If we are to save ourselves, we must escape the twin clutches of both corporations and nation-states, providing leadership of the irresponsible.
“The world no longer has a choice between force and law; if civilization is to survive it must choose the rule of law.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lines have always bedeviled me, whether they remain parallel and apart unto infinity, or manage somehow a clandestine meeting somewhere shy of eternity; whether the injustices of bread lines and color lines could ever be ended in the sharing of bread and the giving and receiving of rainbows of love; whether the armies arrayed on both sides of the lines in the sand might ever find some way of stopping their foolish arguments about where the lines should be drawn, and instead embrace the give and take of play in a far bigger sandbox.
As a daydreamer I can spend hours watching the chimeric beasts the clouds transmogrify into.
The point is, these are all images we project out upon the world, no less, no more than the lines on the maps, the borders of the various states, that sense of rightness and charged purpose and manifest destiny that drives an empire or would-be empire, to enlarge itself at all cost.
It is this invisible projecting out into the world of our formed and often mis-formed and misinformed sense of identity – a powerful magic – that conjures into being that odd, and most dangerous division of all: “us” and “them.”
So what then are we to do when “Greater Israel” overlays Palestinian land? When Russian and Ukrainian histories rest uneasily upon the same torn piece of territory?
When all the ethnicities of the colonialist-drawn lands of Iraq and Syria, etc., erupt into a desire to manifest themselves in borders they themselves have drawn?
The list is long: Quebec, Tibet, Korea North or South, Bosnia, Kosovo, South Sudan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Scotland, Texas, etc., etc., etc.
If you look at a time-lapse rendering of the way borders come and go throughout history, it’s hard to know which is the greater illusion: the idea that national identities really persist through time, or the idea that any identity can really forever be vanquished through conquest.
So what do we do? Is force of arms to continue to be the main determinant of whether the inhabitants of border village LMO are Citizens of ABC, or duty bound to serve the nation of XYZ?
All along, in fact, and much more now than ever before, the memes that make us think we are who we think we are have been coming from all over, and the genes, too, thankfully, have no trouble at all in falling in love with each other in a blessed hybrid of commingling.
To single out just two sets of my varied neighbors: There is the Israeli-Palestinian couple with two of the most beautiful children on earth, and the American Christian-Malian-Muslim couple whose two young sons already have the dignity and compassion of future leaders.
Here then is the peril, and the hope. On the one hand, the nation-state appears more and more a desperate anachronism as the real powers behind the thrones -transnational corporations – have captured them, policies and policy makers all.
On the other hand, the commensurate power in potentia of our common humanity, found as it is plentifully everywhere and every when, has not yet found the tools necessary to retake the commons of the earth for its common-sense vision of sharing and sustaining. But it will.
The multiple climate change and failed ideology induced paroxysms cascading around the planet at present can be the birth cries of all of us if we seize the opportunity.
It is long past time to reduce nationalism to what it is, at best a child’s fevered support for his favorite sports team; at worse, a disease of the brain, a mental conflagration that excuses all matter of horrors.
If we are to save ourselves and each other, we must get out of the twin clutches of both corporations and nation-states. Neither of them are at their core either person- or earth-centered.
Instead we must desperately and thankfully reach across the illusory – paranoia fixed in place – borders of nations to find the greater, more fulfilling personhood of our common humanity and of the common interconnected life-purpose of all life on Earth.
We must break the state and corporation-manufactured chains which keep us from our true freedom; we must no longer allow murder and ecocide to be perpetrated in our name for the false assurances of security without freedom; we can no longer countenance economic growth for the owners at the expense of both the planet and human communities.
What could be more apparent than that the leaders, government and industry both, bestriding the world and proclaiming themselves wise and knowing, are neither?
The great world conflicts, when analyzed, decocted, and boiled down to their essential bones, amount to this: very young children arguing amongst themselves, each one saying, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” and none of them yet having learned the profound simplicity of sharing. We must be the mothers who take their deadly playthings away.
To the corporate leaders, we must say, “Enough is enough, you have too much already, now you must share.”
To our political leaders who are drunk on their self-importance, we must say, “When you grow up and begin to think about someone besides yourself and your little circle of false friends, you may again be given some small amount of responsibility.”
As is well understood now, these so-called leaders mostly have the personality characteristics of psychopaths and sociopaths; indeed, the higher they’ve risen, the more they earn, the more likely they are to be lacking in empathy.
So why then do we allow psychopaths to tell us what we must have in order to be happy? Why do we allow sociopaths to wave their flags and tell us who we are?
Surely, if we are anything, we are wonderfully varied life-forms on a planet with many different forms of life, all intimately interrelated and all intricately depending on each other for their very existence. But we are now tearing this fabric of being in twain, turning a teaming miracle planet into a dead zone.
Time is very short if we are to save what is left before it all unravels into drought-ridden chaos. Now is the time to escape from psychopathy and sociopathy, and hopefully, humanely, use every means of nonviolent resistance possible for the preservation, creation and sustenance of a community of life on a living earth.
For this to be possible, beyond peaceful civic disobedience, we must also remove our funds and personal energies from the psychopathic and sociopathic systems that are destroying us and move them into alternate systems of energy, finance, food, governance and energy and water security. It is sanity, plain and simple.
“From space I saw earth – indescribably beautiful – but with the scars of national borders gone.” – Mohammad Faris, Astronaut
Daniel H. Garrett is a former US Department of State foreign service officer and currently a senior associate at The Asia Institute.