Sep 3, 2009, 8:00 AM
This is at least what all governments claim to stand for. It is this innate human desire to find strength in numbers and build security in togetherness that gave rise to nation states run by governments. The politics of these governments go a long way towards fostering peace at home and peace with their neighbours. However, it is fascinating to realize that in this age of technological wizardry, massive wealth, unrivalled scientific knowledge and better awareness about justice and equality, the world is increasingly becoming unequal and intolerant. Poverty, hatred, injustice, disease, corruption and arrogance are as prevalent as before, if not worse.
The sorry state of the world today is a direct result of what I call the ‘politics of denial’ and the failure to look beyond this kind of politics. Denial in the sense that the world’s political players, both state and non-state actors, by their actions and words continue to deny the simple truth that all human beings, never mind their religion, race or geographical location share the same aspirations in life; the desire to be delivered from deprivation and despair.
The politics of today pays little service to the collective human good. One can argue with confidence that every nation is bent on prospering at the expense of others, deliberately ignoring the obvious fact that the solution is looking beyond the divide. That is looking beyond politics. Dividing the world into ‘democracies’ and ‘non-democracies’, ‘backward’ and ‘advanced’ societies is a grave misrepresentation and a failure to recognize our common denominator- humanity.
The world would only be a better place when we, the people (that is people and governments of all countries) learn to reassert our responsibility both individually and collectively and then look beyond the politics forced on us by our sentiments, selfish interests, and pundits in the service of division. Analysts like to class us into the ‘First World, Second World, and Third World’ countries. They further divide us into upper class, middle class and lower class. But let them be aware, there is no plebeian, there is no patrician; there is only Rome. We are one. The idea that the other person is not good enough or does not deserve equal treatment because he/she is different has been proven time and time again to be at extreme polarity with reason. We have for thousands of years entrusted governments to elevate us to the highest state of wellbeing. However, the records so far have not been satisfactory for the vast majority of the human race who go to bed hungry and wake up with little hope for a better day.
Politicians must get rid of their ruse of reducing politics to a naked ideology designed to serve the interest of the few ruling elite and their financial collaborators. How many innocent lives are being lost and how many hopes are being shattered the world over just because of the greed and arrogance of a few who by subterfuge and swindle, lord it over the majority? As long as the people are just allowed to debate but not allowed to decide, democracy would continue to be a mirage.
In a bid to establish and retain power and influence over the people of the world, politicians have developed an intricate framework of propaganda supported with bogus institutions constantly telling us to jealously guard our differences and discount our similarities. And the trick has worked and is working so well that it becomes absurd to us that there is an alternative to the status quo. The media and other institutions are always reminding us that we belong to a particular country and we are of right obliged to serve that single entity. We are told our bodies and minds belong there and there only. Thus we are all today proud citizens of one nation or another.
To be fair enough, the concept of seeing oneself as belonging to a political state should not have been a detriment to the welfare of the globe. Indeed it should have helped us to pull together in the spirit of ‘internationalism’. Like the different organs of the body, countries should see themselves as serving the interests of the same body, which is the planet. With this in the minds of everyone, governments’ decisions would cut across their home territories for the benefit of all. You may take this idea of a pan-world oriented government as far removed from reality but a closer look at our modern states shows that most of them are a mini-world of their own. They consist of citizens of different religious, race, ethnic and political backgrounds. And yet they are able to pull as one.Again people in Europe, Africa, Asia, andthe other continents are now increasingly drifting towards the realization that the surest way for them to make it, is to act together as one. This is a clear confirmation that the diversity that we think is a barrier is not actually the case. The world may be geographically large and made up of people of different cultures but I think it is not too complex to defy concerted efforts. In the face of global problems, we need global solutions.
On the contrary, allegiance to our artificial nations has but only escalated discord and mistrust in the world. For example, Iran cannot talk to Israel, the United States and Venezuela have decided to be rivals, Eritrea is on a war footing with Ethiopia, and there is what seems like ceaseless bad blood between Pakistan and India. These examples could be multiplied many times over. You do not need to look far beyond your environment to notice even more graphic details of misunderstandings caused by misplaced nationalism.
