Month: <span>May 2021</span>

David Cortright Book Reviews

David Cortright Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash.

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008, 376pp.)

David Cortright;  Director of Policy Studies at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies;  and an activist especially on nuclear arms issues;  has set out a clear and up-to-date history of the ideas and movements that make up the colors on the peace pallet.

Sometimes Alone and Sometimes in Combinations.

Peacemaking has always been an art rather than a science.  As with painting;  there is a pallet with a range of colors;  and it is up to the artist to know how to combine these colors;  sometimes in pure form;  and at other times mixed together to paint a picture;  sometimes of a peaceful field;  and at other times a scene of revolt. 

As with colors in art;  there are a limited number of ideas which can be used;  sometimes alone and sometimes in combinations.  Likewise;  there are a limited number of people in the peace brigades;  and they are usually found in different campaigns;  often the same people in different uniforms. Open conflicts provide us with test cases of how ideas concerning peace;  and conflict resolution can be put together;  and we see how the peace brigades will form themselves to meet the challenge.

The Hague Legal Spirit.

David Cortright gives us a good overview of the development of the 19th century peace societies.  They were born in the USA and England from the success of collective action against slavery;  and the slave trade.  If the age-old institution of slavery could be abolished by a combination of law, religious concern;  and changing public opinion; could not war be abolished in the same way?  Religious-motivated action;  work to influence public opinion; and legal restraints on war have continued to be the chief colors of the peace pallet.

The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 were milestones in the development of world law;  of faith in the power of mandatory arbitration;  and for the need of world courts.  The Hague legal spirit was most prominently displayed slightly later by President Woodrow Wilson;  who had long espoused arbitration;  the strengthening of international law and multilateral cooperation.

The League of Nations and the United Nations are the embodiment of the Wilsonian vision. As H.G. Wells wrote in The Shape of Things to Come  “For a brief interval Wilson stood alone for humankind…in that brief interval there was a very extraordinary and significant wave of response to him throughout the earth.”

“Father Figure”

Wilson remains the ‘father figure’ of peace through law;  and multilateral governmental action just as Mahatma Gandhi does for non-violent action.  As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus;  above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale.” Peace efforts require images for a complex set of ideas;  and Wilson and Gandhi provide that image of the heroes of peace.

Wilson and Gandhi represent the two steady sources of inspiration for peace workers — those working for the rule of law;  and human rights and those working to translate religious insights into political action.  

“Duty to Protect”.

Today;  as the conflicts in Yemen;  and Syria-Iraq-ISIS grow in intensity and spill over to influence Turkey;   we face many of the same issues that faced peace workers in the conflicts of former Yugoslavia: what are the sources of legitimate government;  and when does a government cease to be legitimate? Is there really a ‘duty to protect’;  and when does this duty become only a cover for power politics as usual?.  How do peace workers act in “far away places”  in which both legal and moral issues are not clear.

Peace remains a painting in process; the colors are often the same, the shapes painted change. David Cortright has given us a good history, but there are no ‘how to’ guides for action.

Rene Wadlow; President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Langston Hughes Rapprochement of Cultures.

Langston Hughes. A People’s Poet.

Winold Reiss, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

(1 Feb 1902 – 22 May 1967)

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was an African-American poet;  through Negro was the term at the time;  and many of Hughes’ poems have Negro in the title as his “A Negro speaks of rivers”. He was an important figure of what is called The Harlem Renaissance – a strong cultural current in New York City from the mid 1920s to the mid 1940s. (1)

He  was largely raised by his grandmother;  his father having left to live in Mexico and his mother lived else where in order to work. Although Langston Hughes;  as many U.S. African -Americans had white ancestors;  his grandmother stress having pride in being black. Later in his life;  Hughes was called a “Negro Nationalist” but he always considered himself as a Citizen of the World with a special bond to the oppressed.

Columbia is a private elite university

Hughes  spent 1921 as a student at Columbia University in New York City;  but left after one year considering himself as a victim of racism. Columbia is a private elite university; and at the time most of the students and professors were white. However, Columbia is on the edge of the Harlem section of New York City. Thus Langston Hughes got his first views of urban African-American life. He spent most of his working life in Harlem.

