Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Week After 9/11

(written September 19, 2001)

Peace Plan
The American people, harboring many of the most powerful economic and political leaders of the world, must make many choices in the coming days, weeks, months and years. We must choose our role in the international community. For too long, many believe, we have been “policeman to the world” and our government has interpreted “policing” to justify countless atrocities and killings in countries on every continent. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to take on another calling, as “social workers for the world.” The largest tragedies create the biggest opportunities for bravery and change.

We have an opportunity to choose, mobilize, fund and implement peaceful solutions to international conflicts raging all around the globe. We have the emotional, spiritual and financial resources to absorb the pain of the World Trade Center bombing, recognize that we have been backed into a corner, and also recognize that for once in history, we cannot come out shooting. We must emerge changed, and respond with compassion, generosity, kindness, a high level of organization and skill, and a sincere intent to rectify the wrongs we have committed as much as we can. Our overriding goal must be to stabilize communities all over the world, so that in a generation, we will be able to join the world community as neither a policeman nor a social worker, but simply as a member, with many contributions to make and the incalculable benefits of peace to enjoy.

We in America are not all Christians, but an overwhelming percentage of us identify as Christians and many more identify as spiritual in other formal and informal ways. President Bush, during his campaign, identified Jesus Christ as his role model for leadership. We must ask him and ask ourselves: What would Jesus do? We must ask this question not to spread Christianity around the world by force, but in recognition of the fact that Jesus lived an exemplary life and taught the values of reciprocity and compassion which are the basic tenet of every major spiritual system history has ever known.

All of the spiritual leaders throughout the ages have urged the same basic actions:
Feed the hungry.
Clothe the naked.
House the homeless.
Care for the sick, wounded, children and the infirm.
Protect the earth.
Love one another.

Those are the actions we propose in this document. Those are the efforts which should receive every kind of imaginable support from those most able to provide support: the people of North America and Western Europe, who have for too long extracted the world’s resources and labor for their own benefit, by the exploitation of all other peoples.

The American people have the strength to choose this course, and even if our leaders first choose a military “solution,” we will retain the strength to choose to change their minds and change their actions. The American people, acting with conscience and faith, can choose to stop a war, even if one begins. We must make that choice: the sooner the better.

We know violence does not end violence. It only delays retaliation and forces violence to take on new and ever more deadly shapes.

We have the strength, the emotional and financial resources, the skilled people, the production capacity. Most of all, we have the organizational ability. We have voting precincts in every neighborhood that can be mobilized to choose the Peace Plan and put it into action with donations, volunteer registries, training sessions and transportation.

We have the political will also, even though we are angry and hurt. We see clearly that the cycle must be stopped, by us, who have so much that we can suffer, survive and still share. We understand that the solution means a redistribution of wealth. The American people also understand that the people who may fear losses from the redistribution of wealth -- the very wealthy -- stand to gain so much more: international stability and cooperation. They have children too. They have a stake in the future of human civilization on this planet.
We strongly believe that the overall goal of the Peace Plan is regional self-determination, not American and European control of the world. All relief work should be carried out with four basic principles in mind: teaching, learning modeling and supporting: tolerance, non-violent conflict resolution, self-determination and wise resource use.

The following outlines the first five, giant, difficult but necessary and feasible steps toward peace:

I. Consult with non-governmental peace organizations to identify and redirect or abandon damaging American policies, institutions and practices domestically and around the world. These include but are not limited to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, stock exchanges, nuclear proliferation and the proposed missile defense program, the death penalty, punitive immigration laws, the Mexico City gag rule, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the US State Department and Department of Defense, interference in people’s movements and democratic transformations, environmental degradation.

Establish livable minimum wages in the US while establishing maximum wages at no more than three times minimum wage, and urge other nations to follow that example.

Redirect the excess assets held by the wealthiest people (anything above what they might have earned during their working years if paid three times the minimum wage) to relief efforts on behalf of all those around the world whose labor and sacrifice has enabled the wealthy to collect those assets.

Erase all personal and international debts. Discontinue all economic sanctions. Protect nuclear arms sites and nuclear power plants all over the world from seizure and deployment.

II. Identify resources including:
Financial: All money currently slated here and abroad for military “solutions” and the money held by the wealthy here and abroad due to the exploitation of the poor.
Material: All available food, clothing and building materials in the US, and the transportation system (trucks, trains and airplanes).
People: Trained and experienced translators, peace activists, doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, social workers, psychologists, teachers, engineers and contractors, farmers, ecologists, economists, transportation experts, and researchers in all of those fields whose work relates to disaster relief, trauma, logistics, economic, political and environmental sustainability.

III. Appoint a coordinating agency for each type of worker, for example, the American Medical Association or a similar European group, for the medical workers. Create an international directing committee, perhaps through the United Nations, composed of the leaders of each working group to plan and coordinate gathering the resources from those who have them, primarily the people of North America and Western Europe, shipping the goods and people to the areas that need them, and distributing the services and support to the people of the rest of the world.

IV. Identify needs in each area of the world, in consultation with representatives from each region. In collaboration, with UN dispute resolution groups assisting, prioritize regions and needs within the region and begin to deploy people and material to the highest need areas. Do not stop mobilizing and delivering goods and services until all regions’ needs have been met. Primary needs will include: Nutrition, Health Care and Trauma Counseling, Community Building and Leadership Development, Sanitation, Housing, Transportation, Agricultural Development and Environmental Protection, Education, Labor Law Development and Micro-Business Development.

Remember that the overall goal is regional self-determination, not American and European control of the world. All relief work should include learning, teaching, practicing and supporting four basic principles: tolerance, non-violent conflict resolution, individual and community self-determination, and wise resource management. Therefore, throughout the relief effort, thought and planning should be directed toward eventual exit strategies, ways to empower individuals, communities and regions to use their own resources wisely and get along with each other and their neighbors.

V. Convene international bodies, like the various departments of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Criminal Court and others, with representatives from every community, to discuss, propose, vote, implement and monitor policies on tolerance, non-violent conflict resolution, individual and community self-determination and wise resource management. Enforce the conclusions of these international consensus groups not with bombs, starvation and disease through economic sanctions, or other violent means, but with a global version of the parent and child’s time-out, perhaps the best idea ever to take hold in American society.

The time-out is based on the truth that humans are social animals. We want to be a part of our families, communities and world. We want to be trusted and taught to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. So when a person or a country acts out in anger, frustration, fear, despair or any of the other awful emotions which being human inescapably entails, we need to give them more support, not less, and time and space to cool off. We need to be near them, suffer with them, encourage them to try again to join the world community peacefully.

Above all else, we need to model self-control, kindness, gentleness and courage. We need to choose the Peace Plan, naive though it may seem. We cannot justify continuing the age-old cycle of war, with its long recorded history of absolute failure.


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