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.

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 contracting 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

 

Listen to the Visitor

A week or two back there was an article in the Guardian Weekly to which I responded with a letter to the editor. You can read the article here

This was my letter.

Listen to the visitor

Regarding your 20 November story Crowdfunding plan to tackle ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’: we need to look at our world as a visitor might.

A visitor to our planet might see the plastic crisis we have created and ask, “What are you going to do about the plastic that is endangering life in your oceans?” We might respond, “Well, we are thinking of trapping it and then recycling it back into more consumer products.”

Our puzzled visitor shakes his head and asks, “Have you considered banning it completely where there are alternative materials?” To this we might respond, “Just how you would propose we do that?”

The visitor continues: “Considering that it is the people of the entire planet who will bear the consequences of inaction, my advice is to ask the people from all your 190-plus nations to formulate the plan. Together, list everything made of plastic, and have the people decide just what they can live without. Start simply while you gain public support and then tackle whole groups of things such as toys, building materials and packaging. Be determined and ignore those with a monetary interest in the status quo.”

To which we might reply, “Seriously, what should we really do?”
Matthew R Foster
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

Taliban/Cancervative Ideology

 

There was an article in the paper today about the Taliban. As I read it I came to the conclusion that their radical ideology is pretty much the same as that of our Conservative Party – or as I call the “Cancer”vative Party for obvious reasons. (It seeks to destroy every structure of our society even if it dies itself in the process)

The Taliban is anti-Christian and anti-Jewish but the Big Cs are increasingly Islamophobia and more than willing to advertise the fact. One should remember that atrocities in Germany started by the promoting of hatred for the way some German citizens dressed in public places.

So what else is comparable? In point form I offer the following; with a few at the end that are exclusively Big C ideology:

Objective of gaining and retaining power at all costs

Anti-science

Anti-Darwin

Pro-religious dogma

Anti-women rights

Anti-environment

Blatant Homophobia

Anti-family planning

Anti-peacekeeping

Pro-disenfranchising voters

Anti-labour

Anti-union

Anti-public broadcasting

Divisive politics

Space Exploration

Space Exploration

Recently I heard a comedian on TV say; “I cannot imagine any situation where meeting aliens from space would turn out well.” Neither can I. And apparently Dr. Steven Hawkins is like-minded.

Although the exploration of our solar system is really exciting, inspirational and educational, I think that we really do need to consider what we are doing within and beyond our solar system, before we do something that cannot be undone.

We have been exposed to countless novels and movies where we have met alien life forms. In these fantasy encounters, we meet species as though they we meeting “one on one”. The reality is however that we as humans contain millions of bacteria, virus, fungi, and even little mites living in our eyelashes. We are literally a walking and breathing ecosystem. At least 500 species of bacteria, weighing about 3.3 pounds, live inside our gut. Our skin supports about 1 trillion bacteria of various varieties. In total, most of the time we share our bodies harmoniously with about 90 trillion or so microbes.

If we ever eventually meet a space visitor, we can assume that he/she/it will come with an equal number of worrisome and uncategorized organisms living on its body. Undoubtedly a lot of these alien organisms would see humans as a source of substance or a place to feed their offspring. This begs the question, “How could we ever expect to adapt overnight to a host of threats to which our body has no evolved defenses?” In addition, how could any extraterrestrial-being hope to adapt to the threat we ourselves would present?

Our Native Americans did not cope well with the exposure to just a few diseases that the Europeans brought with them to their world – not to mention our brutal and cruel behaviour toward them. I think (in the case of meeting extraterrestrial aliens) that life of all humanity, and of the aliens alike, would be in grave peril.

In ‘The War of the Worlds’, by English author H. G. Wells, the Martian invaders wreak mayhem and havoc but eventually die off because of an Earthly bacterial infection to which they had no defence. (maybe measles) Wells might have just as easily have written that Earth inhabitants died off from some Martian bacteria which the Martian invaders brought with them.

This week (as I write this) NASA showed us Pluto. As expected it was round with some lumpy bits here and there, and with some flat bits here and there. As I watched in fascination, I could not help but wonder how many bacterium and viral passengers were aboard our little space craft as it passed Pluto and headed off into outer space – perhaps to ‘seed’ another planet or possible infect another planet with its microscopic passengers from Earth. Seriously, I was one of the curious people waiting for the photos of Pluto to arrive, but at the same time, I’m just not sure we should be taking the risk of endangering any potential life forms that may or may not exist ‘out there’.

