A New Approach

CAN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE BE JUSTIFIED WHEN WE ARE TRYING THE SAVE THE PLANET?

Simple answer – yes, providing it is of the Gandhi nonviolent variety. Read more

COULD WE USE PAPER STICKERS AS A NONVIOLENT TOOL FOR CHANGE?

Consider a small adhesive sticker, strategically placed, to be a small flyer on which we hope to pass on information, gain public support and change attitudes and practices. Read more

MUST WE INCLUDE ALL NATIONS IN ANY PLAN?

There are about 190 nations on the planet; pollution knows no boundaries or borders. There is little point in changing the practices of a single corporation or the laws in a single country while the other 189 continue corrupting and destroying the planets life support systems. We are all in this together so let’s address it as a single worldwide movement – read more

CAN WE COMPARE OUR MISSION TO THAT OF GANDHI?

In the 1930s India had multiple states and territories, multiple languages, multiple religions, multiple shades of skin colour, multiple castes and countless political ideologies. They also had one easily identifiable problem and desire that most of India’s people shared. “They wanted to be free to govern India and their own affairs regardless of the consequences.” Our problem has many of the same characteristics even if it is more complex. Read more

WHAT WOULD OUR MISSION STATEMENT BE? Ideas follow for consideration

  • CIVIS MUNDI – World citizens working for the world and it citizens (my favorite as it has the two single words which identify both problems – world and people – and the single solution – people from all 190 plus nations working as one)
  • A better world though worldwide cooperation
  • Empowering people to salvage the planet
  • To put forward solutions for environmental and social justice
  • Uniting the world to a single cause – a sustainable future
  • Supporting one another worldwide for a better future
  • To restore and protect the ecosystems on which all life depends
  • To develop and implement a 25 year plan to salvage a dying planet
  • Working together worldwide toward a better world

 

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF E-PETITIONING IN ANY LONG RANGE PLAN?

Avaaz and many other groups use e-petitions effectively. They general confine their efforts to HUMAN RIGHTS issues in single countries whereas Civis Mundi intends to embrace all 26 categories of issues and e-petition legislations in all nations on the planet simultaneously. Read more

WHAT WOULD A 25 YEAR PLAN LOOK LIKE?

As there are 26 categories of issues that need to be addressed they must all be given a turn at being heard. Therefore each and every category would select one issue to present to the Civis Mundi membership each and every year for the next 25 years. Read more.

WHY WE NEED TO BE VISIBLE

If all those individuals concerned for the welfare of the planet and concerned for social justice wore a ‘uniform’ it would be easy to see who was on our side in this global crisis we have made for ourselves. We could conceivably strike up a conversation and make friends most anywhere on the planet. Read more

HOW DO EXISTING NGOS, ACTIVIST GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS FIT INTO THE PICTURE?

NGOs, activist groups and individuals all have concerns for the survival of the planet and the welfare of others. We can share information and pool memberships without compromising any particular agenda. Everyone profits when we create a worldwide movement. Read more

CLOSING STATEMENT

Let future generations say that citizens coming together from 190 plus countries worldwide achieved what governments, politicians, scientists, corporations, religious leaders, NGOs and activist groups and the UN could not begin to do. They rediscovered that only through resistance could things change. Adrian Johnson is an article on civil disobedience says it best. “Most acts of civil disobedience are justifiable. I urge you to look at your own lives, at what rights and privileges you now have because others took it upon themselves to disobey.” (1)

References

1 http://www.mlive.com/opinion/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2009/03/is_civil_disobedience_justifia.html

WORLD CITIZENS UNITED

No one group or any individual has the solution to all of the environmental and social problems facing us and our planet, but here at http://civismundi.net there might be a spark of an idea as to how we might empower the people so that we (the meek, the weak, the underdogs, the ignored) have some say in our questionable future here on earth.

That’s it! It is all about empowering people on a worldwide basis. It’s about the development of one place where all social and environmental issues can be listed, categorized, prioritized and presented in a systematic and orderly manner for action in a long range plan. Imagine, people-powered action directed to all 190 nations, based on the wishes of the people away from the intrigue, influence and self-interests of politicians, oligarchs’, and corporations.

If this idea sparks your interest, I invite you to offer your input and advice.

