Friday, March 18, 2022

Our birthright as citizens of the world is not for sale!

U.S President Biden says we are at a historic inflexion point, in which the clash of autocracies against democracies is in full flight. There is evidence that China and Russia, along with other autocracies, will link in some way(s) to either fail to impede, or to actually support this slaughter in Ukraine. As I write this, according to reports, Biden and Xi Jinping are engaged in a phone conversation that has the potential to be a fork in the road, not only for the immediate war, but for the longer term of the world’s way of operating.

The American networks are throwing around words like “carrots” and “sticks” with which Biden can possibly convince the Chinese leader to refuse to send military aid to putin in Ukraine, or also to refuse to bail putin out on the mountain of sanctions that have been imposed on him and his oligarchy. In the same broadcasts, Russian ‘demands’ are reported to include a commitment from Ukraine that it will never entertain or seek membership in NATO, and that the eastern provinces of Ukraine become, in effect, a formal part of Russia.

Apparently putin’s demands are detailed as the minimum benchmark the Ukrainians have to meet in order for the shelling and the bombing and the killing of innocents to stop. At the same time, Ukrainian President Zelensky has told the world, repeatedly, in masterful rhetoric delivered virtually to parliaments in Germany, Great Britain, Canada and the United States, that Ukraine will never give up, never surrender, and never submit to a Russian system of tyranny.

Even former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger prepared, executed and delivered a video message, based  on his Austrian heritage and his angry father who was wounded fighting for the Nazis in Leningrad, and who angrily told Arnold to remove a poster of his Russian weight-lifting hero, Vaslov, whom he met personally, following a World Weightlifting Championship in Vienna as a boy of 14.Having acted in the first foreign film produced in Red Square in Moscow, the former governor has apparently quite a following in Russia. He spoke directly to the people of Russia, 11 million of whom have Ukrainian family connections, and to putin himself, to stop the illegal war for which he is totally responsible. Whether such a message will have any impact or not, its authenticity and timeliness and cogency are indisputable.

We have to end this carnage. And we have to make that happen today if possible.

Political rhetoric now ramps up in places like Germany and Canada, for a sizeable increase in military spending, as a response to this latest war, about which Andrew Coyne, appearing on CBC’s At Issue, says that putin has crossed the Rubicon, and that we  will never go back to a world prior to February 24, the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Again, like Biden, Coyne is uttering a most-likely and inevitable truth. However, it is underneath how we are operating that demands critical exposure, examination and amendment, if not transformation.

“Stick” and “carrots”… negotiating demands…transactionalism…zero sum games…classical conditioning…critical parenting….colonization….empire building…domination….military might…gross national product…Gross National Income…they all serve as  trinkets in a geopolitical board game of international self-sabotage. We move them around, as if we actually believed we are doing important things, accomplishing significant, ethical and moral and sustainable goals. We write volumes describing who they have been ‘deployed’ for centuries, in battles, dominions, empires and court rooms, as if to say, like the slogan on a boy-toy retail outlet in Colorado, “he with the most toys wins!” How can I get you to do my bidding, through the only process considered worthwhile…by bribing and manipulating and persuading and even seducing you to my way of thinking.

If this war is not enough to convince major countries like India and China, Iran and North Korea that the slaughter of innocent women and children and elderly by an unprovoked invader drunk on lies and hate, then all the rantings about sticks and carrots amount to an obituary for the human race. If the destruction of both individuals and the collective nation of Ukrainian people by a brutal, cold-blooded murderer armed with nuclear and chemical weapons and unbridled by any form of previously signed contract respecting any other nation, person, territory or even ethnicity is not enough of a call to the human race, to all people, in all offices in all nations and territories everywhere on all continents, regardless of ideology, history, ethnicity or religion, to join the opposition to the war, then what hope is there for the long-term survival of humanity.

Of course, there are already those whose eyes are gliding over this space who are repulsed by what they consider the hyperbole of that previous utterance. And yet, here me out!

If a family we to operate exclusively on the concept of classical conditioning, (at its core that is the Achilles heel of Christianity), and were to offer a ‘gold star’ for all the accomplishments we aspire to witness and experience, then only children and parents would emerge into adulthood. If bosses controlled their workers merely by carrots and sticks, demotions, suspensions and pay-benefit-and-title-hikes, then the very real glue that holds all organizations together and keeps them from flying apart, is a melange of shared values, including especially a truthful assessment of the most complex circumstances. We are much more then our “job titles” just as we are much more than our illnesses. We are much more than engines generating profits for those empowered to make illegitimate assessments of how and why we are performing in the manner we do. We are much more even than the criminals and misfits languishing in prison cells around the world, of course for heinous acts we do not know how to countenance, or to prevent or to punish, as our veiled and vain promise of deterrence.

