Where have all the flowers gone?

By h. Gibrain

Not long ago I was standing in a veritable war zone amid the tear gas, rubber coated bullets and stun grenades looking at the little yellow flowers I was unfamiliar with and thinking about how the western main stream media portrays this particular conflict in the usual fairly unbalanced thought-bytes and the only lives that are ever considered are the human ones: some humans matter more than others but the rest of flora and fauna has, essentially, no representation in the media and apparently doesn’t matter at all.

We all know how important the environment is – ever since the word came to be in use – and, as a culture of refugees, colonialists, conquistadors and anything but the indigenous, we are indoctrinated in a culture of denial and disconnect from nature (the environment outside of your skin) and our minds and the language we think with does not contain the right sequences of words to express or question not only human rights and equality in the eyes of international law and human rights law (if that’s your thing), in the eyes of god (if that’s your thing), through a lens of your indigenous roots on Earth (regardless of where you’re from and all of the defining characteristics of your identity), but we never consider the impact of human conflict on the environment.

Trying to unravel the entangling alliances between state parties is as angrifying as actually understanding the often dubious relationships, based on economic and military power, which reak havoc on innocent people the world over. I’m specifically avoiding examples because there are so many to choose from I don’t want to single out one perpetrator over another and draw a chorus of “what about the others’ “. Besides that’s not my point. My point is that all of that is somewhat irrelevant – the behavior is basically universal in that people are making, selling, buying, and using weapons to kill innocent people and it’s generally not sanctioned by the respective civil societies of the nation-states doing the killing. The underlying issue, which gains absolutely no attention in the press, in social media, from political pundits and the politicians themselves, is the simple set of questions everyone should be asking themselves with their morning coffee, afternoon cocktail, dinner and a joint, is “Who is making all of these weapons? Who is selling all of these weapons? Who is using all of these weapons? And why are they being made, sold, bought, used and not regulated in any consistent fashion, let alone produced at all – when they have only one purpose?”

 

I’m not gonna answer that simple set of questions. I have my own thoughts and beliefs about why this is taking place. The once in a while that I can bear to think about it I just ask myself “why isn’t everyone talking about this and trying to do something about the way these forms of commerce take place?”

Generally, energy flows where attention goes so let us all put some form of attention to this issue. It can be in the form of prayer, mediation, poetry, music, dance, food, letters and phone calls and general lobbying of government officials and weapons manufacturers, letters to editors, peace journalists can participate in focusing their attention on this matter as well. Of course, there are more than one hundred and ninety-eight methods of non-violent armed resistance according to one Gene Sharp (If you’re reading this you know how to use a search engine). I can’t do all 198, but I try a few here and there in a way that doesn’t interfere too much with my white male American middle aged middle classed privilege. I’m asking you do something too. Few are guilty, all are responsible.

A Letter to UNSG on Peace and the Illegality of War

Posted on 27th June 2015 in Peace, Peace Pedagogy, Practice, Theory
by h. Gibrain

Dear Mr Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

I write to you as a brother in humanity and to implore you to exploit your privileged position as Secretary General of the United Nations to promote and extend the principles and practices of peace as a formal discipline for civil societies at large – beyond the normal scope of the traditional means and mechanisms of the United Nations. During this time of intensifying global conflict and violence there is an equally pressing need for a more coherent and broader reaching education in conflict transformation, the prevention of armed international conflict and the illegality of war. To satisfy those needs there needs to be a corresponding transformation in some of structures, principles and practices of those entities which serves as stewards and enforcers of peace – the United Nations being the preeminent body established towards that end.

When the function of a body and its collective organs do not properly carry out their function it is time to evaluate the structural flaws that lead to that dysfunctionality. While there are numerous reforms to consider regarding potential structural changes of the UN and its organizations, I wish to offer the following change and addition to the United Nations which I believe would have a profound impact on global political affairs and the level of violence perpetrated around the world by governments for purposes beyond that of self defense.