Signed – Matthew Foster – civismundi (aatt) civismundi.net

Why we need to unite people (and NGOs) worldwide

CM boy girl

I would imagine that it was fairly easy to form the organization we call the United Nations. One national leader suggested the concept to another and the idea escalated until all 190 plus nations were together under one roof trying to find ways to keep some semblance of peace on the planet. This is all well and good but what happens when the planet’s seas, fresh water, atmosphere, soil, biodiversity etc. are so badly degraded and poisoned that all life is threatened and diminished? On top of this we have rapid breakdowns of human rights, diminishing democracies, the increasing concentration of media and information, population problems, nuclear concerns, genetically modified organism concerns, and a plague of plastic turning the oceans into a toxic soup. In this dire and ever-expanding situation the people desperately have formed literally millions of NGOs and countless activist groups in pretty much every community on earth as they try to persuade our elected political representatives to please do something.
While we frantically organize and chaotically struggle for corrective action, we are hassled, hampered and patronized by moneyed market forces which have a strong interaction and collaboration with politicians and political parties, not to mention despotic leaders in non-democratic countries. (Where they trample on human rights, steal resources, expropriate the people’s commons and ignore environmental laws and practices.)
We socially and environmentally minded individuals and groups are completely fragmented and disorganized beyond all belief; consequently and regrettably we have little hope of effectively impacting on any of the disasters facing us unless we somehow find a new innovative way to make a significant number of our diverse and scattered world’s citizens collectively more influential and forceful. We have the will but we have yet to find ‘the way’. It as if we are knocking on closed and locked doors trying to be heard all at the same time. We are ignored while our political representatives and corporate power are inside forging our destiny without any significant input from us.
This dire situation could be much improved if we could just get ourselves established into a powerful enough cooperative worldwide organization with a shared universal mission.
The first questions we need to ask ourselves are “must we do something and is it worthwhile” To this I think it is obvious. Is success attainable? I think that it really is, providing we put the power of united world citizens both before and behind corrective initiatives and bypass the naysayers.
NGOs would still operate their organisations independent of any new org. They could collaborate if they wish, and together sort the issues and put them in order. They would be free to independently offer advice to legislations when it became apparent that the people are demanding action and that their expertise is needed to implement such action.
If the United Nations was seen as the hope for peace then why do we not see the need for a similar group; possibly called United World Citizens or something similar; as a means to correcting pressing social and environmental issues?
Let’s assume for a moment that we could somehow bring all of the problems to one place. What would we need to do?
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEMS
Collect and write out all of the problems that need addressing so that the depth of the overall situation is clear to one and all. I can guarantee you that there are more active NGOs then there are problems, and that there are many problems that have no defenders or representatives whatsoever.
CATEGORIZE THE PROBLEMS
Next we need to put the problems (separate issues) into categories. I am going to suggest that there are be no more than 26 categories for reasons that will be apparent later although this is not absolutely essential.
PRIORITIZE THE PROBLEMS
Prioritize the issues within each category and put them into a 25 year plan. Don’t worry, as the priorities can be changed and rearranged as data comes in and membership grows.
CHOOSE THE FIRST ISSUES
It may be best to put something relatively simple at the top of the list rather than the most ominous issue/problem, remembering that it will take time for this new organization to gather significant worldwide member support. (I will put examples for a single category at the end just to show how this would work)
Simple mathematics will now show that we have 26 X 25 issues to put to the membership for their personal input and consideration – the total equals 650 separate issues spaced over 25 years. (A good start)
USE EXISTING INFORMATION
NGO’s and other groups have a lot of information in their data bases with which we can make informed decisions. These groups will be important to the new organization and movement as they can help with identifying and prioritizing and establishing the first and subsequent issues that will be put forward.
PUT THE CATEGORIES INTO A REPEATING ORDER
Take the 26 or so categories and put them into a sequence so that they can be presented to the membership for input and consideration one at a time. If we use 26 categories, and allow a two week period between publication and email distribution of a new petition to the membership, we can address an issue in each and every category in each year of the plan. (This is not absolutely essential)
ESTABLISH A SET TIME FRAME
It is important that the membership is not overwhelmed with action requests too frequently. A minimum of a 14 day interval is suggested as this allows time to research, ponder and sign. Also, governments receiving such petitions will not be overwhelmed on a daily basis from multiple sources.
PUT THE WORLD ON NOTICE
Remember that we must visualize the whole world and all the people as one community with all problems affecting all its citizens’ welfare. Once the categories and issues have been established, the whole world including business leaders and politicians everywhere on the planet, will effectively be put on notice that we are determined to press for remedial action now and in the foreseeable future, or until the job is done. Anyone, anywhere, will be able to see for themselves what is in the proverbial “pipeline” and slatted for corrective action.
SEND E-PETITION TO THE LEADERS OF EVERY NATION
Email the petition to every member for consideration and signing. If the member agrees with the suggested petition’s objectives then it is signed and the totals tabulated. After a designated time frame the signed e-petition is sent to every political legislative power in each and every country.
WHY CATEGORIES?
I personally have a great desire to see reductions in the unrestrained use of PLASTIC for reasons I will make clear below. Alternatively hormone-mimicking chemicals in products create a host of problems beyond the scope of this paper. I also have concern for FOOD safety. In the category of HUMAN RIGHTS I would like to see a worldwide ban on female genital mutilation. Therefore, I would enthusiastically subscribe to the categories of PLASTIC, TOXINS, FOOD and HUMAN RIGHTS. With these choices I would then be asked to participate and consider only 4 petitions per year. If I choose to support others in their causes, I could then simply change my settings to include or perhaps exclude categories at any time. Someone who hates the phony governments produced by plurality/majority voting might sign up for DEMOCRACY/VOTING as they push for proportional representative voting. The same person may dislike nuclear power plants and add NUCLEAR ISSUES to his or her list. Another might prefer WATER RESOURCES and LAND/SOIL LOSS DEGRADATION as they push for natural burial of the human body to prevent formaldehyde from leeching into ground water. Another might choose POPULATION CONCERNS as it gets little attention from anyone. Eventually all categories would have their champions.
SET CRITERIA FOR PETITIONS
Most groups that currently use e-petitions are reacting to human rights violations within single nations. Other petitions may be to protect a species like a butterfly (always the Monarch) or bees and other pollinators. (Category SPECIES) Our petitions however must meet more stringent criteria. I suggest that the following two questions be asked before an issue is put to the members.
Does this action benefit the welfare of the planet?
Does this action undo or prevent an injustice against all humankind?
DEVELOP MULTI LANGUAGE CAPABILITIES
As this is a global effort we need to have multi-language capabilities just like the UN. As the movement grows, volunteers would provide translation services.
AVOID POLITICAL AND MARKET FORCES
The UN is awash with political intrigue and corporate pressures. Powerful nations exert their will on the less powerful and use money, economic pressure and veto power to get their own way. Assassination is also now an accepted policy of many nations which includes all of the permanent Security Council. This new organization must avoid such outside influence and stick with the concept of one member, one vote. Every citizen on the planet can participate if they have access to social media.
STEAL GOOD IDEAS FROM OTHERS
AVAAZ and others use e-petitions quite effectively. They also have a good record for gathering members to the cause. They have an enviable 42,000,000 members at last count. Unlike AVAAZ we would cover all 26 categories and e-petition all 190 plus nations whereas they cover only a few categories and e-petition single legislations or corporations.
EXAMPLE OF HOW THIS MIGHT WORK
As an example of how this might work, let’s assume that in step one we decided that PLASTIC was a distinct and separate category that needed to be addressed. If you watched a recent documentary regarded the pollution of the oceans with plastic you might agree that this would be a suitable and essential category. The program suggested that the problem lies in the world’s recycling and waste management programs. This is a grave error in judgment as plastic and the manufacturing in plastic is the problem itself. It is a problem so harmful that it potentially threatens all that exists.
Can we eliminate all manufacturing in plastic? – Not realistically or likely! Can we eliminate manufacturing of drinking straws from plastic? Why not? Using straws made of waxed paper would not diminish my lifestyle at all, but it would be a small step for correcting earth’s ecosystem. So, we make it an issue for inclusion and our collective attention somewhere in the 25 year plan.
Using the above logic, after demanding “No manufacturing of plastic straws” we could combine several related issues and demand “No manufacturing of plastic net bags for citrus, onion and garlic.” Manufacturers and suppliers could revert back to twisted paper code bags. Sure, some manufacturers will cry foul and that is unfortunate. We survived the problems they created when they destroyed our shoe industry, our appliance industry, our textile industry, our ship building industry etc. They will adjust just as they forced us to adjust.
Next might come “No excess plastic may be used as fillers in packaging of food products.” My life style would not be diminished.
As we progress we might demand “No manufacturing of toys in plastic”. Kids would still have toys to play with, as manufacturers look to alternative material. Life would not be diminished what-so-ever.
Let’s try attempting something that might be more contentious. “No packaging of toothpaste in plastic tubes” I’m not sure that this could ever be accomplished but really, if my tooth paste came in powder form in a little tinned or cardboard container I’m sure I could cope. Also, billions of empty non-biodegradable tubes would be essentially removed from the ecosystem each and every year, forever and ever. (Imagine the number of albatross that might survive because there were billions fewer plastic caps to feed (and kill) their fledgling offspring)
Here are a few more to consider. (You are welcome to offer more.) “No plastic in razor manufacturing”, “No plastic coat hangers”, “No plastic stickers on fruit and vegetables”, “No plastic inserts in bottles”, “No plastic to be used in vegetable/olive oil containers” “No injection molded chairs” etc. Again my life style would not be diminished.
We eventually get to harder and harder issues. It we look to the problem with manmade fibers we will find a singularly horrendous problem. All clothing and carpets break down and shed fibers. Millions of tons of these fibers are washed into the oceans where they become part of the food chain that reaches ever upwards. This ocean of toxic soup is a crisis that can be reduced because we know what is causing it. We have about 35 natural plant and animal fibers that can be used as replacements to synthetics. We just need to accept the obvious and make some dramatic changes.
In this exercise, I have addressed only one category of problems and only a few issues within said category. NGOs, individuals and other groups could put together a much more comprehensive list.