However, He continued his university studies at Lincoln University;  a Negro University  near Philadelphia. He started writing poems while at university;  which were increasingly published. He met Vachel Lindsay;  a poet in the style of Walt Whitman;  who used to declaim his poems in theaters and public meetings. Lindsay recognized Hughes’ talent and helped with introductions to editors.

The Weary Blues.

 

Then Langston Hughes spent a year in Paris;  where he met young university students from Africa and became interested in the culture of French-speaking Africa although;  he never lived there. He returned to New York City and in 1926 became a co-editor of Fire!!, a literary journal for young Negro artists. In 1926 he published one of his best known poems “The Weary Blues” (blues being a form of jazz music). As Hughes wrote “Jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America; the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul – the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world;  a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile.”

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes: Gordon Parks, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Communist Party

 Hughes wrote daily sections- part short story;  part reporting of scenes of daily life of a working class Negro. At the time in Chicago and New York there were widely-read Negro newspapers;  which have since disappeared. His poetry was published largely in Communist or left-wing journals such as The Anvil, The Challenge, The Partisan.

However,  Hughes was never a member of the U.S. Communist Party as such and his writing was non-theoretical.  Communist editors in the 1930s looking for “proletarian literature” found Hughes’ spoken style fitted their need to show oppression of the worker.

As Hughes wrote in “Let America be America Again”
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed,
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung
The millions who have nothing for our pay
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.”

Black Pride

Langston Hughes and his friend Richard Wright who lived most of his later life in France;  were among the most highly visible African-American cultural figures working for what was called “Black Pride” Both were humanists and were unrelated – if not opposed – to churches. Churches were then and remain a crucial element of African-American leadership;  Martin Luther King being a later model.

Richard Wright

 

Richard Wright: Gordon Parks (1912-2006), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

With the coming of the 1950s, the Cold War and an anti-Communist atmosphere often associated with Senator Joseph McCarthy;  most of the Communist – left-wing journals disappeared. Although still young; Langston  Hughes in the public mind was associated with the 1930s and the Harlem Renaissance. He continued to write;  especially letters to friends which have since been collected and published. He was seen as a “father-figure” by the younger generation of African-American activists;  not really as one of them. He followed the model of his early friend Vachel Lindsay and gave many public readings of his poems in universities and other public meetings. His writings merit being known by readers today.

Note

1) See two of Langston Hughes’ autobiographies: The Big Sea (1940)
and I Wonder as I Wander (1956)

As a biography see the two volume life by Arnold Rampersad The Life of Langston Hughes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986)

Rene Wadlow, President , Association of World Citizens

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Albert Einstein Rapprochement of Cultures.

Albert Einstein: Remember Your Humanity and Forget the Rest.

Featured Image: Albert Einstein (1947). By Photograph by Orren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J. Modified with Photoshop by PM_Poon and later by Dantadd., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge and wisdom.  Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels?  We appeal as human beings to human beings: R ember your humanity, and forget the rest.
                                             – Russell-Einstein Manifesto, 1955

14 March is the birth anniversary of Albert Einstein, born in Ulm, south Germany, in 1879 and died in Princeton, New Jersey in 1955. I was a student at Princeton University from 1953 to 1956, and as I liked to walk in the late afternoon, I would cross Albert Einstein, who also liked to walk, coming from his office at the Institute for Advance Study. I would say “Good Evening, Professor Einstein” and he would reply “Good Evening, Young Man”.

Einstein’s home was on Mercer Street, close to the University campus and seeing him was a sort of link to the history of science − though I had no idea of what his scientific ideas were all about.  In the popular mind, Einstein was somehow related to nuclear science and thus the Atomic Bomb, but the relation was not clear.  The link with the A Bomb was much clearer with J. Robert Oppenheimer who was the director of the Institute for Advanced Study from 1947 to 1966 and that I would also cross occasionally on my walks.

The Manhattan Project.

  Oppenheimer had been the scientific head of the Manhattan Project which developed the atomic bomb during World War II. Oppenheimer later disagreed with US government policy concerning control of nuclear weapon. In the “guilt by association” atmosphere of the early post-war, Oppenheimer, having been friends with and married to people who were communists, had his government security clearance taken from him in 1954.  He returned to “pure” theoretical physics, and symbolized for many of us at the time, the mindless anti-Communist associated with Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Einstein was never really involved with nuclear physics though some of his ideas had been used by those working directly on nuclear physics.  In his years at the Institute for Advanced Study, which he joined in 1933, he was trying to develop a unified field theory which would unify four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force − all to provide a unified understanding of the basic laws of the physical universe.  

