Israelis and Palestinians…Iraqis and Kurds…Democrats and Republicans…black and white. The divisions among us increase on a daily basis. As we identify with a particular group, we create division between ourselves and other groups. Now, I’m not knocking group identities or cultural heritages, but I am saying this…
How about we first identify as Fellow Humans? Maybe next as citizens of the world…or as shipmates on Spaceship Earth. How would that be?
If that were our primary identity, how would that change things? Would our current differences matter as much? Could we create space for healing and growth?
Who benefits from our division? Certainly not us, no one on either ‘side.’
In a world where the smallest percentage of the population holds the most wealth and power, what do surface divisions matter? Would an equity among citizens of Earth result if we stood together and demanded equity of resources and wealth? What would we have to give up? Old attitudes? Selfish desires? Angry leaders who keep us divided?
If we see the world in a ‘zero sum mentality’ (to use Stephen Covey’s phrase), we see wealth and resources as finite, like slices from a single pie. More for you means less for me, in this paradigm. If instead we perceived things from an abundance mentality, we perceive that we could make more pies together, and all of us could have bigger slices. More for you means more for me. Would that be a better paradigm for cooperation? What stops us from achieving this?
The unarguable fact is that we are all together on this common planet. Any divisions (political, social, etc.) we make are contrived by us and us alone. These borders are imaginary, developed and promulgated by politicians and bureaucrats.
What would we have to give up to achieve an equitable world? Would we have to give up any survival essentials? What if all we had to give up was outmoded attitudes? What if all we had to give up was identification with a group that considers itself separate from other groups of humans? What if all we had to give up was our apathy and our sense of dis-empowerment, to demand from our leaders such equity? What if all we had to do was lay down our weapons, pound our swords into plowshares?
What if instead of another F-35 fighter jet, we were to put that money into solving social inequities? What if instead of a second (or third) car or TV, we were to put that money into funds to help people obtain the things they need for survival? What if you kept your old i-phone and gave the money you’d spend on a new 5-S to the poor?
I was watching a show on how to ‘fix’ or ‘solve’ the Israel-Palestine troubles. One apparently intelligent man argued that the cost would be billions of dollars and would take ten years or more. He said it as if that were a deterrent, an impossibility, as if asking where we could possibly get that kind of money.
The answer seems obvious: if the US had skipped the Iraq and Afghan wars, there would have been enough money and time to accomplish this…we spent more money and time making war (with no apparent gains) than that ‘expert’ projected it would take to create peace. That’s just one single country…what if all countries united in this, spent even a fraction of their ‘defense’ (war) budgets on their citizens?
What would we do if we created a different world, one where we didn’t starve our teachers and recruit more Marines? How would that world look? What would the world look like if the small percentage of the rich were to pay the same taxes as the poor, and that money were used to address world hunger, health, and survival issues?
I’m not suggesting solutions here, merely asking questions…
What if it was more important to be an American than a Democrat or republican? Would that have prevented our recent government breakdown? What if it was more important to be a citizen of the world than to be an American? Would that change things? Would our country act more responsibly, would it be a better world citizen, more a part of the world community, rather than a self-appointed world police?
Am I just a dreamer?
I think not. I am a lover, but I am also a pragmatist, a realist. All it takes is for us all to unite…not as Americans or citizens of countries, not as members of opposing groups, but as world citizens.
If we start from a place of unity and commonality, we have a hope. If we start from a place of division, we have scant little hope.
It’s not up to the government, or the UN, or someone else. It’s up to US…all of us.