In conclusion, the people themselves must become united and empowered if we are to make any headway. To do this we need an organization free from intrigue and political posturing; one where the meek, the weak, and the marginalized become willing to participate in the process and forge their own destiny, free from market and political influences.

PAPER STICKER CAMPAIGN

COULD WE USE PAPER STICKERS AS A NONVIOLENT TOOL FOR CHANGE?

Consider a small adhesive paper sticker, strategically placed, to be similar to a small flyer or handout which we might use, to pass on information, gain public support, change attitudes and practices. Read more –

One day I had this simple idea which made me speculate. If food producers could put plastic stickers on fruit and vegetables, and make the public responsible for removing them and recycling them, then why could the public not do the same thing? We could conceivably put paper stickers in conspicuous places asking the public to stop buying products (or cease other destructive practices) that are creating a hazard to the health of our planet, and to ourselves. E.g. Like the aforementioned plastic stickers that get washed into the planets water systems. This of course is just a simple example of what could be communicated with a worldwide sticker crusade. Other examples might include stickers as follows –

  • On a product shelf – This product contains plastic micro beads – do not buy
  • On a display counter – This product contains a hormone mimicker chemical – do not buy
  • On a store window – For a healthier planet do not buy plastic toys this year and stop buying battery operated toys.
  • On a display shelf – This packaged food product has excess sugar/salt/fat/nitrates/ etc..
  • On a flower shop window – do not buy imported flowers as the impact on the planet is profound.
  • Tell your favorite political party that you will never put up a plastic campaign lawn sign – put a sticker saying this on the sign painter’s window so that all customers will see it.
  • On a funeral home window one might place a sticker that says – please provide formaldehyde-free burial to protect ground water.
  • On a restaurant window one might place a sign that says stop cooling this place below 75 degrees to avoid wasting finite energy.
  • On a supermarket window – Do not shop here until they stop selling GMO produce
  • On your car window or bumper – support a worldwide ban on Female Genital Mutilation
  • On Leaf Blowers – Buy a rake and save fossil fuel for something important, like the future for instance.
  • On plastic bladed snow shovels – the plastic on this implement will wear away and become part of the oceans toxic soup.
  • On the window of a carpet store – If you must have carpet buy only natural fibers as synthetics shed into the environment and become part of a toxic food chain.
  • On your car bumper – support Proportional Representative electoral systems, where a political party cannot have greater representation than it deserves.
  • On a car – Next time please buy something with less horse power.
  • On your own car – I promise – My next car will be more environmentally friendly.
  • On a power boat – Buy a sail boat and stop corrupting our waters
  • On the counter next to the coffee maker – Refuse to drink coffee made from single disposable K cups.

If we assume that the planet is in trouble then we should see it as our responsibility to do something about it. This is certainly something anyone could do to expose the many problems we have to address.

It would not be difficult to print and distribute stickers pretty much anywhere on the planet. The language needed would match the area being considered. They are cheap and non-destructive providing the proper adhesive is used.

