undergo an annual blood test for communicable diseases. The result is available online accessible via password, so everybody can prove to her or his partner the status at any time. This test and also a voluntary second annual test are free, further tests have to be paid.

Pornography, that meets certain standards, is considered as art and education. Pornographic films have to teach the viewer how to treat women respectfully and make sex the most pleasant experience for both partners. Suitable film of this genre can also be integrated in secondary education.

Despite a universal paradigm shift, a new society nevertheless has to deal with criminal behavior, which is regarded as metal sickness. The main emphasis is on treatment, persistent repeat offenders, criminals with untreatable mental disorders, violent and dangerous individuals have to be separated. Rapists, child molesters, and violent sex offenders are treated with castration. The most dangerous persons have to live in high security camps which are set up in remote and inhospitable areas. There is constant electronic surveillance. The camps are organized in neighborhood committees like all of society and the inmates have to provide most of their food by themselves. The system is somehow similar to the Bastoy island prison in Norway or to the British policy of sending criminals to Australia in the 18th and 19th century.

There is no military in a new society. Bombs, missiles, and canons are dismantled, military vehicles and military infrastructure are converted to civilian use. The existing arsenals of small arms are slowly used up by police. Men are not allowed to bear arms, the police forces are made up of women. Female police officers, who have to use a weapon and are killing an attacker in self defense will not be punished, but will be reassigned to duties without weapons. Civilian weapons and hunting are banned, the control of dangerous animals and invasive species has to be achieved by natural means and only in cases of emergency is done by intervening female police officers.

About the Keepers of the Flame

The Keepers of the Flame, also known as the “Wise Women of the World” were a group of distinguished women (mostly in their 50s and 60s) who created a discussion forum over many years and took over after millions of humans died in environmental catastrophes and the helpless and clueless leaders stepped down or were chased out by the furious populace. The Keepers of the Flame had worked on “Plan Z” for many years and had developed various nationally/regionally adjusted, detailed variations of the plan. They were called in and helped by the remnants of state authorities and a few sane military leaders who were facing the prospect of failed states, complete anarchy, and the demise of the human race.

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To most of the readers (if there are any left) this excerpt of “Plan Z” probably sounds very utopian and completely detached from reality. Sometimes a visionary picture has to be painted to show the direction, even if it is clear that in this complex life an ideal state of affairs is not achievable.

Furthermore, everybody who is not delusional will be aware, the we are far away from the proposed new paradigm and from a new sustainable society. And despite the courageous and determined efforts of quite a few individuals, it is only a tiny minority which tries to change their lives. The herd is still stampeding and fast approaching the deadly cliffs, and unless billions of TV-brainwashed minds are reprogrammed and the immoral and crooked plutocracies are eliminated, the lemming migration will not turn away from the cliffs.

The lemmings are deadly sure, that everything is okay and that they are heading into the right direction, because all their companions around them run into the same direction! This effect is called “the idiocy of the crowds”.

I’ve described possible scenarios in my blogposts The most creative solution, Mothers of the world, and The ethical cat. I will contemplate and debate other scenarios in further blog posts. I don’t believe in miracles but I see a slight change that genius innovations or the charisma of outstanding individuals — prophets, teachers, dissidents — could turn the tide.

No matter what happens, the minority of unwavering souls who dropped out of this consumer society will not cede and will not surrender. Change will come in one way or the other and change could come sooner than expected, though it unfortunately could be very ugly:

POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants), heavy metals (arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead), and the pollution of air, water, food with various other man induced substances could cause an epidemic of cancer.

Industrial produced food (especially GM food), EMF radiation from cell phones and computers, an unhealthy lifestyle with too less exercise and too much sensory stressors (constant noise, constant distraction by phones and computers) could cause a general decline of health.

The overuse of antibiotics in factory farming and in healthcare could cause an increase of fatal drug-resistant infections. Complete hospital wards could have to be quarantined and sealed off completely to prevent the further spread of “superbugs,” with corpses left rotting in the hospital beds.

