From the June 2003 Idaho Observer:
Free Press for Peace
Mut zur Ethik asks IO editor to speak at 11th annual pan-European conference
SPIRIT LAKE -- Idaho Observer editor Don Harkins has accepted an invitation to speak at the 11th annual Mut zur Ethik Conference in Feldkirch, Austria, the first week of September, 2003. Mut zur Ethik, translated from German, means Courage to Take a Moral Stance.
My intention was to figure out a way to attend the conference because, after talking to Eva-Maria Follmer at my kitchen table, I saw her vision, and wanted to experience it first hand and bring it home.
Follmer, an editor for Zeit Fragen (Current Concerns) and Mut zur Ethik founder, was attending a conference in New York and traveled to Idaho last March. Over a long weekend she explained how Europeans have common problems and, contrary to monarchial excuses for centuries of bloodshed, they aren't each other.
Though Americans have not been killing each other for millennia along ethnic and religious lines, they have been divided along political and philosophical lines. The result is the same, Americans have a common enemy -- and it isn't us. I was motivated to find out how Mut zur Ethik was able to bring eastern Europe and western Europe, Frenchmen and Germans, English and Irish, Protestants, Catholics and Athiests together for discussions about, say, the destruction of families, Harkins explained. He completed his thought by stating, If historically divided peoples in Europe will come together and discuss solutions with respect for each others differences, then conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and property rights advocates, southerners and northerners, easterners and westerners, whites, blacks, reds, browns and yellows can come together somewhere in the States and do the same thing.
The invitation to speak at the conference came as quite a surprise. In a letter dated May 19, Mut zur Ethik asked if Harkins would speak at the main conference on the issue, 'Free Press for Peace.'
It is difficult for me to imagine receiving an assignment that requires me to intelligently discuss a topic any closer to the very purpose of my journalistic path, Harkins stated.
Harkins believes that common people are not born with a desire to kill those that look or believe differently than they do. He believes that such prejudices are instilled into them by those who profit from the racial, ethnic, religious, political and/or philosophical divisions they create. He listed power elites, governments, churches and corporations as those who have always profited immensely from the misery of ordinary people.
The only way to tell the people of the world the good news -- that there are 6,000,000,000 of 'us' who are willing to tolerate and trade peacefully amongst each other and only a few of 'them' who want us all to keep killing each other -- is by developing the international free press. We need to find the minds of common people with our publications and change their hearts with logic, science and compassion. Unless we as nations display mutual respect for each individual, as peace and prosperity demands, lives will continue to be destroyed by war, death, disease and famine.
What will happen in Europe when centuries of senseless hatreds are erased and ordinary French, British, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Czechs and Russians are ordering their leaders to promote fair trade? Harkins asked.
As a follow-up, Harkins asked, What will happen in America when we stop pointing fingers of blame at one another, decide to respect each other instead, stop acting like the stereotypes we have been conditioned to represent, order our leaders to stop meddling in everyone's affairs and demand an end to our corporate-led government's culture of killing?
Free press for peace. Free press for justice. Free press for decency. Free press for honor. Free press for respect. Free press for education. Free press for truth. Free press -- for freedom.
Harkins will be submitting a written version of the talk he intends to give. For some reason, I believe this will be the most important talk of my life, Harkins concluded.