Yet have you ever asked yourself why things are in this bad shape?Was the world created in this way or are our actions or inaction to blame? The truth of the matter is not hard to find out. It is the politics of denial promoted and enforced by the privileged at the top that is dividing and setting the common people of the earth against each other. We are unconsciously programmed and controlled to act in line with the wishes and dictates of the few. I believe by now you understand what I mean by the few. Basically left to their own reflections without any dose of divisive politics from their governments, there would be little or no trouble between people of one country and another. After all, we may reside in different countries, speak different languages, and call ourselves by different names, yet we are all citizens of the same planet in the common struggle for survival. The peanut farmer in The Gambia, the bank executive in New York, the camel nomad in the Sahara Desert, the native farmer in South America, and the peasant in China all share the common desire to live a better life. The Cuban and American governments may not like each other but hundreds of thousands of Cubans are living in the US and given the opportunity many Americans would find no fault in visiting, and trading with Cuba. Despite the political tension between Iran and Israel, there are still Jews in Iran living side by side with the rest of the Iranians.
The politics of religion is largely responsible for the misunderstanding between India and Pakistan. However, before the active politicization of Hinduism and Islam in the sub-continent which ultimately led to its partition into Hindu dominated India and Muslim dominated Pakistan, the two peoples shared the same country. And I am of the conviction that many open-minded people across the political and religious divides of the sub-continent who refused to be led into the politics of suspicion between the two neighbours have no problem at all getting along with each other. These are the people looking beyond politics.
Even in the midst of adversity and acrimony as is the case with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we still continue to hear stories of common people manifest the utmost love and compassion to their fellow humans. You may have heard of the Guardian newspaper report of the courageous Palestinian parents, Ismail and Abla Khatib, whose 12-year-old son, Ahmed was killed by Israeli gunfire during a raid on Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in 2005. Ahmed according to reports later substantiated by the Israeli military was shot after waving a toy gun that looked, to the soldier who shot him, like a real gun. The Israeli army later apologized for the deadly mistake. Ahmed’s parents instead of calling for revenge and war decided to donate his organs for transplant. Ahmed’s heart, kidneys, liver and lungs were transplanted into six Israelis, four of them Jewish.
The move was hailed by stunned Israeli leaders as a “remarkable gesture for peace”, particularly given the circumstances of Ahmed’s death, and a bridge between warring communities. Israel’s then Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, telephoned Ahmed’s, father, Ismail to praise his “noble gesture”. The speaker of the Israeli parliament praised the Palestinian family for its “remarkable humanity”.
According to the same Guardian report, that was not the first time that victims of the conflict have given life to people on the other side of the Arab-Jewish divide. Three years before this incident, a 19- year-old Jewish religious student from Scotland, Yoni Jesner, died in the bombing of a Tel Aviv bus. Part of his body went to save the life of a Palestinian girl from East Jerusalem.
Such deep personal reconciliation between the ordinary people of Israel and Palestine is what is needed to push the peace process forward. This and many other examples do substantiate the idea that people as opposed to their governments are the solution to the world’s problems. Imagine if politics (politics of religion and history) was put aside as was in the forenamed story, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have been history by now. But the monopolists and divisionists on either side of the Israeli-Palestinian problem do not want any reconciliatory gesture by the common people. They label any advocates of peace as traitors when in fact it is they, the leaders who are the traitors. They have built a system which has sentenced the brotherly people of Israel and Palestine to despair and the inability to look beyond the present reality of feud and intransigency.
Whilst many experts are of the view that a two-state solution with Israel for Jews and Palestine for Arabs is the only way we can solve the conflict, I think a one-state formula would be better. I believe the two people who historically are of the same ancestry should be encouraged to reassert their oneness and once again live together peacefully under one authority. Israel and Palestine should be amalgamated to form a single state with Jerusalem as the capital. We should totally deal away with the official position of Israel as a Jewish state and Palestine as an Arab state. It has not helped in the past, it is not helping now and it might never help in the future.
The two-state solution is an indirect endorsement and acceptance of the eternal division of the Israelis and Palestinians. In effect we are saying they can never live together, thus the ultimate solution is to further polarize them into two different states. Is that a solution? The division of colonial India into independent India and Pakistan has not in any way solved the hatred and mistrust between the two. Instead we have two giants doing all they could to undermine each other. In fact they have gone to war more than once on frivolous issues. If the Hindus and Muslims were encouraged to co-exist in one republic, perhaps the story would have been different.The two-state formula is just a recipe for the continuation of the conflict. If the Jews and Arabs cannot share the land, I do not think they can harmonize their relations by dividing it.