He was never able to work it out, but the Institute for Advanced Study was created in 1930 to allow a small number of important thinkers to go on thinking without having to do any university lecturing or to publish in order not to perish.  Einstein had the look of someone who was thinking, and probably few asked him for a reprint of his last paper.

My admiration for Einstein was unrelated to his scientific ideas which I did not understand but to his work for peace and for stronger world organizations that could promote peace.  As he wrote “Just as we use reason to build a dam to hold a river in check, we must now build institutions to restrain the fears and suspicions and greeds which move people and their rulers.”

One World or None.

The 1950-1953 Korean War was just winding down with no “victor”; the French war in Vietnam was still on. Europe was divided. By 1955, ten years after the first use of nuclear weapons on Japan, both the USA and the USSR had a range of thermonuclear weapons more potentially destructive that the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “One World or None” had been the cry of those, like myself, who joined the United World Federalists in 1951 as a secondary-school student. We were looking for leaders to articulate the effort for a nuclear-weapon free world.  

Albert Einstein was such a voice, and he had joined the Advisory Board of the  World Federalists.  He was by conviction and also by life experience a world citizen: German born, educated in Switzerland, he had become a Swiss citizen.  He saw the narrow, aggressive nationalism of Hitler destroy much of German scientific life and then turn to the wholesale persecution of Jews and political opponents.  Einstein was fearful of the narrow anti-communism in the USA in the late 1940s- early 1950s.  There were even voices which said that his anti-atom bomb efforts were disloyal and paving the way for a communist takeover of the US.

The League of Nations Committee.

Albert Einstein, while working in Switzerland, in the 1920s had been active in the League of Nations Committee on Intellectual Cooperation − an early effort to develop cooperation among intellectuals in the natural sciences, the social sciences and the arts to work for cross-cultural understanding and peace.  Bertrand Russell − the multifaceted English intellectual − had also participated in the League efforts and saw the need for a new wave of action directed to the dangers of US-USSR war where nuclear weapons might be used if ever a situation became desperate.  Bertrand Russell wrote the Manifesto and asked a small number of nuclear scientists from different countries to co-sign the statement.  

Albert Einstein signed the statement − one of the last things he did.  Russell received the signed letter a couple of days after the announcement of Einstein’s death.  The Manifesto became the Russell-Einstein Manifesto and was publicly issued in July 1955.

For a nuclear-weapon free world, we still need vision, leadership, responsiveness, empowerment, and persistence.  An ongoing challenge is to stay focused and specific and yet have a broad, integrated and unified vision.  We need to be flexible and receptive to new ideas and new openings but also have stability in our identity as world citizens.  

By Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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world citizens UN: Growth of World Law.

Citizens of the World Diplomacy.

Picture by  Artem Beliaikin on Pexels

The crisis today in human affairs is represented not by the absence of human capacity, but by the failure to recognize that the capacity exists. What gives hope its power is the release of human energies generated by the longing for something better”.

Norman Cousins.

The Association of World Citizens.

Douglas Mattern;  was the founding  president of the Association of World Citizens;  when in 1975 he brought together individuals;  who considered themselves as Citizens of the World;  but were working within a host of other prizce organizations. He has since died;  but his efforts for world citizen diplomacy has continued and expanded.

One of the primary duties of State leaders;  is to identify and then to defend against enemies. As soon as a pair of states begins to identify one another as enemies; as the USA and the Soviet Union did in 1945 at the end of the World War;  they take steps that confirm and amplify the initial fears;  thus starting a cycle of action and reaction.

For American leaders;  the Soviet Union represented not only an expansionist state;  but was also a leader of a more vague and undefined “international communism”. For the Soviets the USA was an atomic-weapon state; but also the champion of an effort to destroy the “socialist system”.

Many citizens feel that if a government fails to be vigilant in its “threat assessment” of the present danger;  then that administration does not deserve to govern.

Cycles of Distrust and Resort to Arms.

We see after “9/11”; the same political and security mechanisms made all the more difficult; because “Islamic Fascism” is even more vague and undefined than “International Communism”; and does not have a specific “home state”; as the Soviet Union or China had for Communism.