We can go the political route, the activist route, the NGO route, the letter to the editor route, the prayer route etc.; we can read everything on the internet and in the alternative press but little is going to change without a common collective action. Working both domestically and locally are fine but the movement for change (like India’s goal for independence) needs to be global and all inclusive.

I offer this idea for public debate and consideration. Your thoughts are important.

stickers-2stickers

 

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF E-PETITIONING IN ANY LONG RANGE PLAN?

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF E-PETITIONING IN ANY LONG RANGE PLAN?

Following the making of an extensive list of everything and putting them into categories a decision must be made as to which issue in each and every category will be put to the membership as a campaign. Once a consensus is made, the information and an e-petition would be distributed to all who have signed on as Civis Mundi. Whether individuals choose to participate in any campaign is their personal decision as no one should support anything they do not wholeheartedly believe in. Remember, to maintain some order and to minimize chaos that only one campaign per category will be addressed per year. Each and every one of the 26 categories would follow a predetermined rotation over the course of 12 months, and then the order would be repeated with new demands.

As an example, if we collectively agree that in the category of PLASTIC we will choose ‘the use of micro beads’ as the issue for worldwide attention. The relevant information and an invitation to sign an e-petition would be conveyed to members via email. The email might read “Tiny particles of plastic have been added to thousands of personal care products sold around the world. These microbeads, hardly visible to the naked eye, flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer system.”1. Please sign our petition demanding that this practice be eliminated, not only in your nation but worldwide.

The e-petition, after a given period of time, would be forwarded to each and every governing legislative in all 190 countries simultaneously.

This action meets the first two criteria that were noted earlier. It is certainly a righteous demand. It is certainly nonviolent as all we are asking through our e-petition is for all governments to do their collective duties and pass laws to immediately eliminate microbeads from each and every product produced and sold within their nation’s borders.

The third criterion specifies that we need to communicate the desire for support in our efforts. If actual fact, in our communications, we are not only recruiting members to the Civis Mundi movement we are asking NGOs to participate. NGOs have the information, knowledge and memberships to add to the effort. Civis Mundi would help to make their campaigns known to the world; they in turn would provide ideas and encourage their members to adopt the name Civis Mundi, to wear the ‘terra cotta uniform’ and to be part of the worldwide movement – everyone wins. Accepting the title of civis mundi or world citizen simple puts us all into one communication and action network. It takes nothing away from any individual or NGO

 

GANDHI

CAN WE COMPARE OUR MISSION TO THAT OF GANDHI?

I recently read that Gandhi was not a perfect person. He had his own prejudices against other races, and had other human failings – as do all of us. Pretty much all I know about him and his struggles is from the great movie starring Sir Ben Kingsley. From the movie “Gandhi” I came to understand that it was necessary to use friendly persuasion and non-destructive/nonviolent civil disobedience to achieve his goal of India’s independence from Great Britain. Great Britain with its Imperialistic and corporate interests would never simply give up economic profits and total control without a military led backlash. For his ideas to work, the Indian people needed to be seen as unreservedly united behind the cause. His strategies and ideas in his domestic crusade need to be the basis for our worldwide citizen driven movement.

Today we have the ultimate global crisis on our doorstep. We can approach it in the same way as Gandhi did. Forget the local politicians and political parties. Forget begging corporations to do the right thing as you are wasting you breathe. Forget great expectations from well-meaning and fragmented NGOs, with their own agendas, Forget religious leaders as they pursue their own selfish interests. Forget the UN with its political intrigue and national interests. We need to take the problem of survival directly to the meek and humble masses and ask them to come to the aid of the planet and its entire population without reference to national borders.

Gandhi defined the goal for the whole nation in simple-to-understand terms; just as we must define the goals needed to save our planet and to lighten the injustices against its people in all our 190 plus diverse and independent nations. The Indian people eventually saw his clearly defined goal for independence from foreign rule as being long overdue, necessary and just and they eventually joined the struggle.

He started his nonviolent civil disobedience plan with a simple act of defiance. This initial campaign was his ‘march to the sea’ to challenge the British law that gave the making and selling of salt in India to a British corporation. In a nation of perhaps 500,000,000 he had 78 individuals who initially joined him on his 241 mile march to the sea. As his message grew, the followers numbered in the thousands.

It is worth noting that he took the problem directly to the people as he knew instinctively that all other avenues would simply lead to failure. The Indian people were the ones who took direct action and would have to share and endure the physical and the verbal abuse of those in control. In addition, they accepted the scorn of fellow citizens who were truly afraid of the unknowns that independence might bring. They accepted the initial hardship and prospects of future hardship from their action – whatever the hardships might be; knowing full well that the cause of independence for India was worthy of their efforts and physical pain.

 

Civil Disobedience by any name

Civil Disobedience by any name

In the fight for social justice and the continuance of the planet, civil nonviolent resistance is indeed not only necessary and it is certainly justifiable. I would prefer to call it ‘civil nonviolent resistance’ or possibly ‘people engagement’ or even ‘friendly persuasion’ rather than civil disobedience but ‘what is in a name?’ We will be undoubtedly be called hooligans whatever label we choose to use. Whatever we call it, it will be immediately labeled as civil disobedience so let’s accept that from the start.

Societies would be in constant turmoil if we did not obey just laws. Equally important – one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws, (and unjust practices) just as many is history have said. We need to disapprove and to collectively rebel against the acceptance of long-established political, corporate, and common everyday practices that diminish and destroy any ray of hope for future generations.

Clive Hamilton is his book Requiem for a Species says “Reclaiming democracy for the citizenry is the only way to temper the effects of climate disruption and ensure that the wealthy and powerful cannot protect their own interests at the expense of the rest of us. To do so requires a new radicalism, a radicalism that refuses to be drawn into short-term electoral trade-offs and that aims to shift the ground of politics itself.”