The basis for this change comes, in fact, from the very name of the United Nations. Nations are, essentially, ethnic communities and the United Nations is in fact not a collective of nations but a collective of states. Thus, the very name itself suggests that their should be a representation of nations at the United Nations – a collective of organizations made up of the world’s ethnic communities and civil societies that can express and exercise their will and intentions through a voice at the United Nations. Some of the impediments to the United Nations carrying out its mandate may be countered by these voices.

Perhaps the first international treaty to incorporate an extensive consensus on the fact that war was not the answer to international conflict was the Kellogg-Briand Pact – essentially outlawing war as recourse to settle international disputes. It was this very principle from which the United Nations eventually emerged – as espoused in Article I of the UN Charter. These principles have been violated by parties to these contracts. That those parties who are the perpetrators of great violence have a voice at the United Nations and the nations who are affected in the gravest of ways have no voice at the United Nations needs to change.

The United Nations, and particularly the role of the Secretary General, can play a crucial role in the promotion of the principles and practices of peace by advocating for, and exercising the full extent of its authority, the implementation of new structures at the UN which will give a voice to the nations of the world – the respective civil societies of the United Nations. Representation – having a voice at the UN, however, is not enough. These voices must be educated in the principles and practices of peace. The United Nations can expand its role as an educational vehicle to inform nations of what I will characterize, for the sake of brevity, as a brutal history necessitating the formulation of what is, essentially, international law. Additionally, the principles and practices of conflict transformation which transcend the traditional role to the United Nations as peace keeper and peace maker can be incorporated into the practices of UN and be disseminated through an expanded UN education system.

The creation of representation for true nations, “member nations” at the United Nations, along with the respective expanded role of education in Peace Studies is one of the many steps that can be taken to further promote international peace and support the main goal of the United Nations to uphold what, essentially, so many states have agreed upon but themselves do not adhere to: war as a means to settle international disputes is illegal. The United Nations is the entity which should create this body so that it stands on an equal footing with the member states and, therefore, has its legitimacy as a true representation of the will of the nations of Earth.

You, Mr. Secretary General, hold the highest political office representing the international collective of human life on Earth and have the power and authority to promote and support the implementation of these additions which will have a profound effect on transforming the increasing level of violence throughout the world into something moving the geopolitical landscape towards a more just and equitable enforcement of the principles of peace based on the illegality of war.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing your reflections and interest in such a reformation.

 

In Solidarity,

 

United Nations General Assembly Declares Decade of Reconciliation

Posted on 16th February 2015 in Peace, Self Determination
by h. Gibrain

Under the directorate of the United Nations Secretary General, the UN’s General Assembly has been instructed to exercise its full legal authority under international law by instituting a number of programs and reforms to the structural organization and function of the UN – as a whole and for each of its specific organs.

 

This action, according to a spokesperson for the office of the Secretary General, has largely come in response to a symbolic lawsuit presented to the International Criminal Court suing the General Assembly, the International Court of Justice and the Security Council on the basis that, though it is commonly perceived that those organs have no legal authority and are, essentially, a whole lesser than the sum of its parts in that the member states are responsible for the net result of the respective UN organ, the UN Charter does, in fact, grant legal authority tantamount to statehood to each of these organs and therefore those UN bodies can be tried under international law as states for failing to carry out there respective mandates.

 

Accordingly, while it is argued that, for example, the Security Council is only as effective as the veto of its member states and, historically, this veto has been used by the permanent members to block any initiative, legal action, or principle on the grounds that it doesn’t fit in with the narrative of their hegemonic future, it is the absolute responsibility of both the Secretary General and the General Assembly to take actions to hold the member states accountable that fail to live up the their legal obligations.

 

To counter a potential “legal” battle between the ICC and the ICJ the UNGA has begun to take steps to exercise the full might of its authority. However, they have expressed the intention to cast a positive light on these initiatives; rather than take legal action against states, they are taken proactive steps to support relations among states and between states and their respective civil societies. The biggest initiative release to the public thus far is the United Nations Decade of Global Reconciliation. “Well, let’s face it, the globe is a wreck and the only thing that is going to change it is a long process of global reconciliation,” states C. James Ernstrum, a spokesperson for the office of the General Assembly.

