The Cold War is over, but don't tell that to some of the American presidential candidates, or members of the US Senate who are dedicated to "rebuilding" that country's defence - even if it means ignoring scientists and once again raising the spectre of nuclear conflict.
Politicians have a responsibility to rely on the best scientific advice when making policy decisions about science-based issues. Unfortunately, paranoia, dogma and nationalism often overrule common sense. Two such cases involving nuclear weapons typify this problem.
Last fall, the US Senate refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a promise by 150 nations to end forever all nuclear explosions. The Senate decided a test ban would be unenforceable because some countries might carry out nuclear tests in secret, and because confidence in the US nuclear arsenal could diminish if the US didn't carry out underground nuclear explosions.
Both arguments are nonsense. First, provisions of the CTBT included creating a comprehensive monitoring system (much of which already exists) that would have been able to detect even small nuclear explosions anywhere on the planet. Physicists and seismologists the world over agreed that the system would work. A group of 32 Nobel laureates even petitioned the Senate to ratify the treaty, as did the prestigious American Geophysical Union and the Seismological Society of America.
Second, from a purely technical perspective, there are more efficient and safer ways to test nuclear weapons than blowing them up. The vast majority of nuclear detonations were done during the weapons' development stages, not in subsequent years to make sure they will still explode. The United States still has thousands of warheads. In order to obtain a statistically relevant "confidence" figure, the US would need to detonate a great number of these weapons - at tremendous financial expense and environmental damage. Further, as Kurt Gottfried of the Laboratory of Nuclear Studies notes in the Jan. 13 Nature, only one per cent of all potential defects discovered in warheads examined between 1958 and 1992 were found during underground explosions. The vast majority were discovered during standard lab tests.
The American rejection of the test ban means that it is now less likely that two of the most volatile nuclear nations, Pakistan and India, will sign on. In fact, they may now continue to develop and test nuclear weapons, which could prompt other countries in the region, such as China, to do the same.
The test ban rejection isn't the only case of American politicians ignoring good science in the name of "national security." Plans to develop a missile defence system are still in the works, (they have been since 1968) and are supported by some current US presidential candidates, in spite of the problems that have plagued such systems for three decades.
Creating a way to protect the US against ballistic missiles from so-called "rogue" nations may seem like a good idea at first, but a reliable defence has proven elusive. Just three of 17 tests since 1984 have actually been successful. And experts such as George Lewis of MIT say that missile defence systems will probably never work because it's too easy to develop countermeasures against them. In fact, rather than increasing safety and world security, the very existence of a missile defence system could provoke other nations into stepping up their arms development. It's a dangerous situation, especially in light of the US failure to support the nuclear test ban.
So while the Cold War is over, the threat posed by nuclear weapons remains, for even a minor nuclear conflict would be absolutely devastating. Actions that serve to legitimize nuclear weapons and their testing make little sense except to bolster a nation's military ego and engage in senseless and dangerous sabre-rattling.
Visit his website at www.davidsuzuki.org
Every square foot of the North American continent is 'owned' by some individual or by the government. If we go back far enough into the past we'll realize that initially there was only Nature. Then a biped came along and proclaimed - This area now belongs to me. And he held onto it until it was either sold or stolen from him by a more barbarous or powerful specimen of virility.
Nature never asked and certainly was never compensated for every ounce of gold and silver taken out of the ground. Man said these are now our resources and if you want them you're going to have to pay us. And so we've come to the point where most of us own something, or at least have temporary custody of that parcel of land or that gold Rolex, and when we die others inherit and fight over our "stuff".
Having things has become the measure of a man (and woman - after she was finally allowed to participate in the game). Every year lists are compiled of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Every year lists are ... Hold it, hold it, you interject; what is this leading up to - some kind of Commie dressing-down of our mercantile system and the malignities of the so-called military-industrial complex?
Actually, no; even though the New Age is all about progressing to a higher plane of realization and not about vaulting into a higher income tax bracket. The object (whether CD player or ten million dollar mansion) is not the problem. The issue is all the energy we devote to acquiring these novelties and notions, not to mention the accretive exertion of hanging onto them. And we have to laugh at ourselves sometimes, don't we? At the guy who is afraid to drive his $100,000 Ferrari downtown because it might be stolen or scratched by someone in the parking lot. At the matron who wears her precious ruby necklace once every year to some gala affair and keeps it in a safety deposit box the rest of the time.