He further says “When just laws are used to protect unjust behavior, our obligation to uphold the laws is diminished. In the usual course of affairs it is right to allow the normal democratic process, however slowly its wheels may turn, to change the laws to reflect the new reality. In 2008 the truth of this was acknowledged in the case of six Greenpeace protesters arrested for causing criminal damage to the Kingsnorth coal-fired power plant in Kent, scaling its smokestack and painting a slogan on it. Persuaded by the defense’s argument that the protesters had a lawful excuse – for in causing damage they were trying to prevent the greater harm being done by the power plant to the climate – the jury of ordinary citizens acquitted the six.”

“for in causing damage they were trying to prevent the greater harm being done by the power plant to the climate – the jury of ordinary citizens acquitted the six.”

Adrian Johnson in an article from 2009 (which I found on the net) suggested that civil disobedience must meet three specific criteria to be justifiable – Righteous intentions, nonviolent means and the desire to communicate the desire for change. I would add that participants in civil disobedience must also be prepared to accept the punishment and abuse imposed by the various authorities for their conduct.

“Thoreau, what are you doing in there?”

“Emerson, what are you doing out there?”

Henry David Thoreau saw that his taxes were being used to fund war and slavery and as a protest, he refused to pay his taxes. When Ralph Waldo Emerson expressed surprise at seeing his friend Thoreau in jail for his tax violation, Emerson asked, “Thoreau, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau replied, “Emerson, what are you doing out there?” Indeed – just as Thoreau implied; regardless of the consequences, we must unite and get on the correct side of a worldwide movement and get away from the status quo side.

Once a person makes the decision to engage in the philosophy of conscientious objection, the protester in fact demands that the penalty for such violations be imposed. Acceptance of penalties and abuse are in fact a fundamental part of the whole process.

Individuals must always expect to be verbally abused, beaten or jailed by those who resist change and the want the status quo. Resisters must be prepared to except this wrath or we collectively risk failure in our efforts. When one makes a decision to be engaged in acts of conscience then one must stand their ground and accept the consequences that will be imposed by law for their actions. Reacting with violence will only gain us all the unwanted label of militants, rabble–rouser, delinquents etc.

War! What war?

 

 

WAR! – WHAT WAR?

If I were to suggest that that the whole world was at war would you smile, tap you finger on your temple and roll your eyes? Well, I am going to try to explain why I see things that way; then I am going to ask you to put on a uniform and join me and fight back.

If there is a war, and we are in it, it begs the obvious question of who are the belligerents and what are the ultimate objectives?

As I see it, here are the two sides in our current conflict: On one side we have the plutocrats, oligarchs, multinational corporate leaders with their hopeful horde of yes-men and increasingly, religion’s theocrats.

On the other side, there are the six or seven billion poor, meek, frustrated, disheartened individuals from about 190 distinct and separate nations.

What are the belligerent’s objectives?

  • To create an occupation force in every nation possible so the whole world works for the financial gain of the aggressors; like the aggressor of occupied France during the last big war, they generously allow the leaders and populous a perceived freedom of being in control of their own affairs.
  • To systematically take over control of the governments of all countries so that the politicians and leaders are in fact de facto puppets who do the bidding of the belligerents, who in their ever-helpful manner will even write up all laws and trade agreements for them. (Trust us – we are the experts – we know what we are doing)
  • To control democracy itself so that it can never truly represent a cross-section of society, while doing their best to maintain the illusion that we are in control.
  • To disenfranchise anyone who might vote against the aggressors and the objectives.
  • To control and exploit the entire world’s natural resources for the benefit of the aggressors.
  • To manipulate and control manpower and wages and to cripple and destroy labour unions by any means possible.
  • To take total control of any “liberal” public media by withholding funding and appointing boards that support neo-conservative values so that news and information is indistinguishable from the corporate owned, controlled and edited media.
  • To join forces with fundamentalist religions so that the love of money and possessions becomes virtuous and part of the conservative/fundamentalist doctrine. (Eg. You do know that God wants you to be rich, don’t you?)
  • To exploit human frailty and anxiety over such ‘primeval’ issues as science, family planning, birth control, Darwinism, creationism, xenophobia, islamophobia, homophobia, communism, socialism, intellectuals, minorities, racism, abortion, euthanasia, women’s rights etc.
  • To undermine and stifle the efforts of the United Nations when it does not serve their global objectives and interests.
  • To keep the world on edge and fearful by finding a terrorist behind every rock and tree.
  • To create the highest wages and bonuses possible for themselves at the expense of shareholders’ and society’s interests.
  • To do everything possible to avoid paying taxes on their own wages, bonuses and other capital gains. (Contrary to the granting of a charter to operate a business – at the detriment of the infrastructure and social benefits to people)
  • To negotiate trade pacts that interfere with a government’s ability to control business and which give corporations the right of multinationals to sue governments (I.e. The people) for perceived lost earnings for any number of reasons.
  • To do everything possible to avoid environmental regulations, laws and responsibilities.
  • To spy on and to keep secret files on anyone who disapproves of their actions.
  • To keep societies constantly on edge by exposing threats to their views on ‘our way of life’.
  • To exploit patriotism and nationalism to their advantage.
  • To remove or stifle all progressive judges who might expose and undo their web of deceit.
  • To encourage family members and citizens to “rat” on those who try to expose them.
  • To play the tough-on-crime-bill-card and to fill jails to overflowing.
  • To advocate for small visible government, while building and financing a vast gang of lobbyists to influence fewer and fewer politicians.
  • To oppose any and all social programs that might make the lives of citizen’s better and more secure.
  • To dismantle any existing and established health care, elderly benefits/tariffs/labour laws/unemployment benefits/public, support of sports, arts, education, culture etc. whenever and wherever they can.
  • To sell off national institutions to private individuals and concerns whenever and wherever possible so that they can be neither recovered, nor rebuilt by a country.
  • There’s more but that will do for now.