There are basically two types of activities; which people can take to modify; such cycles of distrust and resort to arms.

The first is the role of “kibitzer” — the person; who is on the sideline in a game of cards; who says after each hand

“I would not have played the Ace of Hearts then.”

Likewise we can say :

“If I were in the place of President Bush; I would not have gone into Afghanistan, much less Iraq.”

A good deal of world citizen energy; has gone into efforts to convince governments that nuclear weapons; nuclear-weapons testing; and keeping nuclear weapons on “hair-trigger alert” is unwise.

It is likely that had there not been the anti-nuclear efforts starting in 1945; when as Albert Einstein said 

“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking; and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe”.

Governments would have continued to develop and test nuclear weapons; driven by only technical and strategic considerations.

Photograph by Orren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J. Modified with Photoshop by PM_Poon and later by Dantadd., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community-Based Moral Voices.

Much of the drive for arms control and disarmament has come from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and from community-based moral voices; such as that of Martin Luther King, Jr who said :

“I do not minimize the complexity of the problems; that need to be faced in achieving disarmament and peace. But I am convinced that we shall not have the will, the courage; and the insight to deal with such matters unless in this field; we are prepared to undergo a mental and spiritual re-evaluation; a change of focus which will enable us to see that the things that seem most real and powerful are indeed now unreal; and have come under sentence of death.

It is not enough to say ‘We must not wage war!’; It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the eradication of war; but on the affirmation of peace.”

Martin Luther King, picture: Colors by Emijrp, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The value of being a “kibitzer” at the United Nations through non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the UN; is that one can give advice to a host of governments. Out of the 192 UN members; some governments will be interested and take up ideas which; later may be found in resolutions.

NGO representatives cannot claim “ownership” of the ideas; but the constant repetition of basic ideas of conflict resolution, human rights, and a fairer economic system; keep these ideals in front of decision makers.

Citizen Diplomat.

Another approach is the role of “citizen diplomat”. As Douglas Mattern notes:

Citizen diplomacy is an idea whose time has come. With modern technology; individuals and organizations from diverse parts of the globe; can have instant communication through the Internet, telephones, and fax machines.

The marvel of telecommunications; along with the relative ease and speed of travel; provide the capability for joint activity among people that was not previously possible.”

Mattern tells of his experiences as a citizen diplomat in the Soviet Union; on “Citizen Diplomacy Volga Peace Cruise” — trips starting in 1983; organized by Alice and Howard Frazier of Promoting Enduring Peace.

During the eleven hundred mile trip on the Volga with stops at major cities along the way; there were workshops and exchanges of views and perceptions. Later in 1986; there was a return trip down the Mississippi; during which thousands of Americans came to greet the Russians on the Delta Queen steamboat; and to extend their own message of peace and friendship.

The multiplication of such examples of citizen diplomacy; helped to break down the walls which the Cold War had created; both physical and mental walls. Mattern sets out the basic aims of citizen diplomacy:

“ Our unyielding task is to build a world community that respects law and justice, the sharing of resources, and the creation of a new civilization based on respect for life, respect for the environment, and respect for each other.”

Rene Wadlow; President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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David W. Augsburger. Conflict Mediation Book Reviews

David W. Augsburger. Conflict Mediation Across Cultures : Pathways…

Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash.

(Louisville KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992, 310pp).

John Paul Lederach tells the story of one of his intercultural mediation workshops in Panama where: 

someone said that mediators were like guides leading people through complexities. The image stuck. By the end of the week, we almost never spoke of mediators but rather of guides.”

 Mercury was the classic Greek messenger between humans and gods;  and often served as a guide in quarrels. But Mercury has been taken over as the symbol of doctors. Today;  it would be difficult to remould him as the god of conflict transformation. Another guide;  who is still in active service is Fa – the messenger divinity in the Nago-Yuroba culture of Benin and Nigeria. Fa has taken root under other names in the African-related cultures of Brazil, Cuba, and Haiti. Politicians regularly consult the priests of Fa  when taking difficult decisions. The priest interprets the will of the gods by analysing a complex series of myths;  which gives hints as to desirable outcomes.

David Augsburger’s book is a treasure house of examples drawn from many cultures for conflict transformation;  which he defines as the task:

to reopen the future for the parties to the dispute in ways that empower them to move back into responsible relationships.”

