Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL)
Address by Beth K. Lamont on Ethics
FOWPAL Event of September 8, 2002
Battery Park, New York, NY
Greetings Fellow Peace Persons! What an honor to be among so many distinguished and devoted proponents of Peace. Like myself, you each must envision the creation of a loving and nurturing environment in which all of us Earthlings might live happily ever after.
That sounds like the ending of a fairy tale, but it could be the beginning of a whole new era of enlightenment. Just think! A whole new dawn ... a whole new phase, a whole new experiment in our human existence that might be so radically different from these past centuries ... from these still dark ages of our sad but courageous ongoing human saga.
Actually we are the fearful, hopeful, bewildered, inhabitants of a very lonely little planet. Some of us seek celestial guidance knowing with certainty that we do belong to the observable greater universe, but still, we find no definitive answers to our abiding mysteries, no easy solutions to our problems. Could it be, perhaps, that we're alone? It would be so comforting to believe that there's a plan and that someone is in charge! This uncertainty leaves most of us quite insecure.
We try then to adhere to the loudest booming voices of authority, not wishing to be scorned, or out of step or out of favor, a dreadful feeling left over from our worst childhood fears. And yet, with all of our hopes and dreams and prayers, with our clan loyalty or religious convictions or fervent patriotism ... wherever it is that we place our allegiance... we as Earthlings all, now suddenly, despite our obedience and wish to get along, have come upon our worst nightmare and our most dangerous moment since the beginning days of our existence!
We are enmeshed in the greatest jeopardy of all time today! No plague, no flood, no volcanic eruption, no meteor has ever threatened us, the people of Earth, as we are threatened at this moment. The truth is that because of our own fears and our own uncertainties, and our wish to be comforted by a strong authoritative voice, we are in danger of succumbing to the loudest, booming lies that have ever encircled this Earth! Never before was it possible to instantly promulgate such pervasive propaganda, and for the promoters of these hideous lies to have, as well, the power ... the might and muscle ... to act upon their own illegal, unethical, immoral and inhumane agenda.
Never before have we Earthlings needed ethical leadership so desperately! We pay close attention to the loud, booming voices, as we search for direction and signs of ethical leadership! What has become of respect for human rights? Who is acting in the best interests of all the peace loving peoples on this Earth? Who cares about reverence for all life on Earth? What about respect for and adherence to international laws? Where is an ethical willingness on the part of the US to accept our place as just one Nation among the many Nations of our international family? Where is a commitment to democratic principles or to ethical behavior?
Fellow Peace lovers, we have been betrayed! We can hear the echoes of phrases like the leader of the Free world and bright and shining democracy. How eagerly the so-called developing Nations opted for democracy. They believed; as did the citizens of these United States, that they would have a voice in their governing, and that they would be able to help guide the destiny of their Nation. We, as they, could expect to live in Peace if we chose ethical interactions among ourselves and among the larger international family of Nations.
NOT SO! What ever became of ethics? We are now being told that might is right! The most powerful Nation is wresting permission from the less powerful Nations to defy the laws of logic and of ethics; to scoff at the family of Nations; to break international treaties; to threaten sovereign Nations and entire ethnic groups; to court strange bed-fellows for profit; to value corporations over the rights of citizens; to conger up illusory enemies, initiating military responses to political dilemmas; to keep secrets from its very own citizenry, attempting to hide its previous series of shameful, illegal transgressions, and planning to dominate Space; protect US interests and investments; and "to zap naughty nations." (It's true! See US Space Command.gov on the Internet.)
But horror-of-all-undemocratic-horrors: please recognize that the voice of the people did not speak to elect this arrogant crew, those currently in charge of the havoc that is being inflicted upon the world in the name of US citizens. Indeed they gained control by chicanery ... as smooth a coup d'etat as executed in any banana republic. Where were the UN election observers when we in the US needed them?
If Bush and crew were at least providing ethical world leadership, the sting might be a little less, but, in response to the terrorist attacks, they are bent on revenge. They are wreaking terrorism upon other innocent victims! They are wielding raw power where delicate, respectful diplomacy is called for; using muscle, unmindful of long-range consequences; behaving like testosterone-driven teenagers entirely bereft of mature adult wisdom. They are apparently oblivious to the fact that they are surely leaving in their wake vengeful and angry new generations of potential terrorists.
GOOD GRIEF! HAVE THOSE OF YOU, WHO HAVE TAKEN CHARGE, NO SENSE OF DECENCY?
Do you each, as individuals, perhaps have pangs of conscience? Surely, at some time in your careers of public service, you may have been devoted to ethical behavior. Do you each fear, as it seems many citizens of the US must, that you'll be found lacking in patriotism, and so must support or tolerate the web of lies and the war-mongering. If this is so, you have missed the whole point of democracy! Stop! Stop! Stop and appeal to your very own conscience, and to your own sense of right and wrong! It is the duty of a patriot to point out truths to those in charge whether we have chosen them or not!
All that each of us knows to be true, deep in our hearts ... the basic truths that each of us learned in childhood ... are these unalterable principles: you must treat others with respect in order to be respected; you don't raise your hand to threaten or to cause harm to others, but only to defend yourself from those who would cause harm to you; you must be ethically honest in all of your dealings with others, even though you may be deceived or lied about. You must never take that which does not belong to you, always sharing with those less fortunate, and, as you are able, offering help and kindness.
