||Posted: Dec. 03 2003,11:00
Attached is a short presentation that I made on the Iraq War at the World Future Society Conference in San Francisco in July, 2003. You are welcome to publish it since it has not been published elsewhere. It really generated considerable discussion and I had many people thank me after the presentation. Please just advise me if you decide to use it.
Post-Iraq Prospects for Waging Goodness-A Scenario of Hope
Dr. Lynn Elen Burton
Simon Fraser University
Presentation at the Annual Conference of the World Future Society
World Future 2003: 21st Century Opportunities and Challenges
San Francisco, July 19, 2003.
Calling all people of responsibility! At the risk of being accused of having bad manners, I would like to thank you for giving this Canadian citizen a forum for speaking my mind on ‘The Prospects for Waging Goodness in Post-War Iraq.’ With the limits of time, I am reminded of what President Bush once said to a minor tyrant in a country with oil, “I won’t keep you very long.”
Seriously folks, maybe it is because of my nationality, perhaps it’s my gender, or maybe it’s simply the blond color of my hair, but I just don’t get it. As things just get curiouser and curiouser, I ask myself what was this war all about and where do we go from here? I shake my head and wonder:
1. Was this war about terrorism? How could it be when Iraq was in no way involved in September 11 and Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were known enemies? Indeed, most experts agree that the threat to American security by terrorism have multiplied many fold because of the rallying of the Arab world against unprovoked aggression.
2. Then, if not, was this war about security, protecting Americans from attack? How could it be when after over ten years of UN sanctions, and the ravages of recent wars, Iraq was already on its knees and no conceivable threat. Indeed, 53% of its population is children. Incidentally, just where are those weapons of mass destruction?
3. I still don’t get it. Then, was this war about justice, about getting rid of an evil man who repressed his people? Can this be right? Is it just, to kill thousands of Iraqis just because Saddam Hussein killed thousands of Iraqis?
4. Then, I asked myself, was this war about liberation? How could it be when the new Iraq is a treacherous and unpredictable place, where armed gangs overrun familiar neighborhoods, unexploded munitions speckle favorite playgrounds, women retreat into Islamic hiding, and fear, hunger, poverty and disease abound?
5. Next, I asked myself, was this war about democracy? If so, why haven’t they yet elected their Shite majority that would see a fundamentalist Islamic republic?
6. And finally, if this war is really over as President Bush declared last May, then why have so many people been killed and maimed every day since then?
As my confused blond head considered all of these baffling questions, I eves dropped on a family conversation about the war in Iraq. My wise old mother said, “Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.” “But what happens when “good” people do evil?” my youngest daughter asked. Her grandmother’s common sense reply was, “Well, they aren’t good anymore, are they?”
As I continued to search for answers, it dawned on me that they were right. Something bigger than war was going on – something beyond the scope of the power brokers. Millions of ordinary people were starting to leave the comfort and security of their warm beds to get out in the rain and shout for justice – to demand true goodness. I witnessed the arousal of sleeping public consciousness – on a universal scale.
It occurred to me, that maybe, just maybe, that’s what this war was all about – the ushering in of a new era of public consciousness. Individuals awakened to wage goodness.
Truth was squeezing through the cracks of public consciousness. The ordinary person was beginning to see that President John F. Kennedy was right, “Man must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.”
The way I see it, the United States as the most powerful nation in the world is at a very important crossroads. In one direction lies the strong-armed path to brazen Empire building. In the other direction lies a coalition of the willing to wage goodness. To quote another very famous American, President Abraham Lincoln, “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.”
We’ll make “this campaign will be like no other in history,” by waging no strings attached goodness. Martin Luther King Junior defined this road to peace when he said, “At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” Active goodness calms fears and is contagious. This is basic Psychology 101. Reward trumps punishment everytime.
According to Dr. Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary to the United Nations, this has been a wake-up call of grand proportions. The spiritually sleepy must begin to question the status quo, make sense where there isn’t any, and discover within themselves the deepest issues of goodness, compassion, respect, and above all love, and then, to act on these – to start living their lives around priorities of love rather than fear.
Senator Bird was right, “Democracy and Freedom cannot be force fed at the point of the occupier’s gun.” As the people of the world reclaim the high ground, imagine the collective effect they can have on making the world a better place.
Just think about the possibilities. There are over one billion people in the world without access to clean drinking water. That’s around one in seven people on the planet. While the military mercenaries and corporate arms manufacturers would probably object, what sway do you think the terrorists would have, if the US spent just one quarter of the Star Wars budget on providing clean water for every thirsty person in the world? What potential terrorist could continue in his acts of aggression when his mother, his children, his neighbours, are gifted life. Thirst, famine, lack of shelter are just some of the areas where our collective attention is needed.
In closing, I have come to the conclusion that we must embrace the wisdom of the 6th century Chinese philosopher (Lao Tse),
“If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbours.
If there is peace between neighbours,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home
There must be peace in the heart.”
Now with this said, I bid you to go, find the peace in your heart, and give it to your neighbours. Salaam, shalom, pace, pax, peace be with you.