If there is such an adversary that we acknowledge but do not readily see, then the same can be said for the opposition to this worldwide destructive adversary of both social and environmental concerns. Sure, I see them when I am at a demonstration or protest of some sort. I hear and read of them in the news and see them on TV carrying their placards and shouting their various chants and singing their songs of protest. Unfortunately however I never see them when I walk through town or sit with my coffee in the café every morning as I read my hard copy Guardian Weekly. We good guys and gals are just as invisible as those that corrupt the very air we breathe and ruin the water that sustains all life, from the humblest organism to homo-sapiens. I could write a list of the thousands of things they and we do; both consciously and unconsciously, but that is for later. As for making people visible I would like to change that situation once and for ever, now! – immediately! I would like to look at someone, whom I have never met, and know instantly that we are kindred spirits with regards to social and environmental issues. I would like to know that I am not alone in this city and world with my anxieties. But just how do we make a concerned person visible? – By giving them a ‘uniform’ of course.

Putting on a uniform like a soldier is not what I have in mind, so bear with me. Suppose that we all sewed something onto our clothing that was as immediately recognizable to others as a company logo. That something would have to be distinct and readily available to people in the poorest of nations. How about considering and using pottery clay? It is readily available and it is dirt cheap. It could be made into small everyday buttons and fired in a kiln into a more permanent form. They would then be distinctly little coloured “Terra Cotta” buttons. The name is perfect as it translates as “burnt earth”; which seems appropriate enough considering that our earth is burning up in the process of our activities; even if global warming is but one symptom of our diverse problems. For other individuals a terra cotta coloured neck tie; a right-hand shirt pocket of distinctive terracotta coloured cloth; a handkerchief for those a little shy; a terra cotta medallion to hang on a string around ones neck; the possibilities are extensive. – mugs, caps, socks, neckerchiefs, scarfs, toques etc. A very diverse uniform indeed! I love the contrasting terra cotta coloured shirt pocket idea, as who doesn’t need an extra pocket for comb or sunglasses? It could even be emblazoned with the words “CIVIS MUNDI SUM”. “I am a world citizen” tells it all.

So we now all have our subtle but distinct uniform; we can perhaps approach one another and gain an insight into their anxieties and get their suggestions for remedial action. (I cannot promise you will meet the girl or boy of your dreams simply because they were wearing a terra cotta ID, but who know? – You can approach them with something more original than “what’s your sign?” You might even say “Civis mundi sum?” “Are you a civis mundi?”

WHAT’S IN A NAME? A lot!

Next I would like to suggest a name for our far-flung gaggle of activists with their terra cotta ID proudly identifying them as having a sense of purpose, and a defined mission. Let’s consider this name idea as it relates to both people and planet or social and environmental. These two words (also in Latin) are CIVIS for person and MUNDI for world. Together we have CIVIS MUNDI © or world citizen. (A Hungarian would say Világ állampolgár perhaps) To be called a ‘citoyen du monde’ in French speaking nations is an honourable title which I would adopt in a Nano-second. Others would adopt 世界公民, वैश्विक निवासी, гражданин мира etc. in their own language, but universally we would be known as CIVIS MUNDI. As this name is in Latin, a decidedly dead language, it should not create a lot of friction or hostility. As I see it, the words CIVIS MUNDI can only indicate compassion for mankind and our planet earth, in its broadest sense.

GOING TO WAR

What persuades people to go into combat? My father left my mother and two children the day the Second World War broke out; just as his father had done at the start of WW1. My grandfather never made it out of France and my dad was injured in training so he never served overseas; much to his lifelong disappointment. Following tradition, I joined the Air Force at 17. Why do we do this sort of thing? Not that I had any great hardship during my service but those in the two world wars and Korea suffered for their countries. They slept in the mud; ate rotten food; suffered dysentery; watched their buddies die. We do not have to die in our conflict, but we do have to commit to do something so that others will not suffer from our inaction. So how do we get people to become united in a worldwide movement for justice and plain common sense in this generation’s ultimate and horrific crisis? How can we instil a sense of comradery, adventure, excitement and purpose in this generation? Actually joining together to do something significant might be a place to start.

Joining the CIVIS MUNDI © movement (if that is the name chosen) is really important as it shows a personal commitment. Putting ones name on the dotted line and seeing it added to an expanding list of like-minded people would visually show that something tangible is finally happening. One could see their comrades-in-arms listed, one following the other, from 190 nations – a truly international movement; all colours, all languages, all sexual orientations, all religions, and all nationalities; with one strong voice. In this scenario, people could actually be given a ‘regimental number’ from the order that they signed on. How unique and personal is that?

WHAT WEAPONS WILL WE USE?

First we have to use our brains to defeat this adversary; because there are no gung-ho generals to force you out of your foxhole into battles of their choosing. You will make the decisions of what battles you want to fight or not fight. Your weapons will be your brain, your computer, your participation and your signature. Let me elaborate:

HOW WOULD THIS ALL WORK? Here is the simplified version.

IDENTIFY THE PROBLEMS

Collect and write out all of the problems that need addressing so that the depth of the overall situation is clear to one and all. I can guarantee you that there are more active NGOs then there are problems, and that there are many problems that have no defenders or representatives whatsoever.

CATEGORIZE THE PROBLEMS

Next we need to put the problems (separate issues) into categories. I am going to suggest that there are be no more than 26 categories for reasons that will be apparent later although this is not absolutely essential.

PRIORITIZE THE PROBLEMS

Prioritize the issues within each category and put them into a 25 year plan. Don’t worry, as the priorities can be changed and rearranged as data comes in and membership grows.