 

The main idea between the UNDOGR comes from the acknowledgment that the UN, itself, and international law is largely formulated by the victors of war – empires. This structure and formulation entirely leaves out indigenous perspectives. IN recognition of the fact that the western model has proven to be both destructive and increasingly violent, the UNDOGR is attempting to incorporate the reconciliation and mediation processes of indigenous cultures who survived and thrived for thousands of years in relative peace without all of the incredibly powerful destructive forces preeminent in the last century and a half.

 

“The indigenous peoples relationship is to the land and the narrative is one of survival as a part of the infinite web of life. The western mentality is based on possession and domination which, as we are all witnessing, has incredibly destructive power and natural processes can’t compensate for this without the help of human beings repairing the damage they’ve done to the environment – to the extinction of species, to the natural patterns in the weather cycles and perhaps most importantly, to the realization that we are in fact all tied together through water, blood and the great spirit that keeps our hearts beating as one,” spiritual leader of the Wasichu Thunder Clan notes in the UNDOGR’s publication soon to be released to the public and the member states of the UN. He continues, ““This is to be a global effort incorporating member states, civil societies and indigenous cultures and, the indigenous peoples of this planet will have the role similar to the UNGA for this initiative – not the member states, who have proven that they do not represent the will of the people nor can they unite on any particular initiatives for the benefit of the global civil society that stand counter to their respective hegemonic goals.”

 

“The first actions should be a symbolic giving back of stolen lands to the indigenous people,” said former UN Undersecretary General Robert Mueller. Obama would have to symbolically return the lands of the US to the indigenous – with the understanding, of course, that the Native Americans would let the descendents of immigrants and colonialists to remain since they are now, too, indigenous to this land. Netanyahu, or his successor, will give the land back to the Palestinians. Australia would give the Island Continent back to the Aborigines, and so one. The process, you can imagine, would continue until all stolen lands were given back to their original owners and, the underlying mission and intention, is to highlight the fact that we are one species living on one planet and we will, necessarily for our survival, need to live beyond the nation state: trans-nationally; acting with the intention to promote our own welfare in that our welfare is directly related to the welfare of all species and the organic systems upon which they rely and we must work to protect the children of all species.

 

“Beyond that there will need to be fortuitous gestures of reparations to the enslaved, dispossessed and murdered victims of empires and colonialism. This would entail reparations to the ancestors of slaves in the US and all around the world. Compensation to victims of war, refugees and internally displaced persons and so on,” adds Mueller. Again, the underlying intention is to illustrate that the “initial insult” can be traced back to some point in our common history through this series of reparations since each group will likely at some point in their history committed some injustice against another.

 

When we’re all done acknowledging the injustices we’ve perpetrated, apologizing, paying each other back and reconciling our pasts we will achieve a state of equality necessary for us to move towards our common destiny in cooperation and not in competition through the injustices perpetrated by states against nature and civil societies for profit and domination. Somewhere in our common history our narratives became dominated by a proclivity towards an unjust hierarchical system yet we have now reached a time where civil societies have become organized to counter the injustices of their respective states. We’re taking it to the next level through this initiative to weave together a global civil society who all share the same aspirations for peace, equality and a unity based on our common humanity and destiny.” Mueller concludes.

… by peaceful means, …

by H. Gibrain

“To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;” – Article 1.1 UN Charter

 

Signatories to the UN Charter are bound by international law to settle disputes peacefully and only resort to force when all other avenues for dialogue, diplomacy, negotiations and other means to settle disputes have been exhausted. The language of the UN charter is, in and of itself, profound in its implications yet fails miserably to live up to its own standard; needless to say this is a function of the member states and not the organization itself – yet the organization lacks the means to hold its members accountable for breeches of this fundamental.