Like putin, Zelensky and his family have suffered at the hands of the Third Reich. Like Zelensky, putin is charged with the burden of carrying his personal and his nation’s ‘biographical’ history into each and every meeting and into each and every decision. Both are responsible for the deaths and woundings of innocent victims and soldiers and fighters.

Regardless of our faith exposure and inculcation, regardless of our cultural and linguistic heritage, regardless of what level of academic degree we have attained, or not, regardless of what level of income and social status we may have attained, or not, there is a fundamental, basic and inescapable shared reality: we all want to  be respected; we all want to be honoured and we all desperately want to be known. And to be known, is a lot more than to be known for the yacht, or the dacha, or the ‘mcmansion’, or the BMW, or the title, the club memberships, or the ‘friends’ we keep. And to be known, is to have a hearth and a home and a family and a circle…and while we all know these obvious and elementary facts, they have enhanced relevance in a world beset by pandemic and more to come, and by rising carbon emissions and more to come, and by intransigence of corporations like the Koch brothers who persist in both operating in and profiting from Russian business, in the middle of this war, and by intellectual arguments of “neutrality” or  worse, “support for the invasion”.

If mass slaughter by an unprovoked dictator armed with both nuclear and chemical weapons (and having already deployed them in Syria in support of another tyrant) is not a red, giagantic, and wind-resistant, as well as pollution-resistant flag of warning for all world leaders, then what will it take for the world to come to its knees, and to recognize, humbly, honestly, epistemologically comprehensively, and vulnerably that national boundaries have to give way to more life-giving and assuring aspirations, hopes and truths.

We have neither the time nor the resources, neither the spiritual aristocracy nor the criminal defamity, neither the intellectual competence nor the ethical capacity, neither the will nor the courage to withstand what existential threats loom on our shared horizon. We no longer can luxuriate in our private insulations, isolation islands, whether they are restricted to a street, a neighbourhood, a town or village, a province or a state, a nation or a continent. We are no longer just Canadians, or Americans or Ukrainians, or Russians, or Poles or Brits, or Ugandans, or Nigerians. And while each of us continues to be proud of that first ‘homeland’ identity we all have, given the land of our birth, we have to recognize and respect that we have a wider and a deeper and longer-term benefit and our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, step-brothers and step-sisters, foster-mothers and foster-fathers around the world who, too, share the same needs and aspirations.

This is not political rhetoric seeking endorsements from some corporate donor. Nor is it theological theory or praxis seeking a congregation of worshippers. Nor is it a political ideology seeking a political party, or an economic system or theory, seeking undergraduate curricula for representation. Nor is it a plea to the plethora of international service clubs seeking power and authority among your hierarchies.

This is a ‘cry in the wilderness’ from the northern hemisphere, where Spring is just beginning to show her face, and where the cold snows of this burdensome winter are melting, thankfully for the hundreds of thousands of those who spend it under bridges and overpasses to freeways, or huddled in the door-fronts of small businesses. Our membership in the human race, and our each having been blessed/perhaps some might think cursed, with a sentience and a perception and a consciousness and a will and a capacity to discern right from wrong…regardless of the complexity if fully disclosed…is our birthright.

And our birthright cannot and must not be sacrificed to some tinpot dictator, nor some sycophantic cheer-leaders of those tinpot tyrants, nor those corporate behemoths who have twisted the world economy to their perverse greed and narcissism. Nor can our birthright be sold or bought, regardless of the glitz and glitter of whatever bribe. And this is true and reliable regardless of which street we live on, in which country, or in which period of history.

That birthright is a badge of courage and solidarity, not only with our native Canadians (in my case) nor with North Americans, nor with Europeans, nor with western culture members. It is a badge of courage, competence and conviction that each of us is both needed and absolutely necessary to train, and to find, and then to use our voice, with others, especially when the crisis (crises) are so glaringly present and so lethal in their dimension.

We have a duty as human beings, not only to bring this war to an end, but afterward, to speak out eloquently and poetically and urgently and cogently for arms reductions, for military hard power to give way to geopolitical vulnerability, honestly and the abandonment of classical conditioning by all parties.

Even children and parents, clergy and parishioners, bosses and workers, in all countries would see more sunlight and more spring breezes in the lives of everyone around them, if we could catch a glimpse of such a future.

It may, at first, read like another innocent naïve, romantic and idealistic vision of a child-like simplicity, only relevant for the theatre stage and not for the world leaders. Children are already shining the light into the darkness around the tunnel-vision of adults on environmental protection.

Their vision can and must extend to all of our interactions, encounters, negotiations and treaties.

Without the deep and lasting trust among us all, no effective leadership is feasible.

“I want you, President Biden to be  leader of the world; to be leader of the world means to be leader of PEACE.”

Thank you Volodymr Zelensky! 


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