The mediators especially the United States should work towards encouraging the Israelis and Palestinians to think outside of the box and establish a republic where Jews, Arabs, Iranians, Muslims and Christians live together in dignity and tolerance.Of course I am not saying that the new state would be a perfect one but I am of the conviction that an uneasy marriage is better than a planned divorced. The protracted civil war in Somalia in East Africa is enough proof that sometimes homogeneity is not the only ingredient needed for a state to be viable. The people of Somalia follow the same religion and speak the same language and yet they have been locked in a bloody conflict since 1991.The success story of the United States is equally a powerful reminder that diversity is not a weakness.
We have been and continue to be taught by the monopolists and diversionists, that is those, be they political leaders or otherwise who have vested interest in keeping us apart, that our destinies are not compatible. This is not surprising because that is the only way they can maintain their hegemony on the innocent people of the earth. The cooperation we need is the cooperation they fear. They think they have nothing to gain and a lot to lose in seeing the status quo melt down before their very eyes. Most of the time our impressions about other nationalities, religions, races, or even neighbours are to a large extent shaped by what we hear about them and not what we actuallysee in them. Thus, many a time we have to swap our first opinion of people with the second after learning that the first was out of touch with reality. Sometimes our enemies are in fact imaginary characters and terminologies coined by the monopolists and their media collaborators. Just think of the terms terrorist, extremist, conservative, left-wing radicals, and the list goes on. What do you make of them?
To be honest I am not uninformed of the fact that we are not identical in thought and in aspiration and perhaps we will never be. Throughout history people have had artificial differences based on their view of the world and how to fix their place in it. We cannot help having legitimate differences. For that is the nature of humankind. Notwithstanding, my argument is that our collective resolve to look beyond the politics of division leaves much to be desired. For most of us, prejudice is our default position. If only we can extend the universal values of concern for each other across communities, religions, races and political boundaries, then the planet will be healed of its troubles.
We must not give way to the politicians whose actions belie their claims to be working for the citizens. For instance, a closer look at Hamas, Fatah and Israeli politicians would show that they are not fighting for the stated purpose but for politics. The innocent masses are being deceived into taking up arms against each other whilst the politicians search for the limelight in the luxury of their comfort zones.Neither side appears to be interested in a peaceful settlement of the conflict for each is run by a group which survives on instilling fear and hatred in the people. Keeping the people of Palestine and Israel in perpetual mistrust of each other is the politics of survival adopted by their governments. They are using the lives of the innocent as baits and pawns in their insatiable taste for political recognition.The best way to liberate the two people is to help them delete from their minds the hatred they have been forced to have for each other. What arms can do besides the destruction of lives and property is the further polarization of the communities, thus pushing peace afar.
Judging from the above, we must now ask ourselves what we can do to draw a new line of thinking for a better world. Must we take the hard decision of looking beyond politics and take collected steps in building a better world or should we take the easy decision of resigning to the status quo? If you believe in the power of the people as I do, if you consider humanity as one as I do, and if you recognize the role of the individual as I do, then the global healing process has just begun.
We should be more interested in slaying the ancient enemies of mankind; poverty, disease, war, ignorance amongst other menaces rather than occupy ourselves with petty politics of division and irrational quest for hegemony. I am aware of the fact that life on earth has never been perfect and perhaps will never be. Nevertheless, we owe it to our conscience and humanity to perfect the avoidable injustices we have through greed perpetrated on the innocent majority. If you think the world is too corrupted to be corrected or that we are too divided to be united, then you have fallen prey to the simplistic theory of leave-things-as-they-are. What man did to man is more than what man did for man, will only be true if all of us stand back and leave things as they are.Do not ever think that you are too old or too young, too poor or too powerless to effect a change. As a citizen of the world you are one of the valuable resources to be used either for the good or for the reverse. The choice is yours.
I would not conclude without calling on the United Nations to set aside a day to be commemorated globally as Human Race Day. On this day people all over the world can take a few hours on reflecting on the common aspirations that bind all of humanity together. We should learn to remember ourselves at least once a year.
Author: Abdoulie Sey Tel: 3655505