The Confucian Model.

 David W. Augsburger looks at different cultures;  to see what they can teach concerning conflict transformation. In all cultures;  there are pathways for handling disputes;  processes for coping with power differentials;  roles for mediators and means of achieving mutually satisfactory settlements. Thus;  in the Japanese tradition;  there is a tendency to resolve conflicts by the use of patience;  forbearance and the passage of time;  by “letting the dispute flow to the ocean.” The objective is to settle the dispute in such a way as to restore friendly relations;  to regain a sense of harmony.

Chinese culture also stresses harmony as the prime cultural virtue. Conflict avoidance is a basic orientation in Chinese social processes;  rooted in the Confucian model of society;  based on the maintenance of harmony in interpersonal relations. However;  there is a particular danger inherent in this mode of dealing with conflicts;  based on face-saving. It can lead to confrontation avoidance;  but not to a genuine resolution of conflicts.

No Real Conflict Transformation is Possible.

As Augsburger points out “The more harmony-oriented that a group is;  the more conflict-sensitive the group will be; the more committed the group to practicing the cultural value of harmony, the more intensely conflict will be internalized,” through the absence of verbal aggression, absence of direct expression of feelings, the avoidance of confrontation.

Yet despite the mutual appreciation of harmony as a cultural virtue;  there was a long war between Japan and China;  which has left scars until today. Thus;  an understanding of the forms;  which conflict takes in each society does not insure that conflicts will be transformed without violence. However;  it is safe to say that without an understanding of the deep cultural roots of the ways in which conflict is expressed;  no real conflict transformation is possible.

A conflict is always a privileged moment for the study of a society – or of oneself. As Johan Galtung has said

It is precisely during periods in our lives when we are exposed to a conflict that really challenges us, and that we finally are able to master, that we feel most alive.”

Johan Galtung

Prof. Johan Galtung: David Lisbona from Haifa, Israel, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Concept of Metamorphosis.

 David Augsburgter was one of the first to stress the need for the concept of conflict transformation;  in the place of the terms conflict management or conflict resolution. Transformation requires a metamorphosis in each of three aspects: transforming attitudes, transforming current behaviour, and transforming the way the conflict is structured.

The concept of metamorphosis is taken from Western and Chinese alchemy;  and Augsburger’s study encourages us to look at Carl Gustav Jung’s long efforts to interpret the Western and Chinese alchemical tradition;  for their insights into psychological transformation. As Augsburger is a Professor of Pastoral Care in a Protestant theological seminary;  he also draws upon Christian thought.

Carl Gustav Jung

Carl Gustav: ETH Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The word pathways of the subtitle is a good characterization of the book. There are many ideas, stories, and examples drawn from diverse cultures. Each reader will explore different ways. I believe that each will be rewarded by what is found.

René Wadlow, President of Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Myanmar military Appeals

Burma: An Alternative to Military Rule Takes Form.

Featured picture credit: MgHla (aka) Htin Linn Aye, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, taking advantage of a clause of the Myanmar constitution providing the possibility for the military to establish a state of emergency, took power.  The military already played a dominant role in the civilian-led government of Aung San Suu Kyi which started in 2015.  The military automatically held key security ministries as well as an automatic non-elected percentage in the national parliament, giving the military in practice a veto on any legislation that it did not like.  It is unclear why the military leadership felt that its political and financial position was so much in danger that it needed a coup to take full control, arrest much of the civilian leadership, an estimated 2000, and force others into exile or to the frontier areas  largely under the control of armed ethnic groups such as the Karen.

Pete Souza, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Aung San Suu Kyi: Pete Souza, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

It is true that the elections to Parliament on 8 November 2020 gave Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy an even larger majority and showed her popularity in all sections of the population.  The Parliament could have started to investigate the role that the military play in the economy, both the legal economy such as owning the conglomerate Myanmar Economic  Economic Holding Public Company and the illegal drug and gem-related trade.  However, the Parliament had had five years of relatively democratic rule and had not moved against the financial involvement nor against the Army’s highly destructive campaign against the Rohingya, causing nearly one million to flee to Bangladesh  and a smaller number toward the northeast states of India such as Mizoram and Nagaland.

“Everything will be OK”.

