by Roger Eaton
On the positive side, humanity is experiencing a welcome long range-trend towards greater understanding, acceptance, and even compassion. Literacy rates are going up. Living conditions are improving generally with proportionally more people being healthy and having to worry less about where the next meal is coming from. But this overall improvement is fueled by unsustainable economic practices. Through a combination of population growth, ever more powerful technologies, and a mistaken belief that we are separate from the natural world, humanity has overstepped nature’s limits. We need to leverage our intelligence and our growing sense of common humanity for a transition to a sustainable world. The great obstacle to our accomplishing such a transition is our appalling lack of unity.
The nations of the world spend some 1.8 trillion dollars annually on arms. The alarming stockpile of nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert is enough to destroy human civilization many times over. Armed as they are, the nations are naturally distrustful of each other and find it hard to cooperate.
We love our nations and religions and won’t give them up, but we must enlarge our sense of common humanity so we can cooperate fully on a global scale. We are no longer in a win-lose world, if we ever were. We have entered a world that is clearly either win-win or lose-lose. Only a powerful realization that we are all in the same boat can provide the perspective and political will needed to get us through the coming population peak without precipitous collapse. That is the big picture.
Nuclear weapons and the Security Council veto together are the great roadblock to Democratic World Federalism. Achieving nuclear disarmament and abolishing the veto go hand in hand, and for both we need a heartfelt sense of human unity. To get there, my suggestion is that we make The Goals of the UN a target that we share with as many people and organizations as possible.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted unanimously by all 193 nations of the UN in September 2015, are awesome. It is hard to believe that the whole world has been able to agree on them. They include gender equality, an end to extreme poverty, combating climate change, reducing inequality and much more — all due by 2030. But they do not include disarmament. See the Wikipedia article for an introduction: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Development_Goals.
The Goals of the UN include both the SDGs and the other pre-existing goals of the UN such as disarmament, both nuclear and general, and human rights. Of course, DWF needs to keep its focus, but wherever possible, World Federalists should team up with forces that, while they have their own focus, are also targeting all the goals of the UN, just like we are. By aligning a movement for all the goals of the UN with the wave of SDG support that is building, we can influence others in the SDG movement to include disarmament in their thinking.
This strategy could work. There is an excellent argument that the SDGs cannot be achieved on their own without including disarmament in the package. Full cooperation is needed to achieve the SDGs, but nuclear arms are a visible sign that we live in an us vs them world where full cooperation is seen as a losing strategy for individual nations. Being armed to obliterate each other is just not a good foundation for cooperation and trust.
Then, too, there is the question of raising the money that will be needed to implement the SDGs. The estimate is about 4 trillion USD a year at a minimum. Military expenditures globally amount to about 1.8 trillion USD, so disarmament would be greatly helpful towards freeing up revenue needed for the SDGs. As a third argument, the actions of the military, even in peacetime, are highly damaging to the environment and so make progress towards sustainability more difficult.
A Nonviolent Global Citizens Movement (GCM)
To achieve The Goals of the UN we will need a massive nonviolent global citizens movement (GCM), nothing less. And yes, of course local organizing around local issues is a must. But as I see it for local organizing to be effective, it must be in the context of a global movement for human unity. But that global movement for human unity is the GCM we are working towards. How do we get around this Catch 22?
Voices of Humanity is my answer. It gives us the context that makes our local organizing meaningful on a global scale. As we build towards a full scale GCM, the Voice of Humanity-as-One boosts morale and gives us a sense of being in the same boat; the Voices of Women and Men build gender equality into the foundation of the global movement; and the Voices of Youth, Middle-age and Seniors maintain humanity’s sense of being in process rather than a static entity while helping to bring in young people, which we need to do.
What is Voices of Humanity?