 

One of the major flaws of the structure of the United Nations is that it is in fact not a united nations at all – it is a group of states – and does not have any body that represents nations of peoples. If the settling of disputes were left to nations, be they ethnic groups or imagined groups, I think the world would be in a much better state than it is now – where our collective fate is determined by a global corporate mafia that call themselves governments.

 

For starters, most normal members of civil society know how to party in the tradition sense as opposed to the sense implicit in the phrase “political party.” People would settle their disputes through drinking – which could lead to sex, sleep, vomiting, brawling and brotherly love; a far cry from settling disputes with bunker busters, tear gas, white phosphorous, hellfire missiles and the be-all-that-ends-all: nuclear war.

 

Sports are a very physical way to incorporate competition with cooperation with some minor injuries and the occasional fatality though nothing like that of war. The Olympics are a perfect example of settling disputes by peaceful means; may the best person/team win based on their dedication, discipline and an intelligent strategy.

 

The arts are also a wonderful means by which people can explore their differences. The display and performance arts are a great playground for our commonalities as well as our differences: theater, dance music, painting, sculpture, and so on are a great way of exploring differences in culture which offer an opportunity for appreciation rather than disdain.

 

The culinary arts, too, should not be underestimated as a means by which nations can settle disputes. Exploring flavors – what could be better.

 

If music is the universal language of humans then numbers are the universal language of nature. Why are there so many languages and only one set of numbers (except for the Romans)? We all speak the same numbers and live on the same planet with the same paragon of flora and fauna. Why do we not learn to play peacefully with numbers to explore the vast realms of organic organization. This would keep us busy for a long while – as it has.

 

We don’t see too many natural scientists and mathematicians calling for war, going into battle, or bludgeoning each other in the streets. Similarly, short of a battle of the bands, musicians tend to be a peaceful lot not smashing in each others skulls and taking fingers as trophies. Chefs, dangerous as they may seem, are clearly out for the betterment of society providing blood and soul sustenance. Similarly, athletes are all about the competition and victory but most sporting events tend to end with fewer deaths than wars.

 

The world needs to be run by an organized civil society transcending the idea and reality that nation states have been able to muster in terms of creating a peaceful planet devoid of blood lusting greedy murderous corporate fascist war mongers: megalomaniacal psychopaths. When the United Nations becomes a forum for the united nations of peoples from the respective civil societies of what are now nation states perhaps the prospects for human peace will be realized. I’m sure our plant and animal sisters and brothers are longing for the day when they are no longer subject to our collective insanity.

 

The United Nations: We won’t be fooled again!

Posted on 3rd January 2015 in Peace, Peace Pedagogy, Practice, Reflections, Self Determination

Perhaps the first seminal work on large scale brainwashing of a peoples was “A Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” by Paolo Freire: an essay published in or around 1970 in which he articulates the notion that when the language of a peoples, of a nation, is the language of the oppressor, the peoples themselves are sort of caught in an intractable relationship between oppressor and oppressed until they come to realize that their language is a sort of prison guard to their perpetual slavery and if they can change the way they speak, they can change the way they think and can therefor change the way the act and, ultimately change the nature of their circumstance: their oppression.

 

A recent example of this, it has been argued, is the Occupy Wall Street movement – which, for its potentially dubious origins, lack of organization and overall ineffectiveness did exemplify the potential power of a semi-organic movement coalescing, organizing and beginning to define itself. It was, in a sense, a parthenogenic disturbance: an unfertilized embryo destined to spontaneously abort with no potential of becoming viable. In any case, perhaps a better and more appropriate terminology to express the intent and sentiment of the occupiers would have been to call the movement “inhabit wall street” or “cohabitate wall street” indicating something more in line with what was being sought – equality and justice. This one word switcheroo is a total game changer and has profound implications, speaking volumes to the very fundaments and intentions of the collective and definitely redirecting the strategy. It includes all stakeholders as having a valid claim in a shared space and demands dialog, listening and, as Freire called it, a dialogical conscientiazation. It is, in essence, the knowledge that is gained and shared through learning about others’ capacities and interpretations of reality; it is learning empathy.