General Min Aung Hlaing who led the operation against the Rohingya as well as against other minority groups as Chief of Staff took a calculated risk in leading the coup, knowing that such a coup would be unpopular with neighboring States as well as unpopular at the United Nations. He could not know how much popular opposition would result and what tactics the opposition would use.  Much of the opposition to the military leadership has come from young people who had come to maturity during the years of transition to democratic structures starting in 2011.  Ma Kyal Sin, a 19-year old, wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with the message “Everything will be OK” killed by a military sniper in Mandalay on 3 March 2021 is a symbol of this youthful opposition.

However, an alternative to military-led government has to be more than a youth-led opposition. Thus a group of elected members of Parliament has now formed an alternative government, a Government of National Unity although most of the members are in exile abroad. The alternative government has started to work on a new constitution which would develop a federal or con-federal form of government.

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

In 1985, the Association of World Citizens became concerned with the conditions of the ethnic minorities in Burma.  We were in contact with the representatives of ethnic minorities, in particular the Karen, Kachin, Shan and Mon who would come to Geneva for sessions of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.  One leading world citizen was able to spend time in the Kachin area having entered via Thailand.  We discussed what might be a federal or con-federal government.  The representatives of the minorities often knew what they did not want: a centralized government that did not respect the cultural values of the minorities.  They were less clear on what a federal government would be.

The new government in exile wishes to symbolize such a federal government. Of the 26 ministers, 13 are from ethnic minorities.  The Executive would be headed by Duwa Lashi La, a Kachin, the Prime Minister would be Mahn Win Khaing Than, a Karen, the Defense Minister would be Lian Hmung Sakhong, a Chin.  Eight women would be part of this executive, including Zin Mar Aung as Foreign Minister and Karen Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe as the newly created Minister of Women, Youth and Children.  A quarter of this 26-person executive are not linked to any political movement or party but were chosen for their experience.

The alternative to military rule is taking a positive form.

It is obviously too early to know what are the chances of the military giving way to this alternative structure.  There are real possibilities that armed conflict will increase as some of the youth are joining existing ethnic armed movements.  We have to hope that there will be a growing international demand within the United Nations and among non-governmental organizations for a transition to this national unity government.  Long years of armed opposition have only led to human rights violations, economic stagnation, and population displacements.  New avenues of action are necessary.  The alternative to military rule is taking a positive form.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Burma’s Crumbling Junta

February first marked the anniversary of the military coup which overthrew the government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021.  She was in practice the leader of the government but…

World Humanitarian Day: A Need for Common Actions.

Featured Image: Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash. The United Nations General Assembly has designated 19 August as “World Humanitarian Day” to pay tribute to aid workers in humanitarian service…

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Nicosia Negotiations on the future of Cyprus Book Reviews

Nicosia Beyond Barriers. Voices From A Divided City

A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace), FAL,

Alev Adil, Aydin Mehmet Ali, Bahriye Kemal, Maria Petrides (Eds.)

(London: Saqi Books, 2019, 249pp.)

Negotiations on the future of Cyprus encouraged by the United Nations remain deadlocked.  There is on the one hand a largely Greek-led Cyprus which is a member of the European Union, a Turkish-led Cyprus which wishes to be called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and between the two a zone under the control of U.N. peacekeepers.  Nicosia, the capital city, is a reflection of this  three-way division.

As Mary Anne Zammid writes in “Shades of A City”  Between night and day, the city is closed, divided by cold gates.  In the midst of silence and lines of despair, walls of silence sending instructions without meaning, only feeling of captivity.

However, there is also a Cypriot culture which is an outgrowth of long cohabitation as well as minorities from other Mediterranean countries such as Armenians and Palestinians or newer diaspora such as people from Zimbabwe and Nigeria.   There is also a strong British influence due to the British colonial rule.

Ledra Street Crossing.

This anthology of short stories, poems and reflections gives a good picture of the complex interactions including those who want a Cyprus without walls and lines that divide. As Rachael Pettus writes in her poem “Ledra Street Crossing ”

People fill out papers, hand over documents and file through checkpoints, orderly, polite… And the birds?  They flap from rooftops and balconies, sing in the trees and weave between flagpoles.

Birds are often used as symbols.  Alev Adil in his “Fragments From An Architecture Of Forgetting” recalls what the Sufi sage Aamer wrote that doves were our nobler feelings, the ravens our anger, our fear, our doubt.  We must free the doves, let them fly free, but should keep the ravens locked in or they will return with their malevolence redoubled.

