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Consider a map of the world circa 2000. Most of the national borders in the vast stretches affected by former Western colonialism are false, artificially constructed by Westerners with little understanding or appreciation of the underlying cultures.
This alone has been the source of much warfare, violence, and starvation in the world. It continues to underlie big problems which daily result in untold human suffering.
I submit that we Americans, as Westerners who still uphold this unholy and artificial world built to suit our economic and cultural purposes, must accept responsibility and blame for those resulting problems and that untold, continuing, immense human suffering.
Those of us in the West are accustomed to thinking of the twentieth century as one of progress, and the late twentieth century, the nineties, as an especially blessed time. And so it is, materially speaking, for most Americans. And the material progress and comforts created by modern capitalism are good things and very important; but they do not tell the whole story.
Come with me on a tour of the world in mid 1998 and consider its status from the point of view of the reality of all of the many sublimely conscious human souls inhabiting earth on August 2, 1998.
Most children go to bed hungry on this precious planet earth tonight. The poorest countries tend to have the most children, and there are still many desperately poor countries in Africa, southeastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Latin America. Even in the United States of America, a disproportionately large number of children live in poverty in the vast inner cities, out of sight and out of mind.
Wars rage in Africa as cultural and religious groups, thrown together haphazardly by Western colonialists into senseless national borders fight amongst themselves in an endless circle of violence. The Middle East and Central Asia contain hundreds of millions of Islamic peoples trying to find a way to preserve the dignity of their valid spiritual heritage in an alien modern world which recognizes only money and materialism as real.
In Russia and many of the former Soviet lands, total collapse is just around the corner. Human suffering increases in the midst of incalculable individual wealth for the few who have capitalized on the triumph of Western Capitalism in the former Soviet Union. To the victors go the spoils; to the rest, misery.
In East and Southeast Asia, whole countries have tried the American way of unbridled capitalism with spectacular success. Millions reached into the promised realms of Middle Class Life. But now the "Asian Financial Crisis" has cruelly opened a trap door through which millions have fallen back into sudden and severe poverty, with no way out and no hope. Many business men commit suicide.
To repair the problem, the USA and the IMF force strong medicine down the throats of helpless allies; extraordinarily high interest rates, tight fiscal policies, bank and corporate closures and bankruptcies, and currency devaluations. The only possible result of this medicine is Deep Economic Depression, with good news only for the Western bankers who receive a free bailout so that they will not suffer the unthinkable; loss of some money and subsequent share price reductions in their stocks on Wall Street.
Who pays the price for the huge Stock market gains in America? When American corporations use virtual slave labor to produce shoes and metals in Indonesia under a corrupt Suharto regime which kills citizens without trial or warning for dissent or complaints about working conditions, who pays? Is this what the Western World is all about?
Economically, the world is now one place. But we still act out the fiction that it is made up of many countries and regions which can be exploited by the few for the benefit of the rich. I guarantee you that this can not and will not last.
Henry Ford made the wise decision long ago to pay his workers enough so that they could afford to buy the automobiles they produced. We are now using under-payed labor in factories around the world which do not meet the most basic minimums for working conditions established long ago in the USA and Europe. These factory goods are consumed in the West but can often not be afforded by the millions of factory workers who build them. This can not and should not last. There will be a crisis of demand in the world economy, with vast over-capacity for producing goods with not enough people who can afford to buy them. This is the result of greed, greed by global corporations and greed by Western consumers.
The only cure for all of these ills is to visualize a world without borders. The earth is truly one whole, made up of varying regions to be sure, but one whole system in its functioning. The coming world economic and political crisis will not be solved until we recognize this and begin to treat the global system as the complex integral whole that it is.
This leads to many consequences. Labor conditions must be improved around the world. Factory pay scales must be brought more into balance; working conditions which are considered unacceptable in one region must also be unacceptable in all regions.
Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. If workers in America are willing to accept barbaric exploitation of workers in other lands, then those same barbaric conditions will ultimately come back to haunt them in America.
Better to raise the standards of life for all. This can only happen when we accept and understand the basic dignity and unity of all human beings; the inner consciousness which animates and fires the soul of every human being everywhere.
Only by using this principle, the basic dignity and rights of people everywhere as equal, can one begin to correctly analyze the complex issues which comprise the perilous situation of late twentieth century global humanity.
Is a human baby born in Mexico any less valuable than a human baby born twenty miles to the north in suburban San Diego? By what rght do we consign one to economic poverty and the other to material abundance (ands spiritual depravity)?
The Romans could not forever keep the millions of Germans from crossing the Rhine and overwhelming the Roman concept of the inequality of worth of human beings based on accident of geographical location of birthplace. We Americans can not forever hold off the millions of Mexicans desperately trying to cross the Rio Grande, nor can the western Europeans forever hold off the onslaught of Muslims from the south and east.
The concept and idea of unequal humans by virtue of birthplace can not stand; the only sound foundation for a New Age must be the understanding that human dignity knows no borders!
"For the earth is one country, and all mankind its citizens."
Magna Carta for the Information Age
Back in the USA...
We hold these truths to be self-evident...
Jean Valjean in America...
Action in a Complex World must be based on Principles...
The world in which we live has passed a threshold of complexity
which will never be reversed. No longer is it feasible to intelligently base
one?s actions on the old rules of thumb, nor on political ideologies, nor
on any of the other utilitarian self-serving approaches. In fact, in a world
this complex, one can never know for sure the outcomes of one?s actions, nor
even can one calculate the probabilities of whether one?s actions will result
in good or ill. The only recourse for an intelligent person is to base decisions
and subsequent actions on a consistent set of Principles.
In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo told us the story of Jean
Valjean; convict, thief (of a loaf of bread to feed his family), and peasant,
Jean Valjean, transformed by the acceptance without hesitation by one good
man, sacrificed himself repeatedly in an escalating spiral of giving up of
himself and his physical, mental, and emotional well being for the good of
others, without thought of reward nor chance of gratitude. Jean Valjean,
successful entrepreneur who, having given the greater part of his business
profits away consistently to the poor, finally gave up his business, his
honor and good name, his love, and his life in order that others might prosper.
When Victor Hugo published Les Miserables in 1863, it
caused a sensation in Paris, London, New York, and other cities around the
world. So moving was its message of self-sacrifice that the mere book created
a stir similar to the greatest movies of our time, perhaps greater.
I wonder, what would be the reception of Les Miserables in
1998 America? Perhaps Jean Valjean would be viewed as the most stupid person
on earth, a hopeless businessman who lacked the killer?s instinct. Jean Valjean
did not die with the most toys; he didn?t gratify his ego; he didn?t experience
a romantic love at all; he was, by today?s standards, I fear, a complete
and total dud.
The choice seems, to me at this moment, to be clear. On the one
hand, our contemporary culture recommends to us a full life, full of gusto,
experiencing as many thrills as possible. In today?s terms, the essence of
a life is pleasure, wealth, power over others, and absence of pain.
Or, like Jean Valjean, one can abide by certain principles, carefully chosen no doubt! By this standard, the essence of life is to make a difference for humanity, for civilization, for the future; dare I say it? for God.
A Business Manifesto for the Next Millennium
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