CHOOSE THE FIRST ISSUES

It may be best to put something relatively simple at the top of the list rather than the most ominous issue/problem, remembering that it will take time for this new organization to gather significant worldwide member support. (I will put examples for a single category at the end just to show how this would work)

Simple mathematics will now show that we have 26 X 25 issues to put to the membership for their personal input and consideration; the total equals 650 separate issues spaced over 25 years. (A good start)

USE EXISTING INFORMATION

NGO’s and other groups have a lot of information in their data bases with which we can make informed decisions. These groups will be important to the new organization and movement as they can help with identifying and prioritizing and establishing the first and subsequent issues that will be put forward.

PUT THE CATEGORIES INTO A REPEATING ORDER

Take the 26 or so categories and put them into a sequence so that they can be presented to the membership for input and consideration one at a time. If we use 26 categories, and allow a two week period between publication and email distribution of a new petition to the membership, we can address an issue in each and every category in each year of the plan; This is not absolutely essential.

ESTABLISH A SET TIME FRAME

It is important that the membership is not overwhelmed with action requests too frequently. A minimum of a 14 day interval is suggested as this allows time to research, ponder and sign. Also, governments receiving such petitions will not be overcome on a daily basis from multiple sources.

PUT THE WORLD ON NOTICE

Remember that we must visualize the whole world and all the people as one community with all problems affecting all its citizens’ welfare. Once the categories and issues have been established, the whole world including business leaders and politicians everywhere on the planet, will effectively be put on notice that we (Civis Mundi) are determined to press for remedial action now and in the foreseeable future, or until the job is done. Anyone, anywhere, will be able to see for themselves what is in the proverbial “pipeline” and slatted for corrective action.

SEND E-PETITION TO THE LEADERS OF EVERY NATION

Email the petition to every member for consideration and signing. If the member agrees with the suggested petition’s objectives then it is signed and the totals tabulated. After a designated time frame the signed e-petition is sent to every political legislative power in each and every country.

WHY CATEGORIES?

I personally have a great desire to see reductions in the unrestrained use of PLASTIC for reasons I will make clear below. Alternatively hormone-mimicking chemicals in products create a host of problems beyond the scope of this paper. I also have concern for FOOD safety. In the category of HUMAN RIGHTS I would like to see a worldwide ban on female genital mutilation. Therefore, I would enthusiastically subscribe to the categories of PLASTIC, TOXINS, FOOD and HUMAN RIGHTS. With these choices I would then be asked to participate and consider only 4 petitions per year. If I choose to support others in their causes, I could then simply change my settings to include or perhaps exclude categories at any time. Someone who hates the phony governments produced by plurality/majority voting might sign up for DEMOCRACY/VOTING as they push for proportional representative voting. The same person may dislike nuclear power plants and add NUCLEAR ISSUES to his or her list. Another might prefer WATER RESOURCES and LAND/SOIL LOSS DEGRADATION as they push for natural burial of the human body to prevent formaldehyde from leeching into ground water. Another might choose POPULATION CONCERNS as it gets little attention from anyone. Eventually all categories would have their champions.

SET CRITERIA FOR PETITIONS

Most groups that currently use e-petitions are reacting to human rights violations within single nations. Other petitions may be to protect a species like a butterfly (always the Monarch) or bees and other pollinators. (Category SPECIES) Our petitions however must meet more stringent criteria. I suggest that the following two questions be asked before an issue is put to the members.

Does this action benefit the welfare of the planet?

Does this action undo or prevent an injustice against all humankind?

DEVELOP MULTI LANGUAGE CAPABILITIES

As this is a global effort we need to have multi-language capabilities just like the UN. As the movement grows, volunteers would provide translation services.

AVOID POLITICAL AND MARKET FORCES

The UN is awash with political intrigue and corporate pressures. Powerful nations exert their will on the less powerful and use money, economic pressure and veto power to get their own way. Assassination is also now an accepted policy of many nations which includes all of the permanent Security Council. This new organization must avoid such outside influence and stick with the concept of one member, one vote. Every citizen on the planet can participate if they have access to social media.

STEAL GOOD IDEAS FROM OTHERS

AVAAZ and others use e-petitions quite effectively. They also have a good record for gathering members to the cause. They have an enviable 42,000,000 members at last count. Unlike AVAAZ we would cover all 26 categories and e-petition all 190 plus nations whereas they cover only a few categories and e-petition single legislations or corporations.

EXAMPLE OF HOW THIS MIGHT WORK

As an example of how this might work, let’s assume that in step one we decided that PLASTIC was a distinct and separate category that needed to be addressed. If you watched a recent documentary regarded the pollution of the oceans with plastic you might agree that this would be a suitable and essential category. The program suggested that the problem lies in the world’s recycling and waste management programs. This is a grave error in judgment as plastic and the manufacturing in plastic is the problem itself. It is a problem so harmful that it potentially threatens all that exists and those who perpetuate and profit get off scot-free.

Can we eliminate all manufacturing in plastic? – Not realistically or likely! Can we eliminate manufacturing of drinking straws from plastic? Why not? Using straws made of waxed paper would not diminish my lifestyle at all, but it would be a small step for correcting earth’s ecosystem. So, we make it an issue for inclusion and our collective attention somewhere in the 25 year plan.

Using the above logic, after demanding “No manufacturing of plastic straws” we could combine several related issues and demand “No manufacturing of plastic net bags for citrus, onion and garlic.” Manufacturers and suppliers could revert back to twisted paper code bags. Sure, some manufacturers will cry foul and that is unfortunate. We survived the problems they created when they destroyed our shoe industry, our appliance industry, our textile industry, our ship building industry etc. They will adjust just as they forced us to adjust.

Next might come “No excess plastic may be used as fillers in packaging of food products.” My life style would not be diminished.

As we progress we might demand “No manufacturing of toys in plastic”. Kids would still have toys to play with, as manufacturers look to alternative material. Life would not be diminished what-so-ever.