For the moment, there are more ravens than doves.  Thinking of new possibilities is necessary.

You can acquire your book here Saqibooks.com

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Burma’s Crumbling Junta

February first marked the anniversary of the military coup which overthrew the government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021.  She was in practice the leader of the government but…

World Humanitarian Day: A Need for Common Actions.

Featured Image: Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash. The United Nations General Assembly has designated 19 August as “World Humanitarian Day” to pay tribute to aid workers in humanitarian service…

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Mothers Day Education of World Citizenships.

Our mothers. The Fundamental Pillar of Society.

Photo by Giftpundits.com in Pexels

Perhaps many expect the typical article that should be titled:  

“Congratulations to all the mothers on their day”

or   “Mothers celebrate their day.”

Something like this to cite some examples.

But it is not the goal. An image of “congratulations on mothers day”; everyone can download it anywhere and then post it on social media. Even today; the true value of the mother figure has not been given to the strengthening of society.

We focus on seeing only the materialized goals. But no one stops to think about the training process. Everything has a beginning. As a society; we must focus on this. Especially in Latin American cultures; mothers are the forgers of those men and women who are going to shape society; and the degree of civility will depend exclusively on the values ​​formed from the person’s childhood.

Children with values ​​are destined to become productive citizens; contributing knowledge and knowledge for society. They will be noble people and will adapt perfectly to work teams; and thus achieve collective objectives.

Mothers are Active Part in the Education of Their Children.

It does not happen in all cases. But a person; who has not received such maternal training is likely to lack values; ​​that prevent him from inserting himself adequately in society; and therefore achieve to live happily. These may be the most common causes; that produce in a person; the predisposition necessary to commit various crimes.

Mothers are active part in the education of their children; together with the educational system of the countries. Without the support of the Mothers; it is difficult for a child to perform well in the education he receives at school.

The work of these noble women is admirable. And they perform it with all the love in the world without receiving any type of salary. Not satisfied with this, they have also had to fight with so many anti-values ​​that have spread today. From the media to social networks. If not for these women, society would be worse than it is today.

In conclusion; we must emphasize that mothers carry out exceptional work. Because by looking at the statistics; we can determine that good citizens represent the majority; compared to a small group that commit crimes and criminality.

We will always lack words and gestures to thank for such a noble sacrifice; and excellent work; that they carry out all mothers around the world.

It is for this reason that there is nothing left to say

“Thank you very much to all the mothers; who educated us with love and tenderness. For you we are an innovative, good and hard-working society.”

“Happy International Mothers Day”.

By Elio Pinto.

Afghan Negotiations Appeals

A Multilateral Framework for Afghan Negotiations.

U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain,

Afghan Negotiations: Joint Statement of Extended Troika on Peaceful Settlement in Afghanistan.

On 30 April 2021, the representatives of what is called the Extended Troika – the U.S.A., Russia, China and Pakistan – presented in Doha, Qatar a “Joint Statement of Extended Troika on Peaceful Settlement in Afghanistan”.  The Joint Statement sets out a road map for what is hoped will be intra-Afghan negotiations to be carried out in Doha between representatives of the government led by President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban.

The road map stresses the vision of the creation of an Afghanistan that is: 

independent, sovereign, unified, peaceful, democratic, neutral and self-sufficient, free of terrorism and an illicit drug industry, a society which contributes to a safe environment for the voluntary, expeditious and sustainable return of Afghan refugees through a  well-resourced plan, providing stability and global security. We reaffirm that any peace agreement must include protection for the rights of all Afghans, including women, men, children, victims of war, minorities, and should respond to the strong desire of all Afghans for economic, social, and political development including the rule of law.”

The Joint Statement, mindful of the important role that the United Nations had played in leading to the Geneva Accord of February 1989 on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, called for an increase U.N. role in the current negotiations. 

We welcome an expanded role for the United Nations in contributing to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, including by leveraging its considerable experience and expertise in supporting other peace processes.”

The Brink of a Civil War.

