Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Paradigm Shift Shifts into a Higher Gear

"Nothing is so unworthy of a civilised nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct."
-- Die Weisse Rose (The White Rose), from the first leaflet

Opposition to U.S./Israeli neoconservative warmaking, slaughter, and profiteering the Middle East is growing in every state, city, and community across the nation. It is growing, too, among the members of every political party and persuasion and every religious group: liberals, progressives, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Native American religionists, and non-believers as well. What we are witnessing may be the beginning a paradigm shift of historic proportions. There is certainly a more general recognition and appreciation of, and a desire for the practical application of, the ethic of reciprocity in human affairs. The change has been a long time coming. Two thousand years ago, Jesus promised that the meek would inherit the earth. "No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought," wrote philosopher John Stuart Mill well over 100 years ago. More recently, the late Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychologist Carl Jung said, "One thing is sure. A great change of our psychological attitude is imminent. That is certain."

A confluence of distrubing developments has grasped the attention of vast numbers of people around the globe and persuaded public opinion of the necessity of significant cultural adjustments. Alarming evidence of an array of truly daunting problems is everywhere seen: global warming and changes in weather patterns; environmental pollution, ecosystem degradation, and the attendant negative effects on plant and animal life; oil shortages, rising energy prices, and a developing energy crisis; inequitable, unstable, and unsustainable economic systems; overpopulation, over-crowding, food and water shortages; a return to Cold-War-era weapon systems proliferation with the associated risks and political tensions; and dangerous deterioration in the areas of interfaith and international relations. In short, we are confronted by the most complex and challenging set of difficulties human civilization has ever faced, leading to the realization that these problems represent a serious threat to the uninterrupted progress of human civilization, and a growing recognition that these are shared, complex, and interconnected problems that humanity can hope to find solutions to, and survive without unimaginably catastrophic loss of life, only through our cooperative and concerted efforts.

"We all have enough strength to endure the misfortunes of other people," observed Fran├žois Le Rochefoucauld more than two centuries ago, but today, for the first time in history, humanity has overarching shared interests and common goals of undeniable importance. Mankind also possesses well-nigh instantaneous communications systems that span the globe. Too often, those commnications systems are used for crude and deceptive political and commercial purposes, programming that instills fear, desensitizes, and dehumanizes vast numbers of people, while stereotyping certain groups. Among the audiences most vulnerable to manipulation and social destabilization are our children. Employed responsibly, those same communications systems could facilitate re-humanization processes that reconnect people and knit together various groups, peoples, nations, and cultures by educating us about important issues, informing us about our shared interests and common goals, and assisting us in focusing on universal values--issues, interests, goals, and values that can no longer be ignored, that clearly take precedence over all petty partisan and sectarian concerns. If ever the time was ripe for a spiritual awakening across the traditional boundaries that have long divided humanity, this is it.

Surely our world is now truly quivering on the brink of one of its most amazing and enthralling epochs of social adjustment, moral quickening, and spiritual enlightenment. And our purported leaders' answer to all of this? Can you believe it? Bush and Cheney offer only a discredited scheme for world domination and more questionable intelligence cooked up in a cracked pot, in conjunction with a well-organized campaign of hateful propaganda and threats of yet another ill-conceived, illegal, and unnecessary war, this time against Israel's enemy, Iran, and perhaps with nuclear weapons, coupled with a deal to give Israel $30 billions worth of U.S. weapons and military hardware and plans to give billions more in military aid to other Middle East governments. Which is to say that official Washington is presenting irrefutable evidence of the utter and complete intellectual, moral, and spiritual bankruptcy of the Bush administration and the Israeli-centric U.S. foreign policy establishment. "They who defend war must defend the dispositions that lead to war, and these are clean against the Gospel," wrote Desiderius Erasmus some 500 years ago. His words ring true today.

Will Americans rise to the challenge and lead change by thwarting the neoconservative cabal's plans for war against Iran? Or, must our country suffer yet greater disgrace and dishonor on the world stage for the sake of the arrogance, greed, and vanity of leaders who have embraced the tyrannical and most destructive uses of power? Will we stand idly by as the Middle East is convulsed by wider war and political upheaval, as more hundreds of thousands die needlessly, their bodies bloodied, battered, and broken by America's already overstretched war machine? Must the economy of our nation and the world collapse in a shambles before the paradigm shift shifts into a higher gear, as, sooner or later, it will? Because so many of our so-called leaders have failed the great test of idealism, the answers to these questions are turning out to be up to ordinary people from all walks of life, people who are committed to the traditional American ideals of equality, justice, and fair play, peacemakers who are joining with their friends and neighbors to shoulder the burdens of civic responsibility in support of domestic and foreign policies based on human rights and the principles of equal treatment under the law and self-determination.

Thus we have before us both the challenge, and the opportunity, of the age.

"Tis true that we are in great danger;
The greater therefore should our courage be."
-- William Shakespeare

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