Let’s try attempting something that might be more contentious. “No packaging of toothpaste in plastic tubes” I’m not sure that this could ever be accomplished but really, if my tooth paste came in powder form in a little tinned or cardboard container I’m sure I could cope. Also, billions of empty non-biodegradable tubes would be essentially removed from the ecosystem each and every year, forever and ever. (Imagine the number of albatross that might survive because there were billions fewer plastic caps to feed (and kill) their fledgling offspring)

Here are a few more to consider. (You are welcome to offer more.) “No plastic in razor manufacturing”, “No plastic coat hangers”, “No plastic stickers on fruit and vegetables”, “No plastic inserts in bottles”, “No plastic to be used in vegetable/olive oil containers” “No injection molded chairs” etc. Again my life style would not be diminished.

We eventually get to harder and harder issues. It we look to the problem with manmade fibers we will find a singularly horrendous problem. All clothing and carpets break down and shed fibers. Millions of tons of these fibers are washed into the oceans where they become part of the food chain that reaches ever upwards. This ocean of toxic soup is a crisis that can be reduced because we know what is causing it. We have about 35 natural plant and animal fibers that can be used as replacements to synthetics. We just need to accept the obvious and make some dramatic changes.

In this exercise, I have addressed only one category of problems and only a few issues within said category. NGOs, individuals and other groups could put together a much more comprehensive list.

IN CONCLUSION

No problem was ever successfully resolved without an analysis of the problem and an overall plan. In our case we have enough information to categorize and make a list of what needs to be done. Then we need the determination to “tackle that at thing that everyone says cannot be done and just do it.” OK civis, where do we sign up for duty?

Before I waste time on this I would like to ask a question:  if I had a registry where you could sign up as a world citizen, who you sign up?

VISIBILITY

VISIBILITY

Although I have some rather grand and complex ideas on how we might approach our worldwide social and environmental crisis, it all kind of hinges on getting people more involved. To do that I think it would be a good idea if we all decided to become more visible to one another. Just as a Christian proudly displays a cross or fish symbol we need to display something that tells the bystander that we have anxieties; “hey! I am concerned for the welfare of mankind and of the planet.” Of course we all have different concerns and pet issues that we want resolved but they are all part of the same worldwide dilemma so why should we not use the same symbol of identification and show mutual support.

If we are looking for a symbol, I would suggest the color of fired terra-cotta pottery. . The name is perfect as it translates as “burnt earth”; which seems appropriate enough, considering that our earth is burning up in the process of our activities; even if global warming is but one symptom of our diverse problems. A simple medallion or a patch of cloth would suffice. It could also be a neckerchief, scarf, or necktie – even a handkerchief. The options are extensive – mugs, socks, toques etc. A very diverse uniform indeed! I love the idea of a contrasting terra cotta colored shirt pocket for men, as who doesn’t need an extra pocket for comb or sunglasses? I have actually done this on one dark grey shirt. The contrasting but complementary terracotta pocket looks great, but of course no one has any idea as to its intent yet.

If we should decide to adopt this terracotta colored symbol to show our solidary and worldwide comradery, we would now all have our subtle but distinct ‘uniform’; we can perhaps approach one another and gain an insight into our shared anxieties and get suggestions for remedial action. I cannot promise you will meet the girl or boy of your dreams simply because they were wearing a terra cotta ID, but who know? It is a better approach than the old line “Hey what’s your sign?”

I have about 20 kilos of clay in the basement and access to some terra cotta colored cloth. Does anyone know how to turn it into something we can use?

Have a look at http://civismundi.net for a better idea of how this might all work.

Cheers

MRF – civis mundi sum

A book endorsement

I have never written a book endorsement before but after reading this book (Rocky Mountain Locust – opus I – Trio & (continuing story) Opus II – Quartet) I decided to do so . The books can be purchased in hard, soft and ebook formats from FriesenPress Bookstore: http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore Look for it under title (Rocky Mountain Locust) or author, M.I. Lastman.

Rocky Mountain Locust – opus I – Trio & (continuing story) Opus II – Quartet

In his retirement years, septuagenarian Jim Easom finds himself swept into the greatest adventure of his life. As he recovers from a nasty virus he finds himself alone with neighbors and family all dead or missing. As he regains his strength, he finds that the world, without humans to maintain the infrastructure, is rapidly becoming a changed, contaminated and dangerous place.

He sets out from Ontario to make a rendezvous with a faint voice he has heard on a shortwave radio. In his journey through the now borderless continent he encounters many diverse challenges. Eventually in his long travel he meets up with a small cast of engaging and charming characters As they travel and survive in this strange new world Jim has to be creative to overcome the many obstacles they face. Jim marks their trail so that any other survivors who chance upon his route will know his destination.

The author has widely researched the topic of potential pandemics and of a strange world without people. The reader will enjoy the grand adventure of Jim Easom and his engaging followers in this great two-part novel of survival. Author, M. I. Lastman gave life to the characters and I felt as if I knew them all personally.

Matthew R. Foster

Input Request

No one group or any individual has the solution to all of the environmental and social problems facing us and our planet, but here at http://civismundi.net there might be a spark of an idea as to how we might empower the people so that we (the meek, the weak, the underdogs, the ignored) have some say in our questionable future here on earth.

That’s it! It is all about empowering people on a worldwide basis. It’s about the development of one place where all social and environmental issues can be listed, categorized, prioritized and presented in a systematic and orderly manner for action in a long range plan. Imagine, people-powered action directed to all 190 nations, based on the wishes of the people away from the intrigue, influence and self-interests of politicians, oligarchs’, and corporations.

If this idea sparks your interest, I invite you to offer your input and advice.

Sincerely,

Matthew R. Foster civismundi (aatt) civismundi dot net