Thursday, July 3, 2008


Developing a new Grass-roots Public Movement

The idea of world peace is not new. Utopian and liberal thinkers have been pondering such issues for a long time, but it is only today that we have the means to achieve them. The globalization phenomenon, rapid changes in the international communications technology, and the drastic expansion of the Internet has provided us a window of opportunity, as never before.

We can, and even do, network for global causes. The primary example is the global environmentalist movement of our own age which happens to be a remarkable movement in its own right. But the global peace movement has not yet caught up to its potential. Given the necessary scope of global citizen action, how can it achieve peace? This brings us to the perplexing question of what is fundamentally required to bring it about.

There are many reasons for the turmoil in our age, with feelings of alienation the foremost passion fueling this violence. A fundamental shift in the world at large would be needed to achieve world peace. We must change ourselves in drastic ways for that to happen. We must all recognize that the greatest sentiment fueling the extremist phenomenon is alienation with modernity, crass materialism.

A powerful sense of injustice, which includes social injustice also, is fueling resentment against Western culture and civilization, especially in the Muslim world and other parts of the developing world. The Muslim world is in a crisis of unimaginable proportions. Corruption, injustice, misrule, and lack of visionary leadership are wreaking havoc on these societies, and things are not that much better in other Asian, African, and Latin American societies. Capitalism and western hegemony have their downsides, so to speak.

We cannot have world peace without justice for the deprived, the hapless, and the poorest of the poor and the wronged. Here we are talking of politics and not just varieties shades of economic deprivation. In the Islamic world present injustices are breeding resentment, alienation, frustration and radicalism. In some societies, like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia, and Bangladesh all of the above are now present. However, the glaring issue for Muslims is political. Their political perceptions are what primarily fuel radicalism in a way that history has never witnessed before.

The globalization phenomenon is making it easier for radicalism to spread all over the world. Muslims, especially the romanticizing youth, are enraged as never before. They resent Western cowardice, duplicity, wrongful deployment of military force and the patronage of callous and corrupt governments ruling over them. The troubles are conveniently exported also as Muslims get politicized on the issues of Muslim helplessness, a lack of institutional mechanisms to voice their protests, and the culpability of their own leadership to Western powers. Muslim political issues have galvanized a strong minority to action and violent protest.

For example, injustices meted to Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir, southern Thailand, China, Iraq and erstwhile USSR are the primary causes of Islamic radicalism.

It is a common perception that poverty breeds radicalism. It does not. Injustice does. Therefore, justice is the key to peace.

Perceptions shape reality in complex ways. For example, the West (read United States and NATO) have been spreading vast amounts of treasure, military force, and police action in the Muslim world to stop militancy, yet it is growing at an alarming rate. The Global War on Terror has an undue emphasis on the use of force to the detriment of other available nonviolent options.

There is not much push for solving intractable problems likely to cause anti-Western resentment in Muslim masses. There is an intellectual failure here. The Western powers are missing the forest for the trees. This myopic vision cannot work.

The simple fact is that without tolerance there can be no peace. Peace must first start inside each of us in order for us to create peace in the world. We see a total lack of tolerance towards other belief patterns, ideas and ways of life. It must be considered fundamental that without mutual tolerance there can be no peace.

We also have to network globally to achieve world peace one region at a time, meaning that one must primarily focus on his own region. Action begins most easily here, obviously.
For example, in the greater
Middle East peace is indeed problematic.

The question is why. We have been convinced that peace in the Middle East is beyond the governments in power in both the West and the Middle East itself. A very strong public pressure is needed to nudge the world’s political leadership to quick action. Unfortunately, the global peace movement is now largely dormant. Therefore, an attempt has to be made to do something about it.
The people must take it upon themselves to move in a networked fashion, in which thousands of local peace groups are meshed into a global alliance. As a loose network of shared ideas, this does not need a structure, and information is enough. The key is public involvement. Ordinary citizens must resolve to take the matter into their own hands.

First, they have to realize the gravity of the situation. Enough is enough. We need to knock some sense into the minds of the world’s leaders and especially the leadership of the Western world. The public must galvanize and rise to force the elected leadership to change course from needless military action to launch a strong global peace agenda. How, and where, do we begin?
The key is education. There is simply no alternative. The mindset of real politics needs to be changed. Certainly, this is no easy task. But where there is a will there is a way. Ordinary citizens need to rise up and grasp the opportunities that are available today. The cry for action beckons to all of us.

A worldwide education is needed to instill new values based on toleration of others, compassion for others, and foremost we must all begin to believe in humanity. The bane of the dominant modern Western civilization is a new level of selfishness, callousness, indifference and seclusion never seen before. Tragically, this is producing self-denial and ostrich-thinking.

Western civilization cannot be stable, peaceful, and prosperous when its neighbors are living in hell. That cannot, and will not, happen. It is time we all realized the gravity of the situation. Although things are bad in many other parts of the world, it is the Muslim world that needs immediate attention as it is breeding the worst type of radicalism seen anytime in history. Things are bad in the Muslim world. There is no sense in denying it. In other parts of Africa and Latin America, and even Asia, things are not that good either.

We must begin to realize that immediate action is needed. The slogan of the environmental movement, think globally and act locally, is very apt for this situation. Muslim resentment has roots in sentiments of injustice. Let us begin to give justice where it is due. Strong public pressure on state administrations can yet save the day. The key is to network to achieve global peace. This is possible today. Given the infrastructure, we can do it.

Everyone must try to make a contribution in bringing peace in their own region. Another aspect is to change the individual and make him or her more conducive to the peace message. We must shed our garb of progress, and materialism for simplicity, sharing with others, compassion for the weak, and primarily love for all.

Love is the prerequisite of peace.

The essence of the global movement has to be love for humanity.

We must instill new values in our youth that calls for massive retooling of our educational institutions, especially higher education.

It must be considered fundamental that a new beginning can be made. Surely we all wish the world was a better place, but maybe one good heart at a time can change all the bad in the present world.
It is for all the people to act on their beliefs.
There is no other choice.

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