From the October 2004 Idaho Observer:
Oh, what a difference a year makes
A bigger problem now
At the 11th annual Mut zur Ethik (Courage to Take a Moral Stand) conference in Feldkirch, Austria, in September, 2003, all political discussions could have ended with a stream of profanity and the "Bush administration." Last year the world was still in shock over the Bush administration’s declaration that it reserved the right to "preemtively strike" any nation it determined to be a threat to U.S. interests or the interests of its allies.
A year ago, the world was angered by the arrogance of a nation that displayed utter contempt for international law and appeared as if it was preparing to use its military might to protect the interests of multinational corporations while they steal the valuable resources of weaker states.
This year the general feeling among the conference’s 50 or so speakers and 400+ attendees was that the world has bigger problems than the U.S., which is so economically and militarily over-extended it simply cannot sustain itself much longer. When the U.S. falls, which could happen any day now, the world will experience a large degree of economic, political and military instability. China and its allies in the Orient are expected to grab what power it can in the vacuum left by the fallen U.S.
Also, at this time, Russia, France and Germany are beginning to form an alliance to protect their mutual interests in Europe.
Rising and falling
Europeans have witnessed the rising and falling of dynasties, empires, monarchies and civilian governments for millennia. Americans, on the other hand, have only seen one rise and no falls. Where Europeans have vast experience allowing them to see the signs of a nation about to fall, Americans suffer from a peculiar form of blindness in this area.
It is my belief that our nation is about to fall and that there is nothing that can be done to stop it. However, governments have always come and gone. The governed, the common people, have always remained. We are the constant and it is, therefore, within our authority to rebuild from the ashes of our failed society a way of life suitable for raising children to perpetuate honor, justice and peaceful coexistence with others.
Us and them
There really have only been two groups of people on the planet all this time: "us" and "them." Surely, we can divide ourselves into different races, ethnicities, theologies and nationalities, but common peoples of the world (us) have always been governed by members of the wealthiest and most powerful families in a region (them).
We have forever been subjected to accepting relationships among one another that are more closely related to the political needs of our governors than a direct threat we pose to one another. Historically, most of the events that determine whether we are to be friends or enemies was the result of high-level, politically-motivated conspiracies—and not due to common people damaging each other.
And what do we get for following our leaders into armed conflict with one another? We get guns and bombs and chemicals; we get destroyed cities, destroyed private property and destroyed lives; we get poverty, hunger, pestilence, disease and misery; we get vice, corruption, violence and oppression.
The legacy of armed conflict is worse now than it has ever been in the history of humankind. People who have survived the little wars all over the world in the last 15 years have not seen the return of normalcy. Just because the newspapers stopped reporting wars in Africa, former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, South America and Central America does not mean the institutions of civil government have returned. The truth is that these wars are created by "them" to destabilize nations so the resources to be found there can be stolen. Populations of "us" all over the world are intentionally kept in a perpetual state of chaos. At the present rate, it won’t be long before all the world’s common people will be living in a state of chronic disarray.
Think about that when you perceive the plan for America’s imminent future. I doubt the sadistic bastards who control the puppets on Capitol Hill and in the White House intend to spare Americans the misery they so sadistically inflict on everyone else. It would be catering to our inexperienced rise-and-fall blindness for Americans to believe they will be granted a fate different from every other common population.
Why have things become so rotten? I think they always have been but technology, our exponentially increased numbers and our insatiably consumption-oriented cultures have made us greater and better-reported targets. It feels like the same personality has been behind the rise and fall of societies since Sumeria.
Is it human to be greedy, jealous, covetous, fearful and spiteful? Most of the world’s spiritual teachings acknowledge these tendencies and implore us to overcome them. However, to wage an ever-widening campaign to exploit, enslave, and mass murder common people and poison their land is beyond the scope of simple human frailties. Therefore, I do not think our adversaries are human in the sense that humans have a conscience.
A broadened world-view
Americans, I included, have a view of the world limited to our own American experience and programming. The U.S. appears in the middle of the world map and we believe everything revolves around us. We are so obsessed with ourselves that the rest of the world is either viewed as really neat vacation destinations or places on TV where war or natural disasters are happening.
This year at the conference I took endless notes as people from all over the world told their stories. As a result of listening to this magnificent array of individuals, thoughts, ideas and experiences, asking questions and discerning the truth behind what was being told, my understanding of the world has changed dramatically. And for the better.
The following pages contain, in chronological order, the essence of what the speakers had to say. Also published is one of the most important papers presented at the conference.
The impression this year’s conference left upon me is powerful. I consider this opportunity to report back to you what I learned at the Mut zur Ethik (moot sir eetik) conference this year an honor.
Strengthening human beings
I cannot stress enough how strong my impression is that we are quickly coming to the end of an age—the age of oil. There will be a transition period as things sort themselves out and we give birth to a new age. It is more appropriate to be flattered that we are living at this time rather than frightened of what will happen next as we are thrust forward into the unknown.
We have transcended ages before—the Dark Ages, Medieval times, the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. Throughout them all, governments have risen, become irreparably corrupt and are inevitably toppled—only to be replaced with other governments that eventually topple due to corruption.
In the few words of a good friend, "People are governed because they can be." People will be forever subjected to the whims of corruptable governors until the day they are strong enough to govern themselves.
Therein lies the challenge of our future:
To apply all that we have learned about people, governments, education, technology, the universe and spirituality in the rebuilding of a society that allows people to live peaceably amongst each other.
Human default mode
The greatest impediment to peaceful and cooperative coexistence between peoples is how, in the absence of certain socio/political factors, people default to violence.
In the absence of justice, we have violence
In the absence of knowledge, we have violence
In the absence of virtue, we have violence
In the absence of spiritual beliefs, we have violence
In the absence of codes of conduct, we have violence
In the absence of literacy, we have violence
In the absence of prosperity, we have violence
In the absence of morality, we have violence
In the absence of humility, we have violence
In the absence of compassion, we have violence
In the absence of nutritious food, we have violence
In the absence of pure water, we have violence
In the absence of clean air, we have violence
In the absence of bountiful land, we have violence
Think about that. When people and societies operate without restraint or their basic needs are not being met, their tendency is to become violent. If you look around us today, we can see how governments support and enforce policies and programs that trigger people’s default tendency toward violence. Why? Violence creates division and peoples divided are more easily conquered, oppressed and exploited. If people could be strengthened so that, in the absence of outside influences they defaulted to compassion and; in the absence of adequate food, water and shelter they defaulted toward prayer and humility, governments, as we have always known them, would cease to exist and people would much more likely desire to simply have a decent place to raise their children.
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