The continuing spread of HIV and other STDs and the danger that these infections become an uncontrollable epidemic is vastly underestimated. HIV and other STDs could become a health concern for the general population.

And if developments of this kind are not enough to raise eyebrows and make people feel uncomfortable:

Birth defects could increase dramatically. The already mentioned epidemic of cancer could become more severe and reduce life expectancy to 60 years and below. A worldwide ebola or influensa epidemic could kill two billion people or more.

Don’t forget the nuclear option: A nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan could settle the Kashmir conflict once and for all and kill a few hundred millions.

Seven billion people are too much in anyway.

When catastrophes of such unimaginable proportions will become reality, far more individuals than the few unwavering souls that I mentioned will think about alternative ways!

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I want to end this blog post with the two speeches of Martin Luther King that I mentioned earlier on. The speeches are rhetorical masterpieces and their content is still valid and they could be useful templates and inspirations for the aspiring “saviors of the world”.

Here is the text of Kings speech “I Have A Dream,” that he gave on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington in August 1963:

“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check — a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds”. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundation of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “when will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed — “We hold these these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, and rough places will be made plains, and the crooked places will be made straight,and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the south. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning ‘My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’

And if America is to be a great nation this must come true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California.

But not only that — let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

==================

And this is the text of Kings speech “Beyond Vietnam,” that he gave at the Riverside Church in New York, April 1967:

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read it’s opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church — the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate — leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission — a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for “the brotherhood of man.” This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men — for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the “Vietcong” or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not “ready” for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators — our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change — especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy — and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us — not their fellow Vietnamese — the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go — primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one “Vietcong”-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them — mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force — the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on — save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front — that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the north” as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them — the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:

“Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

1.End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
2.Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
3.Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
4.Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
5.Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military “advisors” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken — the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept — so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force — has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on…” We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world — a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

==================

Just as a side note, even Martin Luther King had to pay for his shortcomings, call them minor or major, insignificant or serious: The FBI distributed reports regarding Kings extramarital affairs to the executive branch, friendly reporters, potential coalition partners, funding sources of the SCLC, and King’s family. The FBI also sent anonymous letters to King threatening to reveal information if he did not stop his civil rights work. One anonymous letter sent to King just before he received the Nobel Peace Prize read, in part: “The American public, the church organizations will realize that they have been helping an evil beast. So will others who have backed you. You are done. King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significant [sic]). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

As I close down, a final clarification concerning the conspiracy theories (New World Order, Jews, Freemasons, Skull & Bones, Illuminati, Bilderberg Group), which I mentioned at the start of this text. There may be some truth in a few of the conspiracy theories but there is no evidence that this is the main underlying cause for the dismal state of the world. I believe though in the “conspiracy of the corporations,” which buy the best government they can get (the “permanent government”) and have converted most Western democracies into plutocracies.

I hope it was a relaxing, uplifting and entertaining reading (just kidding). I hope it was at least inspiring and interesting. I am deeply sorry if it was annoying or unsettling. In knowledge of my weaknesses I have to stick to the things that I can do best. I have to leave the relaxing, uplifting and entertaining part to TV and Hollywood, they are so good, so perfect in creating a dreamworld that helps us to ignore the grim realities of life. I never could do it that well, so I rather play the part of the “spoiler,” which suits me better.

Needless to say that not only my rough sketch of Plan Z v.0.68 but the whole text is a work in progress and that I would be very glad about comments and suggestions and constructive criticism.

2 comments

  1. A lot to absorb here, Mato–have you thought about writing science fiction? Have you read Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing? Her dream of the future is quite similar to yours, including having women as “keepers of the flame”–

    Thanks for putting these radical ideas out there, we need them and more!

    Like


  2. […] (This is from my blog text You want to save the world?) […]

    Like



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