Some statistics from: http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/your-body-is-a-planet

A very English revolt

A very English revolt

The Guardian Weekly had an interesting article on June 6th. The title, “a very English revolt” with a lead in, “The people of Frome in Somerset call it ‘flatpack democracy’ and it has seen party politics cast aside in search for local solutions. See Guardian article here (26 June)

The basic aim seems both simple and benign: (says author John Harris) “Taking political power at a local level, then using it to enable people to have a greater say in the decisions that effect their lives” He further writes – But the results have been explosive: the routing of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives from Fome’s town council, and the arrival in power of a coalition of self-styled independents, united by belief that democracy needs a dramatic revival.

This movement to take charge was initiated when it was evident that the town council could not come to terms with environmental issues in any meaningful way. Like-minded residents came together and decided to use the democratic process to take total charge. They ran candidates in all ridings and these “independents” took all 17 seats on Frome’s council. Interestingly, several other towns have had similar movements to take over their local city councils.

When I read this article, I immediately felt that this grass roots idea was what we need to address the thousands of social and environmental issues that threaten our very survival on this planet. I was somewhat surprised when my letter was printed as I suggested a worldwide movement. I will paste it here just as it appeared:

The solution to everything

Within the article A very English revolt (26 June) is shown the key to addressing all (Yes! All!) of the thousands of social and environmental issues on the planet.

For years, I have been advocating that we need a worldwide movement to counter the power that business interests have over people and planet interests. The “Frome movement” suggests that to this, we need to add a political party element.

There are many voices that advocate change through revolution or civil disobedience to promote change. In Frome, these ordinary citizens have shown that what we need is people participation with the goal of making democracy work for both the people and planet.

How about we form a global support and advisory movement with a name like Civis Mundi? “World Citizen”(envision this in all language equivalents) is something we can universally rally under. And how about a political movement called Terra Cotta; as “burnt earth” seems to convey the message and urgency for some people-backed changes.

Just one suggestion: No prayer before meetings.
Matthew R Foster
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

If anyone wants to discuss or debate this idea, my email is on the site under Bio and Contact info, and my phone number is on 411 Canada

 

 

Earth Triage

Earth Triage

If there was an organization which sent you and its members a petition with worldwide significance, would you review it and add your support to the effort if you were in agreement with the objective?

If this organization sent you a new issue/petition, at the same time each year, would that be too often?

If you received the following (sample) petition which would be not only forwarded to all Canadian members of Parliament and Senate, but would be sent to each and every legislative assembly on the planet, would you consider signing it?

Sample one.

Category – Human rights – Issue – Female Genital Mutilation of young girls – Petition wording – We the undersigned believe that Genital Mutilation of girls is a crime against humanity and must be made illegal in all 196 nations –

Signed  _____________ (FGM is happening here in North America/Europe/as well as the Middle East and Africa)

This first sample is from the Category designated as Human Rights. It is obviously a social issue whereas some categories would be classed as environmental issues. (In this proposed concept)

The proposed concept would allow for 26 categories of issues. Human Rights would have equal weight to all other categories in this plan. If it was assigned to have its issue/petition placed in the first week of January 2016, then it would present its second issue/petition to its worldwide membership in the first week of January 2017, and so on for the next 25 years of the suggested plan. If human rights were the only concern a member had, then he/she would only need to review one petition per year.

Sample two.

Category – Plastic – Issue – Plastic used as fillers in food packaging – Petition wording – Plastic is itself a great waste of a natural finite oil resource; to use it as a means of deceiving the public should be made universally illegal, as it is deliberately dishonest and unjust. We the undersigned demand that our elected/appointed/governing representatives stop the use of plastic fillers in food packaging.

Notes – It should not be made illegal in Canada alone. It should be made illegal everywhere on the planet. The first and all subsequently proposed petitions would impact on issues of global concern.

In this particular category we might just as easily have considered many things. We might consider the decimation of albatross fledglings that perish in agony when the parent feeds them a diet of bottle caps, throwaway lighters and other plastic waste. We might consider the lost plastic fish nets, and lines, that drift the seas and kill forever by entangling great whales, turtles, and other marine life. We might consider the canning of food in plastic lined cans that leach chemicals into food or the issues of plastic toys or signage. There are lots of choices in this oft overlooked tragic and devastating category.

In normal triage procedures one would select the most severe problem first. We cannot do that unfortunately. Choosing the first issue in each category must be done carefully, remembering that membership will be low at this initial stage. This packaging issue should be easy to defend in the public arena where we need to show that a new movement has been started, while we hint at our objectives. This issue is one that should cause the least threat of the inevitable corporate criticism and backlash. There will always be critics and short sighted naysayers.

