By Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD
Are the 21st century knowledge-based philosophers and practitioners incapable to rationalize human priorities for peace and harmony to safeguard the besieged mankind from the scourge of WW3? Was Immanuel Kant more proactive and intelligent more than 200 years earlier to think of the best of the mankind in “Perpetual Peace” plan? The prevalent global realities speak of a contemporary world devoid of rational thinking and priorities for peacemaking and peace-building. With countless resources of knowledge and intellect, the world has become a dangerous place – a touch button age capability to undo the entire mankind as if it was burden on the shoulders of the traditional warmongers affluent throughout the industrialized nations. Political and secretive war manufacturing industries are flourishing but peace is not the priority of any assembly line major establishments. It is not that the essential priorities are wrong so are the mindsets and intellectual pursuits of the international warlords managing the global governance. They hold peace conferences but follow the war agenda. Too many academic discussions consume time and energies leaving educators exhaustive for not being able to see any light beyond and above the immediate box of moral and intellectual paradoxes. At times, we are too occupied with dead artifacts and convenient scenarios to discuss peace and the concerns of the global community rather than overriding the sponsored comforts of higher standard of living to pursue change and reformation of the obsolete thoughts and priorities. A reality check frightens the whole of the mankind of the unthinkable consequences what if too many Fukushima disasters become unmanageable. Politicians, scientists and hired experts will debate while the larger parts of the living humanity will be victimized by their failure to perceive the reality.
Man is the nucleus of the concept of humanity and together the narrative exposes the human consciousness and reality to be part of the splendid Universe in which we exist and aspire to establish a peaceful and coherent relationship of co-existence. Despite over centuries of factual knowledge and abundance of empirical observations and critical assessment, we the human species have been incapacitated to think and prioritize our efforts for a lasting and peaceful relationship with the surrounding environment. One of the important factors in this ordeal is the missing understanding of origin of Man and life in relation to the existence of the Universe. God created Man – the intelligent one and with reason, the Universe and all that is visible or unknown and its functional systems and man is held accountable. Albert Einstein on Human Being offered this candid observation:
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."
Political temptations and compulsion can enforce evil’s supremacy but it can never acquire victory as a permanent factor. George Bush and Tony Blair have been indicted by an International Legal Tribunal but continue to enjoy normal life as if they are not responsible for almost 3 million civilian genocide in Iraq. Alfred Nobel – the Norwegian Nobel Foundation had valuable intents and priorities but he did not know that his name will be used by corrupt and wicked politicians to show and tell about peace and war. Kant was true to his belief in Perpetual Peace and so were the people who applauded his visionary thoughts at time when the Europeans desperately needed an end to barbarian wars and to imagine of peace as a way of New Thinking. How it is in the 21st century people of knowledge and wisdom cannot come up something workable to restore that human perception and priority for peace. No human being in a rational state of mind can or will have passion for war. War kill people and do not pave ways for peace and co-existence. In an opinionated world controlled by the few news media outlets and few political warlords, we are losing the true understanding of the consequences of a technologically advanced warfare. From WW1 to WW2, nothing has changed or stopped. These are continuous wars against the mankind and celebrations by the few sadistic minded warlords. UNO, the chief institutionalized hope has proven to be irrelevant and incapable to extend any sense of security, no effective global system of governance, no surety of protection of human rights and dignity, and no conflict prevention mechanism to discourage and stop the aggressors from committing more crimes against the humanity. Ironically, the world organizations are led by self-centered and highly incompetent people to maintain the status-quo and do nothing people as was the case of the League of Nation. There are daily bloodbaths of precious human lives in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere but no strategic revulsion is taking tangible form and shape to stop these atrocities. What the UN Security Council and the General Assembly do is to hold discussions after discussions and the sensational dramas of political stage actors delivering speeches after speeches to shatter the expectations and betray the trust of the global mankind. Most recently, the European Union (EU) was awarded the Nobel Peace prize but nobody understands what it stands for? In conventional wisdom, the Nobel Peace Prizes were meant for people – person, not for abstract and legal, political- economic entities like the EU. Rationality will question what has gone wrong with the Nobel Peace Committee that considered awarding the prize to President Obama and now to the EU. None have anything to do with peacemaking. Somehow the equation of the Nobel Peace Prize and these figures do not relate to one another. The global warlords continue to institutionalize the war manufacturing business and to dehumanize its impacts as if all was well and fine. More so, in its last days, America is overwhelmed with reverse psychology of conflicts-making. It plans to destroy the innocent people in distant lands and instigates reactionary wars to justify its cruelty against the mankind.
William T. Hathaway (“America is under Attack!” Dissident Voice: 5/31/2012), author of A World of Hurt and an adjunct Professor of American Studies, University of Oldenburg, Germany, attempts to clarify how warmongering by the US and Britain have culminated havoc world of action-reactionary warfare in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and now against Iran:
“The USA and Britain committed similar atrocities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. We overthrew their governments, installed dictators, undermined their economies — all to strengthen our business interests. In every nation where we now have terrorism, we had first assaulted them. America is under attack only because it is on the attack. It’s no wonder they hate us. Imagine how we would feel if a foreign country were doing this to us. We’d be fighting back any way we could…… If people knew this — knew how easy it would be to stop terrorism — they wouldn’t want to fight this war. That’s why the media ignore al-Qaeda’s demands. Western leaders don’t want people to see that the war’s real purpose isn’t to stop terrorism but to control the resources of this region. They actually want the terrorism because that gives them the excuse they need — the threat of an evil enemy.”