Youngsters can be more easily forgiven for that sense of 'attachment'. A sixteen year old who is given that first major ego extension - a used car - cannot be faulted for spending entire Saturdays waxing it and subsequently vesting more energy into it than he does into helping around the house or in doing his school assignments. A treasured object can become an integral part of one's self. More importantly, an object can even assume the status of a living, breathing entity and the question eventually has to be asked - Do you possess it or does it possess you?
One of the pivotal lessons of the maturing process is mastering the contradistinction between 'being' and 'having'. The self-images of many people are so interfused with their personal possessions and property that it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that whenever the stock market crashes countless lives are shattered and some even end up jumping out of boardroom windows.
And materialism is only the tip of the 'attachment' iceberg. Unhealthy alliances are constantly formed between people and other people, vocations and interests. Statistics show that a significant percentage of men who suddenly lose their jobs also seem to forfeit their sense of self in the process, and the longer they're unemployed the more depressed they become and the more likely they are to take their frustrations out on others. All of their prestige has been invested in and hinges on their 'roles'.
Other people become so wrapped up in personal, civic or nationalistic causes that violence and murder become justifiable and pardonable because they are the means to a 'higher' end. Unconditional allegiances to mentors and gurus can make any injunction or preachment seem reasonable and even holy (and as recent events made all too plain - you castrate and kill yourself because your 'leader' has told you that a space ship traveling behind a comet is waiting to whisk your sorry astral ass away to another plane of being).
It is one thing to eat nourishing food and exercise regularly so that your physical vehicle can radiate optimum health. It is quite another to spend hours each day in the gym looking in the mirror and sculpting your pecs, or undergoing liposuction, breast augmentation and countless nose jobs and face lifts in order to live up to someone else's definition of beauty. Everyone wants to look good but if you're fixated by your appearance (and by how others see you) it may be time to ask yourself why you feel so vulnerable in this area.
Show Me The Money
A very wealthy individual who does not also possess a sense of civility, grace, empathy and spiritual maturation is like a lovely delicate dead flower. What does it say about you if you give more TLC to your Alfa Romeo and your antique silver tea service than you do to your sons and daughters? And how can any materialist understand the 'inner' if he/she spends every waking moment in the superficial, subsisting on the periphery of truth/life?
The New Age is not urging anyone to give away their possessions and to walk naked into the forest to abide with the birds and creatures like Francis of Assisi. Probably only saints and simpletons can find true joy in poverty. In fact the New Age advocates prosperity consciousness by stipulating that:
You will always get what you inherently believe you merit.
So go to the store of life not with a single shopping bag but with a truck!
Develop the capacity and art of acceptance. It is better to give AND to receive.
There are not enough loaves and fishes to feed everyone? Nonsense! The Cosmic will provide.
No, money is not evil. It is an energy, a tool. We can use it for the good of others or to purchase something for ourselves which we feel we deserve. But as El-Ghazali so aptly pointed out - we really only possess "whatever will not be lost in a shipwreck". If you can't liberate your consciousness from the object (occupation, cause) then how do you know that your 'self' will not agonize or dissipate if the object disappears? The more you possess the more you stand to lose.
Pathological attachment is a chimera. It is bondage, a hurdle on the track towards self-understanding. It requires so much more stamina to vault over it than to simply walk around it. The true disciple of life realizes that those people who are systematically bonded to things, to societal conditioning, to living in the past or the future, rarely experience and fully enjoy the only moment that really carries any weight - the NOW!
Before reacting in anger to the horrible attack by terrorists on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, the people of the United States and others need to reflect carefully on what are the real causes of terrorism and what are the best solutions to this difficult problem. To answer a devastating terrorist attack with more terrorism will likely cause continuing terrorism. Certainly mass murderers must be brought to justice, and the entire world should unite in that effort. The intelligent question is how that justice can be brought about without making the problem worse. The statement by President Bush that no distinction will be made between the terrorists and those who harbor them may resonate with angered people, but it indicates at best a lack of subtlety and at worst a dangerous escalation that could punish innocent people who were in no way responsible for the crimes. Certainly the question of complicity must be examined; but surely there is a different response warranted for murderers or for those who have passively tolerated their existence. Let us not repeat the mistake of punishing an entire country for the crimes of individual criminals as the United States has done recently in Iraq and Yugoslavia on many occasions.