Plastic is just one of the 26 categories suggested. Like the previous category of Human Rights, it would be assigned a place on the calendar with equal weight to Human Rights. Those who champion this category, like me, might understandably like it to have more weight, but this cannot be the case.

Sample 3.

Category – Water Resources – Issue – Ground water contamination – Petition wording – We the undersigned believe that there is no need for embalming of human corpses in a ritualistic interment process, as the carcinogenic chemical eventually seeps into, and contaminates, groundwater.

Signed  _________________

Notes – The wording in these samples is intended to give a quick snapshot of the petition. Obviously in the final product, there would be supporting information and the member would have ample time to read up on the subject and make an informed decision.

Obviously not all worldwide members will speak English, so the site would have multi language capabilities just like the UN site. Each proposal would be translated by accredited volunteers from satellite sites around the planet.

So far we have seen three samples of issue/petitions that might land in your email box. Anyone could subscribe to participate in one or more categories of issues. If we are real concerned and energetic we might evaluate and participate in all 26. They would arrive as email each 14 days. They could remain open for signatures indefinitely and only are forwarded when sufficient people have had their opportunity to participate.

Here are the proposed categories that might be used. There are actually 23 listed here with a place for three more.

  1. Air quality
  2. Democracy/Voting
  3. Drugs
  4. Energy
  5. Farming/Forestry
  6. Fishing/Whaling
  7. Food
  8. Genetic engineering
  9. Health
  10. Human Rights
  11. Information & Education
  12. Land/Soil Degradation
  13. Mining
  14. Nuclear Issues
  15. People’s Commons/natural resources
  16. Plastic Dangers
  17. Population
  18. Species (or biodiversity)
  19. Toxins
  20. Trade and Labor
  21. Transportation
  22. Waste/Recycle
  23. Water Resources

 

I’m sure that many readers here will note that this concept has hitch hiked on the concept and model used by Avaaz. Unlike Avaaz, and a number of similar organizations, this new organization would focus on issues that affect worldwide social issues and the planet’s ecosystems. It would not be dedicated to resolving injustices in single countries by individuals, groups of individuals or corporations. It would be methodical and hopefully not reactionary. Issues would be chosen after careful selection, deliberation and by consensus of members. Priorities could and would be changed by consensus as circumstances dictate. Remember that a full twelve months is available between issue/petitions in a category.

I am an enthusiastic member of Avaaz and a couple of other such groups. I marvel at their ability to attract new members. (41,000,000 at last count) I attribute this to the fact that we can sit at our computers, and evaluate an injustice that is taking place in real time anywhere on the world. We, as truly global citizens, can then add our voice to the hundreds of thousands of likeminded people and know that our petition will be speedily sent to the legislative body that can take appropriate action. Like Avaaz, millions of participating members from every nation, and speaking with a single unified voice, should be our ultimate objective, if this is to succeed.

There is indeed no shortage of individual organizations independently working to resolve social and environmental issues. This fragmentation is indeed a major problem as we all try to be heard all at once, on all issues. They all have their own agendas, their own memberships and their own methods of raising money. Just imagine for a moment that all of the issues represented by all of these groups could be combined into one. While still leaving all existing groups to continue their independent agendas, we would call on the expertise and dedication of such groups for categorizing, prioritizing and participation in the new process. Indeed NGOs and groups of NGOs and activist groups could form the nucleus to spearhead specific categories of issues.

Categorizing, and reaching a consensus in establishing a priority list could be the job of members and the existing NGOs. NGOs have a wealth of information, in thousands of data bases, which can be used as a resource, along with their staff expertise and enthusiasm.

I could conceivably write multiple papers of just why our leaders, our politicians, our political parties, our corporations, the UN, our NGOs, our activist groups, our climate change conferences, our scientists, our media outlets etc. all fail to make much difference in altering the course of government action, particularly when it comes to environmental and social change. We need to accept that we need a different approach. Noam Chomsky said that “all change comes from the bottom up” while we seem to think we will get results by doing the same things that have proven to be ineffective over and over and over again. We are destined to stay on the bottom and be trodden upon if we do not stand up and make our unified voices heard. Avaaz has shown us how to get people engaged; we need to follow their lead.

In closing, I believe that all members is a new organization should be encouraged to support at least one other NGO or activist group. I like to look at it as hiring someone to do a job, for which I have neither the time nor talent.

To contribute ideas to this proposal, please visit civismundi.net. Perhaps we can find a way to turn this basic idea into an adventure.