THIS WORLD of OURS
By Bob Harwood
As I transition this spring from writing this column every month to simply submitting periodic articles I wish to thank readers who for many years have provided vital feedback to my process. If you are seasonal residents here—as we have been for twenty years—
Climate Change is the issue of our time as chaotic winters succeed chaotic summers everywhere. The window of opportunity is rapidly closing to avert the destruction of our very habitat, let alone build a better world. Post Copenhagen decisive action, starting in North America, could yet usher in a new age, new economies, new hope. May devastating winter storms in Washington DC itself finally nudge climate change deniers on Capitol Hill!
Countering Fundamentalism To Find Common Ground. Much of today’s strife stems from clashes between Literalist Fundamentalists incapable of dialogue. Be they of whatever faith engagement starts between non-literal centrists or moderates. We must allow others to find their own comfort zone between history and myth, literalism and metaphor as we adapt to ancient understandings. For many decades I have participated in just such dialoguewith other denominations, other faiths, and with those who have turned their backs on all ‘faiths’ as defying reason. I caution my Secularist friends lest they become the new Fundamentalists incapable of thinking of these things in other than literal terms! Countless scientists comfortably reconcile their faith and science. To this end the world’s largest scientific body, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, has sponsored numerous Science and the Spiritual Quest forums on every continent. As failure to resolve the decades long Israeli Palestinian conflict has been a major factor behindterrorism, 9/11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, strife in Africa and nuclear saber rattling in Iran I will devote an upcoming separate column to this sensitive and complex issue.
Social and Economic Fundamentalism. Analogous fundamentalist divides also thrive in social and economic spheres. What could be more obscene than side by side accounts of the havoc wrought in Haiti and Wall Street resisting a tax on billions in executive bonuses to bailed out firms who placed the global economy at risk—or Swiss banks’ fears of being forced to disclose some two trillion dollars in tax evasion accounts? Per capita health care costs in America are twice those of other first world countries and a huge factor in rising deficits yet tens of millions go uninsured. Hunger ravages much of the world while we wrestle with obesity. Libertarians trumpeting personal interests over those of society as a whole are the ultimate social and economic fundamentalists. America’s political system is dominated by powerful lobbyists, unfettered campaign financing and parochial politics where Congressional votes are sold for constituency level bribes.
Obsolescence of Nationalism and Militarism. The military dimension of national policy has become not just irrelevant but counterproductive. World War II progressed from a face off between Maginot and Siegfried Lines to the atomic horrors of Hiroshima. Sheer fire power and napalm did not prevail in Viet Nam. In Iraq and Afghanistan conventional military might is rendered helpless by individual suicide bombers while euphemistically phrased collateral damage inflicted on civilians alienates the very hearts and minds we seek to win. After two devastating wars in a generation Europe’s sovereign nations embraced a federal vision to create a more peaceful, prosperous continent for all its people. Our challenge is to progressively craft a like vision for our world as a whole.
A common thread. I see a set of values linking these seemingly diverse issues. Marshall McLuhan’s “Global Village” was one of the most insightful phrases of the 20th century. In a now irretrievably interdependent world we must embrace a new ethos in which (a) long term rather than short term interests are served, (b) global rather than parochial perspectives prevail, (c) society as a whole is not subordinated to libertarian selfishness, (d) the futility of war to resolve issues is recognized. (e) and gender equity. I firmly believe that when women are equally represented in the seats of power at all levels our world will indeed be a better place.
For full disclosure of my vested interest in allof these issues and more see Seeking COMMON GROUND in a Troubled World by Bob Harwood. available at www.1stbookstore.com and by accessing my This World of Ours columns on line.