These principles are so deeply ingrained in our minds and our hearts, whoever we are, wherever we are, regardless of whatever else we believe, that just hearing those loud booming voices of powerful assumed authority, permeating all media, as they attempt to justify the waging of wars in the name of peace-loving people, and, in the process, scaring the pie out of the rest of the thinking world, should, instead of cowing us to accept this arrogant violation of ethical thinking and of ethical behavior, cause a simultaneous cataclysmic sonic shock wave of outrage among all of the peace-loving people of Earth! Resist! Do not be persuaded! Do not be intimidated!
How dare they, those who assumed authority, speak of an axis of evil or of a rogue nation! Cartoonist Walt Kelly was prescient when he had our dear comic strip Pogo wisely observe that he had seen the enemy ... and it was us! The US is the rogue nation!
All persons of conscience have courage! Let your voice be heard! You have a right to tell those in charge, who do not yet seem to understand that war is the problem and not the solution, what you want them to do! Deluge the White House with your phone calls! Dial 202-456-1111 and give them your advice. Again and Again! Join with other voices to speak out in behalf of peaceful alternatives to military intervention.
Take heart in knowing that you are not alone. It is only an illusion ... a trick that's done with mirrors and the media, that gives you the feeling that you are the lone dissenter. It is so important to make contact with other Peace persons to help corroborate your own convictions and give you the moral strength to resist going along with a policy that you know to be unethical. May strength of purpose guide the whistle-blowers, for we are dependent upon their courage for our truths. It is they, on ethical principle, who expose darkened corners, sharing knowledge of strange alliances and hidden histories.
Take heart, the majority of the Nations on the face of this Earth, who meet regularly at the United Nations to try to work out agreements to our mutual benefit, are themselves not persuaded that the once-admired and respected leader of the free world is making decisions that are consistent with the best interests of all Earth people. These Nations have looked to the US with a mixture of respect and fear; after all, it is the only Nation to have dropped an atomic bomb on a civilian population. Alas, the US continues to flirt with war and has a vested interest in maintaining military power.
The US is, on the other hand, a generous provider of aid and services to the United Nations humanitarian efforts, and some would believe that the US is acting honorably on all issues, but in matters of nuclear proliferation, banning of land mines, approving of the conventions on basic rights for women and children, or for the acceptance of the jurisdiction of the newly created International Criminal Court, the US is voting more and more often in the minority, and at times, is the lone dissenter among all of the other Nations. The US has the arrogant assumption that it has the right to be exempt.
This is no way to provide ethical leadership. We citizens of the US look forward to the day that our government assumes its rightful place as world leader and Peace maker working in behalf of win-win solutions to world problems. The founding documents of the United Nations uses the phrase We the peoples of Earth, and speaks of the need to eradicate the scourge of war. Unfortunately, the concept of the sovereign Nation has dominated its activities for more than 50 years. This focus has not met the needs of the peoples of Earth, whose greatest problems are oblivious to national boundaries.
It is inevitable that enlightened self-interest, or instead, what I like to call ethical enlightenment, will replace this narrow National focus, and recognize that the broader issues are boundless. If enough Nations and non-governmental organizations at the United Nations stand firm and together, taking the ethical position that war, violence, and aggression are no longer acceptable, then we may begin to make changes. Who builds the bombs that kill the people? The concerns that affect all of us alike: the air we breathe, water availability, pollution, health issues, food distribution, migration, employment, labor issues, clearing of land mines and toxic substances, energy, climate change, dwindling forests, outer space, discrimination against various groups of Earth-peoples ... all of these, and more urgent matters can then dominate our attention. This ethical turning point will come when the majority of Nations acknowledge the primacy of the human rights concept, and recognize that it is not a peripheral value, but a core value. Human rights must be respected in every decision taken by a Nation or a group of Nations. But even this is not enough! What about unethical corporate power?
Perhaps it is true, as it is said, that corporations are more powerful than many Nations. There is a concept of universal and irreparable harm from which this Earth may never recover as a result of exploitation. Wisely, there is also the concept of the Common Good, which demands a pooling of National sovereignty, the assuming of shared responsibility for all of the systems of Earth which scream to have an international authority; responsibility for one air system, one water system, one forest system, etc.
Unethical business practices and world trade organizations do not meet the needs of Earth or of Earth's peoples. Indeed these plans seek to undermine both democracy and environmental concerns, by focusing on profit-making as though this were the holy grail. This is counter to our best interests! Local democratic control over its own labor and environmental issues will be ground up in this ruthless and unethical machinery that has shamelessly placed profit-making over our human rights and human needs.
Let us have the courage to stand against these efforts. A start might be in demanding that corporations pledge to behave ethically and to pledge to adhere to all agreed-upon international norms, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These firm concepts must be written indelibly into the papers of incorporation which are regulated and licensed by states. In this way the people will regain their power by having legal standing for suing corporate violators in state courts, if not yet, international courts.
With courage and integrity in our own interactions with others, and by collectively holding governments and corporations accountable, we peoples of Earth can have the power and integrity within ourselves to envision, to endeavor, to create and to enjoy the happily ever after scenario for which we all long. Whatever we do, we must not stand passively by and let the loud voices of authority coerce us into believing that military might holds any hope for a safe world; indeed, to the contrary, it invites waves of retaliation and revenge. This kind of simplistic thinking, the "we/they," the "good guy/bad guy" cowboy mentality, whereby "you're for us or against us," is coercive. It does not consider the variety of possible responses. We must reject war. We know it destroys human rights, represses civil liberties, it endangers our well being, our lives, our children, our homes, our communities, our futures, and our own planet Earth.
~ ~ ~
Ringing of the Peace Bell by Beth K. Lamont
FOWPAL Event of September 8, 2002
United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY