Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terror in Paris on Friday the 13th

News reports sound surprised by the mass murder in Paris.  American’s were surprised on 9-11.   It continues to surprise me that they are surprised.  This is what a global war on terrorism looks like.  And it’s only going to get worse unless we stop waging war, which is in itself a form of terrorism.  A war where the world is a battle field with no front lines, no borders, and no rules.
War by definition is lawlessness.  And every war spawns terror for anyone caught in the middle.  Even for the soldiers who volunteer or were drafted, war is hell and thoroughly terrifying.
Being on the receiving end of a suicide bomber and stealth bomber there is no difference except cost.   They both kill innocent people.   There is no justice in that.   A Pope once offered the solution in four words  “no justice, no peace”.  Last month on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March you heard a 3 word prediction, “justice or else!”  In June the report from the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance stated the obvious in just two words. “ Just Peace”.  The summary of their detailed report makes the self-evident case that without justice (the protection of human rights) there will be no security! 
On December 10th  the world should be celebrating the 67th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It’s a list of 51 specific inalienable human rights in 30 “Articles”.
There is no way to prove this assertion, but I believe it’s true.  If in creating the United Nations 70 years ago, the victors of World War II would have made this an enforceable global ‘bill of rights’, superior to the rights of nation states (the national sovereign system of unenforceable international law we have today), there would be no terrorism.  No genocide.  Far fewer deaths from poverty, hunger, disease (which still kill more people than war and genocide combined).  The world we live in today wouldn’t be perfect. But we wouldn’t now be increasingly forced to choose between our freedoms and our security.  
Those who created the UDHR after the terrors of World War II (genocide, atomic bombs and millions of death by war) essentially acknowledged our global interdependence.   But today we cling to the illusion that we are independent.  A global state of anarchy that allows nation states to do as they please, especially if they have nuclear weapons, regardless of the consequences on other people in other nations or in other religions.
Our great but troubled nation is based on this illusionary concept of ‘independence’.  In reality it is just a word that exists only on paper in this increasingly interdependent and troubled world.   Even worse, it is a mental illusion that goes beyond our national and state governments.  It is embedded in each government agency.    After 9-ll our nation attempted to reconcile the consequences of the separation between the CIA and the FBI in terms of cooperation in identifying in advance, those who might be plotting harm against us.  Our government then consolidated 18 formerly independent agencies into one.  The Department of Homeland Security.  But, then kept it separate from DOD, which remains separate from EPA , and every other federal  agency responsible for various aspects of our national security.  
It gets worse.  Our minds are addicted to the illusion of separateness.   We have a mind/body/spirit separation then spend time and effort to seeking and practicing various techniques to resolve this separateness.   We also separate ourselves from one another by skin color, religion, nationality, sexual preferences, culture, political parties, and tax loop holes.  And we wonder why things aren’t working?.  We have a growing obesity epidemic, distrust of police and politicians, and a ‘dysfunctional government’ that is now our nation’s second greatest national security threat.  You read that correctly.  Our nation’s top national security experts, put our government’s “dysfunction”, in second place behind, Russia, China, North Korea and Climate Change.   They saw jihadists as a greater threat.
Soon after I first started working on world hunger issues in the late 1970s.  I read President Carter’s “Presidential Commission on World Hunger”.  In the summary of that report it concluded ‘if we don’t end hunger soon we will increasingly see disease, war, revolution, refugees…’
Scientists now believe AIDS originated in the Congo in the 1930s and 40s when  the eating of bush meat spread the virus to the human population where there was no immunity.  Then wars and prostitution pushed the virus up the Kinshasa highway where it was seen as a ‘hunger’ related problem.  According to genetic tracing the virus first appeared in the US in the mid 70s when it was brought in unknowingly by a Haitian airline steward.
A few years later HIV/AIDS started killing gay men in SF where I was living with my wife.  We had our first child in San Francisco General Hospital…and a few months later received a letter requesting we  come in for an blood test.  Would it be twisting a word too much to say we were ‘terrorized’?  Long before the US attacks on 9-11 I had been studying terrorism.  I was shocked by the lack of agreement on a definition.  There were over 200, many contradicting each another.  But after witnessing my first child coming into this world I understood for the first time what true joy was, and true terror.  I would have done ANYTHING to keep her safe and healthy.  And, I assure you. There is no greater terror in the world than experience of a parent thinking about the loss of their own child.  Yet today, like every day, approximately 17,000 children under the age of 5 die from easily preventable malnutrition and infections.  And it’s not news!   
I believe it’s not reported because of our illusion of separateness.  This blinds us to the actual connections between the suffering of those parents and a growing list of lethal and expensive consequences that show up in our own lives.   From the export of US jobs to lower wage nations, to the import of infectious diseases by immigrants or Americans on vacations or business trips abroad.  From the terrorism we see on TV to the excessive birth rates that fuel population growth.  
I believe the global enforcement of the UDHR back then would have profoundly reduced most of these problems and threats today. And those that were not preventable, we would be that much better able to react to or recover from today.
And that is why I believe, December 10th is the most important day of the year.  Unfortunately, it will continue to be ‘just a day’ like any other.  Until ‘we the people’ of the world demand that our inalienable rights be put superior to the currently uncontested rights of nation states (and corporations) to do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want.
For those unpersuaded by this logic.  Consider this.  The exponential growth of technology is putting unprecedented power in the hands of almost anyone with a small bank account or a grudge.   All of it is duel use technology.  Capable of doing amazing good, or catastrophic harm.  Our linear minds can’t quite grasp the significance of this reality.  And, worse yet, our ‘independent’ governments are seem increasingly incapable of changing in response.    If we allow war to continue as a solution to resolving issues instead of ‘justice’ determined by democratically elected law making body and a global supreme court, our species may not recover.   Albert Einstein who supported this change in human behavior was once asked what World War III would be fought with.  He said he didn’t know.  But he was quite certain, “World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones.”
No justice.  No security.  No civilization.  No humans.


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