Humanity has love, intelligence and spirit more than enough to overcome our difficulties. What we need is a tool to express our sense of unity in a way that does not box us in, but rather opens up avenues for cooperation at every level from the local to the global. That’s what Voices of Humanity (VoH) is, a new kind of social medium designed to foster human unity in a complicated and unpredictable world. Voices of Humanity has the flexibility needed to cope with the unexpected. Give it a try and see for yourself at ugc.idp.intermix.org.
The VoH software puts together three formats: 1) the group list-serve / forum, which gives local civic society organizing efforts a way to communicate within the group; 2) the social media format with a “wall” and “friends,” which enables participation at the individual level; and 3) the local-to-global Voices of Humanity discussion, which enables collective participation by gender and age, city and nation.
The Voices of Humanity discussion is organized around a monthly cycle and is open to participation by both individuals and by group members. At every new moon, a new discussion period begins. During the month, participants write “candidate” messages. They also read, rate and comment on candidate messages written by others. Results of the ratings for the previous month are easily viewed with “winners” displayed for each of the six voices of humanity: humanity-as-one, women, men, youth, middle-aged and seniors.
Another feature that sets Voices of Humanity apart is its local-to-global geographic slider. The geographic slider lets the participant shift the focus from city to metro to province/state to nation to Planet Earth. At each level, only messages written by others who share the same locale with the participant are visible. Results from the previous month are likewise narrowed if the setting is below the global level. This means we can see the overall winner for San Francisco or Greater Cairo or for Japan. The ability to go down to the city level will be useful for organizing bottom up participation by networks of cities, such as Cities for CEDAW or Mayors for Peace or Sister Cities or Cities of Compassion.
Checkboxes for Indigenous, Interfaith, Other minority, and Veterans make it easy for people who identify with these groupings to have their own global voices by gender and age as well as overall. It is an exciting prospect – imagine a collective voice for indigenous peoples from all areas of the world! How curious to bring veterans together from all nations. Theirs will be a voice for peace!
Importantly, candidate messages for the current month can be in reply to one of the winners from the previous month at any level. This sets up the possibility of an exchange of messages between the six voices and across levels. For instance, Indigenous Youth of Quebec might reply to the previous month’s winning message from the Women of the Central African Republic.
The VoH software will give a collective voice not just to the genders and generations, but also to the nations. In the process, the animosities that block full international cooperation will be dissolved. Why? Because a collective national voice in the context of 1) a global Voice of Humanity-as-one, and 2) a simultaneous exchange between the genders and generations within the nation in question, will not fall prey to fear and hate. Hardliners will stay away because merely by participating, they will be supporting human unity.
Coming up by January, there will be a way to use specially designed hierarchical hashtags to specify a topic and its subtopics. At the new moon, results will be available for the six voices of humanity for each topic and subtopic with concurrent local-to-global selection also available. A writeup using the SDGs as a good example is available here: http://voicesofhumanity.org/using-the-sdgs-as-a-framework-for-local-to-global-organizing-an-example.
The great difficulty is to incentivize participation, especially at the beginning. The planned solution is to use crowdfunding to collect money that will be given to the author of the humanity-as-one winner each month for distribution to the NGO of that author’s choice. I call the program “Make your gift work twice,” ie, once to incentivize participation and again to fund a non-profit. This program could bring in local non-profits who are hoping to win funding. DWF might want to encourage participation of its members.
My latest writeup of the positives and negatives of the Voices of Humanity project is here: http://voicesofhumanity.org/voices-of-humanity-un-goals-as-a-scaffold-for-local-to-global-organizing. There are plenty of negatives. The software is still at the prototype stage, but already it is in working order and by the beginning of 2016, the remaining bugs and quirks will be taken care of
So that’s it. Adopt The Goals of the UN as a strategic goal for DWF. Network with other organizations that have this same strategic goal. Work to convince the SDG people that disarmament would give the biggest possible boost to the SDGs. Aim for a nonviolent Global Citizen’s Movement (GCM) that pushes for The Goals of the UN. Use and support Voices of Humanity as a tool for building the GCM.
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.