Ross Anderson (“We’re Underestimating the Risk of Human Extinction” The Atlantic, March 2012), opens up the discussion with an alarming sensitivity to global peace and security of the mankind:
“Unthinkable as it may be, humanity, every last person, could someday be wiped from the face of the Earth. We have learned to worry about asteroids and super volcanoes, but the more-likely scenario, according to Nick Bostrom, a professor of philosophy at Oxford, is that we humans will destroy ourselves. Bostrom, who directs Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, has argued over the course of several papers that human extinction risks are poorly understood and, worse still, severely underestimated by society. Some of these existential risks are fairly well known, especially the natural ones. But others are obscure or even exotic. Most worrying to Bostrom is the subset of existential risks that arise from human technology, a subset that he expects to grow in number and potency over the next century….. Bostrom sees technology as a bridge, a bridge we humans must cross with great care, in order to reach new and better modes of being. In his work, Bostrom uses the tools of philosophy and mathematics, in particular probability theory, to try and determine how we as a species might achieve this safe passage.”
Are the technological advancements more dangerous than the unpredictable thought of a sadistic mindset? Throughout the human history all major wars were instigated by man against man often by accident and overwhelmingly with irrational thoughts of the future consequential outcomes. Problems vary whether innovative technology can sustain life in a mature understanding or could it destroy the existence of mankind in a split second touch button action? Invariably being conscious of the facts of technological outreach and about the risks posed to humans by technological progress, Bostrom is no luddite. In fact, he is a longtime advocate of transhumanism — the effort to improve the human condition, and even human nature itself, through technological means. How can we strike a balance between directing our scientific and technological resources toward mankind’s existing problems rather than the futuristic existential risk and dangerous outcomes?
Are the 21st century political geniuses more redundant and backward that they are unable to speak against the political drudgery and wickedness of the few warlords to destroy the humanity? Surely, Robert Burns, the poet (“Man’s inhumanity to Man”, from his poem Man was made to Mourn: A Dirge, 1785), knew better and must have had unraveling moral and intellectual understanding of the human nature and interests of the global mankind.
If the global institutions were founded on the principle of Man being the supreme creation of God having moral, social, spiritual and legal sets of accountability, perhaps, the conduct of global affairs would have been based on clearly defined laws and systems of governance which would have articulated a fair and just balance of system for all of the living mankind. That is not the case anywhere in the global system. Man’s biggest aspirations were to acquire peace and security through institutionalized approaches and to ensure that history of the past error judgments and sadistic brutality of man killing man will not be repeated. That conscious realization is absent from the global thinking and observations of the outcomes of the major international institutions. None of the global institutions seems to reflect the sacred nature of life and the role of Man in preserving life and its encompassing standards as the pivotal role of obligations on the planet. To reflect at the Nature of Things, the universe encompasses many challenging opposites which exist and operate in peace and harmony: time, space, sun, moon, gravitational rotation of the earth, greed and honesty, fire, water, air, sand, floods, earthquakes, tsunami, disasters, explosions, wars, destructions, bombing and all that can be imagined to destroy the mankind and endanger the continued movement of the splendid, inspiring and harmonious Universe. How is it that Man – a chief creation of God cannot co-exist with fellow Man? Is Man by nature a blood thirsty creature? Perhaps, the invisible forces of culture and environment and societal indoctrinations frame and shape that mindset.
Could Man and the Humanity learn from the past ignorance and arrogance and redirect their thoughts and energies and passion towards positive Thinking, peaceful change and adaptability to the future?
In the 21st century age of information and knowledge driven advanced culture, Man, Humanity and the Universe appear at crossroads. The continued broken pledges of stopping the bogus Wars on Terrorism against the innocent people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Greenhouse effects, depleting natural resources and the secretive space weaponry to be used by man against man and the planet Earth have ruptured the human consciousness and betrayed the trust that the mankind assumed it had over the institutional credibility to serve the interest and priorities of the people of the globe. Global institutions are fast becoming inept and redundant as few sadistic rulers and the war economies of the few cruel superpower nations enlarge their scope of operations to planned killings, global warming on rise and rolling possibilities of extinction of human life are challenging the Thinking people of the globe. Those who are part of the problems can not be part of the solutions. The solutions must come out of New Thinking, New Visions and New strategies for the future-making. Sadly enough, the 21st century so far does not seem to have produced any leaders of vision, integrity and men of Peace and Humanity. What a tragic loss for the mankind if Dr. Martin Luther King was not gunned down and still alive, he could have played that role model. Dr. Martin Luther King was a pioneer of non-violent peace movement for the equality of humanity beyond time and space. Perhaps, Americans could have learnt and benefited more from his ideas and ideals rather than erecting his symbolic statue at a Washington memorial site. In his remarkable address to oppose the Vietnam War, Dr. Martin Luther King (“A Time to Break the Silence – Beyond Vietnam” 4/4/1967) offered this moving insight to challenge the doctrine of war:
“Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.”