In Search of a Prime Directive by Brian Bogart
"What the people of Earth lack is representation by a single organization, dedicated to the future, that prevents the abuse of power by governments and individuals alike, and motivates replacing destructive trends with productive solutions."
When I was six, I wrote a letter to President Kennedy. He was on his way to Berlin, and I asked him to “take down that brick wall” while he was there.
Along with an exploding population, today we have a lot more walls—higher walls, deadlier walls—and they’re growing fast, as disputes rage on and on, blame after blame, revenge upon revenge. Our worldwide habit of ignoring the future and worshiping the past makes them grow. Christian, Jewish, Muslim… what’s it all mean if God’s children kill each other? I think it means we’re stupid and have extremely dangerous priorities.
And I wonder what Gandhi would say about Ariel Sharon continually demanding peace before peace talks can begin, knowing that Yasser Arafat can no longer control extremist factions. I think he would say it’s like offering water as long as the fire is out. I think he would admonish all of us for not seeking peace at every opportunity, no excuses. But then he’d likely encourage us that it’s not too late. Not yet.
To me, the future is sacred territory, more precious than anything else, more important than any religion, and in my heart and soul today, I stand on the very same spiritual ground upon which I stood in 1968 when Dr. King’s hand was torn from my grasp, and I refuse to cease to proclaim his higher vision that we are all one people.
At a point so close to global war, time is not a luxury. But with the number of crises growing faster than our ability to address them, a selfish here-today-gone-tomorrow attitude prevails, as if apocalyptic movie scenarios are true windows to our destiny. Well, it’s time to wise up and rise up and lower the walls so we can all live in peace.
What the people of Earth lack is an organization with a hundred-year plan that takes us to a higher level, that points the way to a future free of conflict, paints a picture of a world of justice and equality, and reminds leaders of the limits of our resources. What the people of Earth lack is representation by a single organization, dedicated to the future, that prevents the abuse of power by governments and individuals alike, and motivates replacing destructive trends with productive solutions. What the people of Earth lack is a Star Trek-like “Prime Directive” that requires all human actions and decisions to uphold the integrity of a viable future. And what people desperately need is the ability to connect with that kind of hope.
For decades, other nations looked to the United States hoping we’d someday apply our wealth and technology to the world’s many problems. This year they cringed as we told them our tobacco companies could help them save money by reducing their populations, that a global treaty addressing pollution would be bad for our nation’s economy, that selling weapons throughout the world is merely good business, that a germ warfare treaty is a bad idea, and that a missile defense shield over our nation is a wise plan for the future.
Well, one way or another, I say such examples of wisdom will get us all killed.
The power of our giant corporations in many ways exceeds the power of the countries in which they implant themselves. The World Bank of the Corrupt and Wealthy loans money to poor nations under terms which compel them to allow corporations to come in and process their limited resources for consumption abroad. Resources are stripped from these nations and sent to others merely to pay debts incurred by poverty. In years to come, when lesser nations are without resources and their people exist in hopeless poverty, what will be their alternative? Violence. And what will be our response? More defense spending. How can there ever be justice or security in such a future?
This would not be so alarming if it wasn’t our current plan for the future. Progress is not a nice word in corporate thinking, and corporations are running our government (in case you missed the news that we all just got hugely and legally ripped off while our attention was turned to anthrax and anthrax and oh-did-I-mention anthrax?). Progress is not a nice word in the minds of our leaders. But, without question, we’re reaching points of no return. There’s no time left for greed to run rampant; there’s no room left for war. Therefore, people must organize to retake the helm of human history, to tame corporate dictatorships, and to say we will not surrender this Earth to the madness of short-term thinking.
Today’s conflict isn’t just a conflict. It’s the symptom of a near-sighted civilization driven by greed. It’s the result of policies that bury the concept of equality while embracing destructive habits. It’s the trademark of a system that fills the pockets of a few at the expense of all life on Earth. We cannot move forward out of harm’s way without addressing sources as well as symptoms.
The insensitivity of greed got us into the mess we’re in today, and only human compassion can get us out. We need a long-term strategy with a global appeal, geared to break bad habits and instill popular trends of progress. To turn it all around, we need a new vision of a united Earth, and the hope of achieving such a goal by the end of this century; a world wherein tolerance, compassion, and nonviolent conflict resolution are universal policies. Simply put, we need to evolve from a “One Nation Indivisible” mentality to a “One Planet Indivisible” mentality in a hurry. Nationalism led to so many twentieth-century tragedies; global pride must be this century’s trend. We’ve recently proven we’re all genetically the same. Wouldn’t it be safer and more productive to celebrate the fact that we all come from the same family?
We are the only species capable of protecting all life on Earth. Humans are born caretakers. We must unite and move forward from that perspective in this century. We must all share grand hopes and grand efforts so we may survive to share a legacy of lasting peace.
While the future beckons untainted by our faults, we stumble forward, chained by tradition, crippled by a reflex to maintain the status quo, and betrayed by a failure to recognize the urgent need to complete our evolution from killers to caretakers. Breaking free of these faults means a giant step to ultimate success. And if it takes a hundred years, such a success would give a united planet a permanent source of pride in its unity. In years ahead, our common needs will require wisdom and cooperation never before so vast and never before so vital as we strive to break the bonds of tradition and reverse the many trends of destruction, and thus provide a progressive civilization with the tools, the workforce, and the leadership with which to create a fertile garden for the seeds of hope, the growth of ideas, and the refinement of humankind. But for such an era to begin, the world must see examples of higher wisdom, not military strength.
Peaceful coexistence is a challenge upon which our survival clearly depends. We must build the path that offers the greatest hope, for if we fail to meet this challenge, all in all we will have only traveled stupidly through a meaningless history and across the line between hope and despair.
Today we may stand on the verge of the greatest advance in the history of humankind. The tragedy of September 11 is the first modern-day incident to capture the full attention of the entire world. I’m heartened that, perhaps because of this crisis, the burdens once carried by the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King and John Lennon will be picked up and carried on a global scale, for we have overlooked for too long the bigger picture: that we are one people, and that the welfare of this planet depends on how soon the human race unites to build a world beyond war and terrorism.
For all life on Earth, a shared identity is the final frontier. It’s a concept so simple that children understand it: One planet, One future, One people. If protecting our tomorrows with a Star Trek-like prime directive sounds immature, consider that, among other things, the future is threatened by stuck-in-the-past disputes involving three religions that all worship the same god.
If you’re interested in helping create a realistic long-term plan to help turn things around and make the world safe, a plan with roots in the ideals of Dr. King, Gandhi, and John Lennon, please contact Brian at: [email protected]. The project is called The Future Foundation.