 

Similarly, the entire world has been duped into accepting the United Nations as a collective of states organized to contract and execute international norms regarding war and peace: international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law and others. That in and of itself is a seemingly noble cause save the fact that the United Nations is a collection of states and nations are collections of peoples of a common culture: an ethnic community (with a slightly political bent – a meaning the term has evolved to include). States haven’t been around that long historically. Before that it was empires, dynasties, monarchies and the like: colonialists at heart and in practice. The idea that states should represent the will, desire, expectation and needs of a nation is also a noble prospect yet, historically, this is not the case. To expect a United Nations of united states to carry out the will of a united nations of peoples is seemingly absurd. Perhaps this is why the United Nations is fundamentally dysfunctional. The representatives at the UN are not necessarily representing the will of the nations of peoples whom their respective governments send to deliver the message of the nation; that is, the message of the nation at the United Nations is the message of the state and even in the glorious western democracies the likelihood the will of the nation and the will of the state coincide is slim.

 

Let’s call it what it is or, better yet, create what it should be. A true United Nations of united nations of peoples coming together and doing what the states are unable or unwilling to do because they are inept or have dubious intentions. Those among us who have traveled to other lands and met other peoples – physically or astrally – understand that the common ground for our humanity is vast yet the establishment of the foundations for equality and peace are outside of the purview of many of the member states of the United Nations and, as a functional organism, the United Nations is incapable of carrying out its mandate because it is structurally compromised – as its name indicates.

The Zero State One Nation Solution: Terra Nullius

by H. Gibrain

A viable solution which would respect the human rights of all concerned and which would solve the problem of borders and resources, as well as demographics and the right to return for all peoples, Palestinian and otherwise, would be to declare the geographic boundaries defined by the Palestine Mandate as terra nullius – no one’s land.

Since this “disputed” land (annexed and occupied by the UN and Israel and the US and others by proxy) is really the last great colonial product of the British Empire – now perpetuated by the US and the other former colonized British states – let it be the first place on earth where there is no state control based on any discriminatory factor, where no one owns the land and where all people are seen as equal under the moral code of the nation as determined by what could be a stateless nation with a constitution (not defining a government structure, per se, but defining a moral code analogous to the Bill of Rights in the US and other international declarations based on equality, peace, justice, liberty, freedom, truth, dignity, trust and the rest of the virtues.

Such a move will require a great deal of courage from the United Nations organs and member states who are willing to uphold the law through their words and actions, an organized popular resistance from Palestinian civil society – and potentially the PA (as, say, exhibited in Abbas’ speech at the UN (in 2011 I think it might have been), and the international solidarity movement through BDS and other means of non-violent popular struggle.

The UN, in order to overcome the inertia of the security council and other organs that prevent the UN organizations – as an expression of its member states – to carry out its functions as prescribed by international law, the UN will likely need to change the structure since the current structure is not properly carrying out its function. The possibility and effects of a Second UN Charter convention should be seriously contemplated by the General Assembly and other appropriate bodies of the UN. Primarily, a restructuring or elimination of the Security Council, the veto, or how it can be used needs to be evaluated and the creation of some body representing civil society needs to take place – a people’s parliament.

In a Newtonian sense, when there are forces acting on a body creating a certain trajectory, in order to alter that trajectory and get it to go in the direction of an international law and human rights based system, the right actions need to take place from the right forces. In this case, as history has shown, there is no political will or skill from the main stakeholders to change the trajectory, so the Palestinian civil society and the respective civil societies of the world need to learn the principles and practices of non-violent popular struggle – which has shown, historically, to be a much more effective means of conflict transformation. It is not the military might that will win the struggle for legitimacy, it is the struggle for equality and justice from international solidarity with the Palestinians that will usher in a durable peace.