11 February 2008

A "New" Direction: World Peace. Part I of III

World Peace. What a hackneyed phrase that has seen little use in the past seven years by Democratic or GOP leadership. How can we elevate it to the level of debate? By bringing it to our level of debate.

When asked in Kindergarten what I would do if I had three wishes, besides wishing my mother president and realizing my dreams of becoming an astronaut, I wished for World Peace. I have gotten older and the latter two wishes still stand. (And possibly the former.)

So is peace so trivial that it fits squarely with the capricious desires of a five-year-old wonk and 23 year old wank? Not quite. Although moon walking would be cool, I have not dedicated much of my time to this goal. On the World Peace front I have, albeit not directly. To live in a responsible way I strive to reduce my carbon footprint, to eat ethically and to donate money to charity. To position myself so I am able to make informed decisions both now and in a future position of government service, I expend considerable effort understanding US interventions in the Middle East, the European Dream, Globalization, Islam, Christianity, current events, economic models, and more. Besides satiating my curiosity, by understanding the world, I can more effectively leverage my time, my abilities, my dollars and my efforts to make a difference, leaving the world better than when I arrived. The American dream which premises my aspirations, gives me confidence to truly believe that through my efforts my optimism is realism.

We all strive to transcend our Freudian desires by analyzing the world which we live in, and then take action by living life ethically and responsibly. Such spiritual enlightenment, humanism, or fulfillment of God’s wishes, has difficulty finding traction in a secular society. If we take such ideals and plug them into the rubric of World Peace, we quickly create a goal which is tangible, encompassing that which is humanistic or religious, and gives focus to our numerous efforts to improve the world.

World Peace: Fitting the varied pieces together

Conflict at a basic level is the result of irreconcilable differences. The factors which contribute to global stability are wide ranging as I outline below.

Anthropogenic impacts on global processes

Humans are rapidly inducing change in the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. The rate of change outpaces that seen in the past 600 million years of geologic history, with the exception of catastrophic events such as the Permian-Triassic extinction of 251 mya, and the Cretaceous-Tertiary "dinosaur" extinction 65 mya. The atmosphere is warming, the geosphere losing valuable irrigable land, the biosphere losing species diversity, and the hydrosphere seeing changing rainfall patterns. These effects will rapidly alter local priorities as states, provinces, and countries vie to cope with the changing earthscape. I have not read Jared Diamond's works yet, though this sounds like resource wars.

International Development and Aid

Civil war, child soldiers, sub-Saharan Africa: what is the role of the development and aid community in ending such conflicts? A simple equation by Paul Collier in "The Bottom Billion" is halve the income of a country and double the probability of civil war. Of the World's bottom billion, three-quarters of that population is or has recently been in civil war. The cause of such conflict varies, though an important factor is the number of young and uneducated males. Through development aid, this population can obtain education, and the risk of civil war decrease.

On another level, aid money builds relationships and goodwill. There is no doubt in my mind that one trillion dollars spent on international aid would have had a far greater affect on global stability than that amount did through military spending in Iraq.

Globalization

A broad topic. By understanding the mechanisms of the world, one has the tools to make responsible decisions when interacting with it, in a way that will promote peace.

Informed Food Choices

The decision to eat organically, eat locally, or forgo eggs unless they are free-range, has a tenuous tie to global stability. Eating organically can translate into less degradation of the hydrosphere, eating locally can mean less fossil fuels used in the end product, and free range eggs, well I am at loss as to how that directly brings about World Peace. Though there is an importance! Those choosing to eat free-range eggs often do so as a result of aversion to pain and suffering on the part of the chickens and a degree of dissatisfaction with the industrial poultry process. Such dignity for life and thoughtful understanding becomes innate, making other decisions more likely to be made humanely and responsibly.

Volunteering

Helping others. Lending a helping hand. Holding hands. I doubt volunteering causes war. I wont bother arguing for this one. Though do volunteer responsibly, e.g. it uses fossil fuels to transport oneself to the location.

Conclusion

The World Peace rubric encompasses disparate ethical actions reasonably well and is a phrase easily understood and a state of the world universally desired. It is time to raise World Peace to the level of debate like so many other causes we fight for.

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