by Father Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J., PhD
The first act of the American Revolution began in 1776. I think it remains for us to write the second act and perform it. This second act would truly bring liberty and justice for our world, for each human person, created in the image and likeness of God. This second act would be non-violent, courageous, imaginative, and comprehensive. In my vision of this next phase of our evolution, there are five major pieces, or pillars, that we need to focus on to build a just world. Truly today we are technological giants, but are we not moral infants? What structures are necessary for there to be a world more in accord with God’s Word? With care of the earth part of each pillar, the five pillars I presently use as a framework for peace are: a global ethic; non-violence; basic human rights; economic democracy; and a global world authority.
The first pillar of a new world order is to develop and begin to live a global ethic. Religions are exploring today what they have in common. We need to establish worldwide moral guidelines as we move together toward a common future of peace. The World Parliament of Religions has declared we are all interdependent. “Each of us depends on the well-being of the whole. . .We consider humankind our family.” Shouldn’t we acknowledge ourselves as citizens of our country, but also as citizens of the world?
We add the second pillar of a new world building when we create a culture of non-violence, healthy and positive relationships, persuasion rather than coercion. If we are treated unjustly, we can strike back violently or we can be prudent and simply keep quiet. Imaging a third alternative, active non-violence is an historic development on a par in the evolutionary process with the breakthrough to intelligence. It will change our future in a radical way. Non-violence has many components, education, conflict resolution skills, appropriate laws, intelligent and reflective voting, prayer and meditation.
The third pillar of a new world structure is promotion of a culture where basic human rights are second nature. God did not create us to be essentially frustrated. Natural human rights are pleas to one another for our basic material, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. The new Constitution of South Africa gives each person the right to shelter, to health care, to food, water, education; the right to live in a healthy environment. We need new national constitutions and a new world constitution that will make basic human rights part of our online pharmacies and legal structures.
The fourth pillar of a new world building are economic structures through which the people can participate in policy decisions. Made in the likeness of God, we have the right and responsibility to make our own decisions on basic fundamental issues. We can control corporations externally by laws and agencies. We need legally to expand the bottom line of corporations to include care for the common good. We can better control corporations by ownership. The worker-owned cooperatives such as Mondragon are democratically structured. Rather than a limited number of large conglomerates, there should be widespread ownership of the means of production, the factories and farms. Ownership is power. Those in the political realm hesitate to alienate those who own the factories, farms, banks, transportation, and communications media. Widespread ownership would be check and balance to government at all levels.
The fifth pillar of a new world structure is democratic world order. The Catholic Catechism urges us to pray every day that we be free of the “ancient bondage of war.” Since law distinguishes terrorists from the innocent and determines degrees of guilt, something bombs cannot do, law is a more humane way to provide security. Although the United Nations has made many important strides toward a peace with justice, the present UN, a confederation of governments, cannot give us adequate freedom and security. A stronger, more democratic body needs to be imagined. Although law needs to be more humane and infused by the Spirit, law can bring us order, stability, and security. One of the greatest men of the 20th century, Pope John XXIII, made a democratic global structure a moral imperative.
A democratic world authority, economic democracy, a culture of basic human rights, non-violence, and a global ethic are pillars of a new world mansion.
As the five fingers in our hand are interconnected and work harmoniously together, so the five pillars presented above function smoothly together. If one finger of our hand were cut off say by an industrial accident, the finger could not exist apart from the hand. One pillar will not hold the building together. It will collapse.
There are also internal structures in all of us—our attitudes, our values, our philosophy of life. Do we have an attitude of sharing or of hoarding and grasping?
There are many blank spaces in my dream. Perhaps you have a completely different dream. I just hope that you will envision structures you think we need to make this the beginning of a better, more workable world. The future is up to us. I believe with Peter Maurin, the companion of Dorothy Day, that with God’s help we can create a world in which it is easier to be good.
NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.
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