The Extended Troika Joint Statement merits wide support as it creates a multilateral framework for negotiations.  It is certain that there are many difficulties in establishing the peaceful and just Afghan society that the Joint Statement envisages. As the Joint Statement was being written, on 14 April 2021, the Speaker of the Afghan Parliament, Mir Rahman Rahmani warned that the country was on “the brink of a civil war”.  At present, the intra-Afghan negotiations are deadlocked, and the representatives are not meeting, at least not in public.

It is planned that U.S. military forces will leave Afghanistan by 4 July 2021.  However, there are some 16,000 U.S. contractors in Afghanistan which provide a variety of services including military support.  Thus, the next month and a half is crucial.  We must see what continuing role foreign non-governmental organizations can play to strength Afghan civil society. The dangers of conflict among Afghan groups are real, but the Joint Statement sets out a vision which we can actively support.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Rabindranath Tagore Rapprochement of Cultures.

Rabindranath Tagore: The Call of the Universal Real.

Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.  It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and death, in ebb and in flow. I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.  And my pride from the life- throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

May 7 marks the  anniversary of the birth of the Bengal and world poet Rabindranath Tagore.  As he wrote:

I was born in 1861.  It was a great period in our history of Bengal. Just about that time the currents of three movements had met in the life of our country.” One current was religious – the Brahmo Samaj – founded by Raja Rammohan Roy (1774-1833) in which his family was active.  Brahmo Samaj’s humanistic aim was to reopen the channel of spiritual life which, for Tagore, had been obstructed for many years by the sands and the debris of creeds, caste and external practices…Each great movement of thought and endeavour  in any part of the world may have something unique in its expression, but the truth underlying any of them never has the meretricious cheapness of utter novelty about it. The great Ganges must not hesitate to declare its essential similarity to the Nile of Egypt or to the Yangtse-Kiang of China.”

An Innovative School “Santiniketan”.

The second current was literary.  It was an effort by Tagore and other poets and writers such as Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1838-1894) to awaken the Bengali language from its stereotyped style and limitations of language.  His was an effort to bring the ordinary speech of Bengal into poetic form.  He had had intimate contact with village life in Bengal early in his youth as his family had estates with many villages.  Later in 1922 he created a center for rural development and reform “Sriniketan” along side an innovative school “Santiniketan” started in 1901 where he hoped that  young and the old, the teacher and the student, would sit at the same table to take their daily food and the food of their eternal life.

Tagore was interested in all the religious currents in Bengal, devotional Hinduism and the popular and mystic currents of Islam as expressed by the Bauls whose poetry he transformed into songs.  He wrote over 2000 songs; every change of season, each aspect of Bengal landscape, every sorrow and joy found a place in his songs which became Bengali folk music.

The third current was national.  As Tagore wrote:

“The national was not fully political, but it began to give voice to the mind of the people, trying to assert their own personality.  It was a voice of indignation at the humiliation constantly heaped upon us by people.”  Tagore was the first to make popular the term “Mahatma” for Gandhi. “So disintegrated and demoralized were our people that many wondered if India could ever rise again by the genius of her own people, until there came on the scene a truly great soul, a great leader of men, in line with the tradition of the greatest sages of old  Mahatma Gandhi.  Today no one need despair of the future of the country, for the unconquerable spirit that creates has already been released.  Mahatma Gandhi has shown us a way which, if we follow, shall not only save ourselves but may also help other peoples to save themselves.”

The call of the universal  real.

Rabindranath Tagore was the Renaissance man of modern India – the bridge from an Indian culture dominated on the one hand by a traditionalism that had long ceased to be creative and on the other by English colonial practice whose reforms were self-interested. He was known world wide as a poet having received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, especially for his set of poems Gitanjali championed by William Butler Yeats.  Tagore’s aim was to combine a renewal of local thought, in particular that of his native Bengal with an appreciation of the cultures of the world.

As Tagore emphasized, the creative impulse was rooted in man’s desire to enhance the experiences of life.  Man shared with the Divine Spirit the possibility of shaping the material world as well as his own personality according to the implicit laws of being.  An artist responds to what Tagore named the call of the universal  real through reverence, understanding and delight.  An artist is aroused not by knowledge or emotion alone, but by the wholeness of his perceptions. The Real is that order which lies behind multiplicity. 

“To be able to love material things, to clothe them with tender grace, and yet not to be attached to them, this is a great service.The wonder is not that there should be obstacles and sufferings in this world, but that there should be law and order, beauty and joy, goodness and love”.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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