Talking of war is a dangerous escalation of rhetoric. We need to examine the terrorism of our own government as well as that of others. The United States has been supplying Israel with weapons in its continuing attacks against Palestinians fighting for their rights and homeland. Both the Palestinians and the Jews are using criminal methods, which are not to be condoned; but we must examine our complicity that makes many people, especially Muslims, hate the United States with such vehemence. If the United States truly believes in freedom and democracy, as its leaders so often state, then we should support the efforts for an international court of law for the world. The faulty election process in the United States has made many people realize that this society has lost much of its democracy, which is increasingly controlled by the wealthy corporations that dominate the media and the corrupt elections. The latest attempt at world government, the United Nations, is dominated by the five original nuclear powers, does not represent the people of the world but only the national governments, and is not democratic since the Security Council can be blocked from acting by any one of those five nuclear powers.
In the short-term the important principle here is justice. If President Bush truly wants to bring the criminals to justice, then he will support fair trials for individuals rather than a lynch-mob mentality that would punish not only individuals but innocent bystanders as well by military means. Justice is best achieved by enforcing individual responsibility by an unbiased judicial process under the constitutional guarantees of law. No nation or group of nations has the sovereign right to arrogate to themselves the punishment of human beings outside their borders without any legitimate judicial process.
The best long-term solutions are a democratically elected world government in a constitutional and federal system that will preserve the rights of all while bringing effective law enforcement everywhere in the world based on universal laws rather than by the military force of the most powerful nation-states. If we go on failing to work for real justice of all people, then the terrorism is likely to continue, because the people who feel oppressed by the super-powerful United States and its ally Israel will use whatever means they can, including suicidal missions, to fight back. At a tremendous military disadvantage, a handful of daring people used only knives and their adversary's jetliners to destroy thousands of innocent people and part of the infrastructure of world trade. Will police-state methods of searching at airports be able to prevent all such acts in the future? Perhaps the next terrorists will use martial arts with no weapons at all, or they might use chemical or biological weapons.
Ultimately we need to learn how to make peace and establish justice, not by adopting the terrorist methods of the criminals, but by protecting everyone's rights, learning how to share our wealth rather than merely exploit people, and trust in democratic institutions that recognize the votes of all. We need a steady process of disarmament with very careful inspection so that no individual, group, or state can terrorize other people. Finally, we need world democracy that can enforce law fairly for all, not a group of powerful nations imposing their selfish will with national military forces.SANDERSON BECK, Ph.D., is a prolific writer and peace activist. In 1982 he formulated World Peace Movement Principles, Purposes and Methods and traveled to 47 states and met with 600 peace groups to promote disarmament.He lives and teaches Philosophy (and other subjects) in Ojai, California.
Visit his comprehensive and eclectic website at www.san.beck.org
As if there isn't enough evidence already that we all reside in a global culture rooted in the bedrock of situational ethics and moral relativism, we are now confronted with the laughably recent (but oh so timeworn) argument about the precise definition of a terrorist.
Since September 11th of 2001 both George Bush and Osama Bin Laden have been fighting the good fight against "evil". You may think you know who the terrorist is and who the freedom fighter is but, not so fast, my friend.
All Israelis would agree that people who strap bombs around their waists, board a bus, and detonate themselves and a dozen innocent citizens going home after a hard day's work - well, these individuals are certainly terrorists. Palestinians would counter that an occupying force that has driven them from their land, razed houses/villages to the ground and killed protesters in the street - well, these are the real terrorists. Would even Solomon be able to sit down with both sides and reach a consensus on these propositions?
It's fairly clear that the PLO/Hamas have been responsible for the deaths of civilians. But - were the early leaders of Israel during the mid 1940's (Menacham Begin et al) also terrorists? During the fight for statehood they carried out a violent struggle (and almost 100 people were killed in the King David Hotel incident alone).
How about one of today's icons - Nelson Mandela? He and his cohorts initiated a violent campaign against the government of South Africa. He stayed in prison for such a long time because he never officially renounced violence. But - you exclaim - he was fighting the abomination of apartheid. However, if the end justifies the means, if violence can be sanctioned in certain instances - then who decides which struggle is just and which is not? If Mandela's followers can use force why can't the Palestinians?
I have never heard or talked to any American who was awash in guilt over the two atomic bombs used on the Japanese during the Second World War (killing 200,000 and subjecting untold thousands to subsequent radiation / birth defects). The U.S. could certainly have made the same point and impact by unloading this destruction in an area where there weren't so many civilians. But, the average Yank continues, we saved countless lives by doing what we did and shortening the war. Fine; the end justifies the means again, and so by this logic all denizens of the world who are in states of declared or undeclared strife and military operations can rightly feel vindicated for the methodology which they intend to utilize.
And so it was with the Communists, the fascist Latin and South American despots of the 70's and 80's, the African dictators of today, the ongoing hostilities in places like Croatia and the sabre-rattling in India and Pakistan as we speak.
We could go on but we won't get very far by quantitatively attempting to measure the 'righteousness' of every cause. It's a game played by the foolish, the ignorant and the unawakened. One would think that five thousand years of history would have taught us that the cycle of violence and counter-violence has reaped a bloody harvest of hundreds of millions of burnt offerings on the altar of agony, duplicity and 'un'consciousness. And what makes it worse is coming to the realization that all this mayhem has been engendered by a relative handful of men.
There are a few hundred Israelis in prison today because, although they love their country and will defend if attacked, they refuse to venture into Palestinian territory to intimidate and possibly shoot at human beings who are, in reality, their brothers and sisters. They represent scattered individuals all over the globe who refuse to follow the decrees of unwitting and unenlightened politicians and are instead following the dictates of the Master Within. They have probably consciously or subconsciously realized that there are no evil people walking this earth — simply individuals who are unilluminated and motivated by ignorance and hatred.
If it's true that suffering and agonizing experiences translate into conscience — and then wisdom — it sometimes seems that it could take another five thousand years before enough people realize that they are being hoodwinked and lied to by megalomaniacs with sinister agendas in positions of power. It is the duty of Lightworkers all over the planet to ensure that this will not turn out to be the case.
Terror struck our American neighbors. Its shock waves still reverberate around the world. It was not a rag-tag band of suicide bombers hoping to inflict random casualties; it was a superbly well orchestrated guerilla maneuver. The terrorists turned passenger airliners filled with volatile aviation fuel into guided missiles and slammed them into the financial and military heart of the United States with pinpoint accuracy. This act of terror was professionally executed and it most likely succeeded beyond the wildest imaginations of the terrorists themselves. The damage certainly went beyond the wildest imagination of every ordinary human being on this entire planet!
The professional agents of the Israeli secret service, MOSSAD, or the American CIA, could not have done a better job! For the first time in history, the US Government declared war on an enemy who has no national boundaries, who has no real estate to destroy, who has only the intangible fanatical faith that their cause is just. In fact, this enemy believes that their cause is so just that they are willing to die for it. The justice based on "an eye for an eye" of "a tooth for a tooth", is Old Testament based. All it has ever done is perpetuate and perpetrate a culture of violence, a cyclical order of war and peace relentlessly replacing one another. Even the periods of peace were but time outs before the next conflict.
Two thousand years ago another paradigm was introduced, a state of mind or a belief system based on "Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Mankind." It got nowhere. It was hijacked by religious institutions that continued the cycle of violence and glorified war. On the one hand, therefore, we have global terrorists trying to stop the slowly closing global net of financial/trade structures and a global military machine that is about to be unleashed against them. The only thing we know about this enemy is that they are wildly fanatical Muslims. Their foot soldiers have done their work. But their leaders, their strategists, their logistical personnel, their safe-house keepers have blended into the Muslim population that spreads from the Western tip of Africa to eastern edges of Indonesia, from the northern border of Chechnya to the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. This is the world of Islam, and, like Christianity and Judaism, it has a single God, and believes its God to be the Only God. That belief makes all other Gods false Gods. It believes that its religion is the only true religion. This belief makes all other religions into false religions!
By its very nature, Islam is totally exclusive and by the basic tenets of Islam, its adherents will not rest until the whole world worships its God. That is one way to achieve world peace. But Islam has not exercised its option for world domination since the sixteen hundreds. Although the religious tenets remained, its adherents have come to terms with worshiping their God in the peace of their own homes and mosques.
In fact, it has been Christianity that, since the seventeen hundreds, has been sending its missionaries worldwide trying to convert the non-Christian populations so that Christianity might be the only world religion to bring about world domination and World Peace.
The linear thinking practiced by these monotheistic religions produced a polarity that has become our paradigm. We seem to accept without thinking that we only have two choices in almost any situation: either right or wrong; that somebody has to win and somebody must lose; that the world is composed of either good or evil. This duality has resulted in a state of mind where those who adhere to any of these monotheistic religions must conclude that 'those who are not with them are against them.' That stereotype exemplifies the fundamentalist applications of all religions.
This terrorist attack on America was just as devastating on the psyche as it was physically. There is deep significance to what happened! From the psychoanalytical point of view, the World Trade Center could represent the twin phalluses of world finance and world trade. Similarly, the enclosed area of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, could just as easily be seen as a female sexual organ, the yoni or vulva. Following the same male-female symbolism, the Pentagon could just as easily represent the Whore of Babylon from Revelations, in bed with the owners of those oversize skyscraper-penises, the global financial and trade institutions. In that sense, the terrorists castrated the twin phalluses of finance and trade in New York City and penetrated the yoni-like structure of America's military nerve center. We've been had with our own planes and with our own people inside those planes. It is no wonder that Americans are outraged!
As many commentators have noted on the incessant talk shows and reporting that has dominated the airwaves since the terrorist attacks against the United States, the liberal western world has come face to face with the fanatically conservative Islamic fundamentalism. The United States at the same time has been experiencing a very public national return to fundamentalist Christianity: it has a President who has come to power partly on his newfound strong Christian beliefs. He counted on and received the backing of the American Christian Right. On the day of mourning for the victims of this terrible terrorist attack, it was Billy Graham, who symbolically heads American fundamentalism, who was called upon to lead the service.
It is not surprising, therefore, that America's militant response to this unprecedented violence is to perpetrate more violence. Christianity, as we know it, has never embraced the guiding light of its founder. Christianity never has, and still does not intend to bring Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Mankind. It is not to say that its adherents do not fervently believe that that is exactly what Christianity stands for. I firmly believe that Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Mankind is what Christ taught. Obviously, peace and goodwill were not in the minds of those Christians who have resolved, together with America's President and probably Canada's Prime Minister, to embark on a holy war of their own against the Islamic perpetrators of this unprecedented Terror.
Is there another way? We don't know. For the past two thousand years of our history, we have known nothing but a series of conflicts. The rest periods between wars that we call 'peace' are merely pauses to regenerate the population, to store up food and to invent new weapons. This paradigm of violence will not bring about Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Mankind.
How does one bring about a paradigm shift? Individuals do it from time to time! When someone has done something long enough to see that it doesn't work, such as a bad marriage, unacceptable working conditions, unworkable political policies, or an unstoppable culture of hypocrisy within a spiritual institution, people fall back onto their own courage, take a deep breath and step out of their unworkable paradigm. The attitude change leading to the reality of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Mankind must begin with the individual. Christianity itself began like that before it was taken over by institutions.
Today, the paradigm shift can begin in a Christian context, a Pagan, Hindu or Shinto context, or even in a Jewish or Islamic context. Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Mankind is a global concept that knows no boundaries, that acknowledges no governments and transcends all religions. It depends entirely upon the intelligence that each individual on this earth possess and the conscious decision to disarm the intentions of both terrorists and governments with nothing more than goodwill, with nothing more than a shift in paradigm.DANIEL M. KOLOS is an Egyptologist and freelance writer raising goats and residing in Priceville, Ontario. He coordinates the Peace Within Concise News Network at www.bmts.com/~damilos/peace.html
"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." - George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism.
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -