rn:J Robbins: Terror, Love & the State of the World


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,

Sorry to send out a THIRD message today, but this just came in and it fits
so well!

all the best, Jan
Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2001 07:23:09 -0800
From: CyberBrook <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Terror, Love and The State of the World

John Robbins is the author of many best-sellers, including Diet For A New 
America, and his recently released The Food Revolution. He is the founder 
of EarthSave International, and can be contacted through the website 

>Thursday, November 1, 2001
>Terror, Love and The State of the World
>by John Robbins
>When there is as much terror afoot as there has been since September 11th,
>it is hard to see how love might prevail.
>This is how it is with us human beings when we are afraid: We contract. Our
>breathing becomes shallow and constricted. Concerns for our immediate
>survival push everything else out of the picture. In the throes of terror,
>our thinking is narrowed and short-term. The world is divided into two kinds
>of people, those who are threats and those who can help us defend against
>the threat. Everyone else is seen as irrelevant, and might as well not
>exist. All our attention is focused on protecting ourselves from the
>immediate danger. Our thoughts become dominated by "fight or flight,"
>triggering the reptilian part of our brain to take over. If we can't
>successfully flee, then we must fight. It's kill or be killed. Nothing 
>else matters.
>That's the mindset of terror. That's what fear does to us. It's a state of
>consciousness that's been widespread in our nation since the horrifying and
>tragic attacks of September 11th.
>In Time magazine's special issue about the terrorist attacks, the concluding
>essay was titled, "The Case for Rage and Retribution." The author of this
>piece, frequent Time contributor Lance Morrow, called for "hatred," and "a
>policy of focused brutality." He was far from alone in speaking of the
>virtues of rage and retaliation. On Fox News Channel, Bill O'Reilly said
>"the U.S. should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble - the airport, the
>power plants, their water facilities and the roads." As far as the civilian
>population of Afghanistan, O'Reilly said, "If they don't rise up against
>this criminal government, they starve, period." Calling for the U.S. to
>massively attack not only Afghanistan, but also Iraq and Libya, he added,
>"Let them eat sand." Meanwhile, the former executive editor of the New York
>Times, A. M. Rosenthal, said we should issue ultimatums to six nations,
>including Iran, Syria and the Sudan, and then, if they don't comply to our
>satisfaction within 72 hours, follow up with massive bombing. New York Post
>columnist Steve Dunleavy was also something besides coolheaded, saying "As
>for cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball
>courts." The editor of National Review, writing in the Washington Post,
>concurred, adding, "If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it
>takes, that is part of the solution."
>With the sounds of such war drums reverberating through the American psyche,
>polls show that 80% support not only the use of ground troops in
>Afghanistan, but also military action against other countries in the 
>Middle East.
>I am no stranger to the desire for revenge. Like President George W. Bush,
>and most likely like you, I have felt it surge through me in recent weeks.
>Contemplating what took place on September 11th, are there any among us who
>have not, at least momentarily, felt their blood boil with outrage, and with
>the demand that these mass murderers and all those behind them pay with an
>eye for an eye?
>But at such times, when our hearts are filled with outrage and our eyes look
>everywhere for revenge, it is extraordinarily important that we remember the
>awesome truth behind Gandhi's prophetic statement: "An eye for an eye will
>only make the whole world blind."
>This is the very truth that the Osama bin Ladens of the world would want us
>to forget. They would like us to be so lost in hysteria that we can't think
>straight. They would like us to be so terrified, so anxious, so belligerent,
>that we lose perspective and make rash and destructive decisions. If we stay
>within the bubble of our fear, then the bin Ladens of the world will have won.
>Sometimes we need to take a very long, very slow, and very deep breath, to
>restore our mental balance and ability to function with clarity. There is a
>difference between enraged action and wise, effective response.
>Of course we should find the people and organizations responsible for the
>attacks of September 11th, and the subsequent anthrax mailings, and any
>other attempts that might yet be made to terrorize our nation. We should
>find them, destroy their networks, and bring them to justice. By no means
>should we tolerate or excuse their actions, much less allow them to
>continue. These are people not the slightest bit interested in giving peace
>a chance. The possibility that they might acquire and use nuclear weapons is
>unfortunately all too real. If we fail to track them down and uproot them,
>we may find ourselves in even worse shoes than the European who wrote, after
>World War II, "We who live beneath a sky still streaked with the smoke of
>crematoria have paid a high price to find out that evil is really evil."
>But as we work to uproot the terrorists and their networks, we must be
>careful to do so without escalating the cycle of violence, and without
>causing the deaths of even more innocent people, for this would only deepen
>the anger and rage already extant in our world. Burning down the haystack is
>not the best way to find the needle, especially when, in the effort, you
>might set the barn, and the whole world, on fire. We must bring those
>responsible to justice without jeopardizing our ability to create a world
>where terrorism won't take root, a world where criminal psychopaths find no
>followers, a world where hatred has no lure.
>This is no small task, but it is the task before us. Our leaders are wise in
>working to form a multinational coalition to fight terrorism. But this
>should not be merely a coalition of countries who allow the U.S. military
>the use of their airspace, or the use of their airports, or provide other
>military support. No coalition to defeat terrorism can be ultimately
>successful unless it is also a coalition of countries joining together to
>build a peaceful, just and prosperous world. Our coalition to defeat
>terrorism will do only half of its job if it merely seeks to defeat those
>who are responsible for the attacks of September 11th. It must also work to
>build a world of international cooperation, a world where no part of the
>greater human family is left out or marginalized.
>Approximately 6,000 people perished in the September 11th attacks. Our
>nation reels from that despicable brutality. But those who died from the
>attacks on that tragic day were not alone. On September 11th, 35,000
>children worldwide died of hunger. A similar number of children died on
>September 12th, and again on the 13th, and on every single day since then.
>Meanwhile, we in the U.S. feed 80% of our grain harvest to livestock so that
>a people whose cholesterol levels are too high can have cheap meat.
>To advance human security and control terrorism, we must not only find the
>brutality of the September 11th attacks to be totally intolerable. We must
>also find intolerable that one billion people worldwide struggle to survive
>on $1 a day, that more than one billion people lack access to safe drinking
>water, and that 3 billion people have inadequate access to sanitation.
>The presence of such dire poverty is an insult to human dignity and would be
>deplorable enough. But today, with worldwide telecommunications making the
>rising inequality between a rich, powerful and imposing West and the rest of
>the world visible to all, its continued existence can only spur those who
>have no prospect of a better life to previously unheard of levels of despair
>and rage. In a time when a handful of desperate and suicidal people can
>devastate the most militarily powerful nation in the history of humankind,
>any coalition dedicated to defeating terrorism must also be a coalition
>dedicated to the goal of bringing justice and prosperity to the poor and
>dispossessed. If we are serious about stopping terrorism, then our goal must
>be to reduce the level of pollution, fear, and poverty in the world.
>If this is truly our goal, and if we devote our actions and resources to its
>accomplishment, the support for the bin Ladens of the world will inexorably
>evaporate. People who would have otherwise sided with the terrorists will be
>clamoring to tell us who and where they are, and to help us find and 
>defeat them.
>This goal is too costly, many say. But this is not true. The cost of our
>initial military response will easily top $100 billion (on top of our
>already enormous annual defense budget of $342 billion). What could we
>accomplish if we spent even a small fraction of that much on programs to
>alleviate human suffering?
>In 1998, the United Nations Development Program estimated that it would cost
>an additional $9 billion (above current expenditures) to provide clean water
>and sanitation for everyone on earth. It would cost an additional $12
>billion, they said, to cover reproductive health services for all women
>worldwide. Another $13 billion would be enough not only to give every person
>on Earth enough food to eat but also basic health care. An additional $6
>billion could provide basic education for all.
>These are large numbers, but combined they add up to $40 billion - only one
>fifth as much as the $200 billion the U.S. government agreed in October 2001
>to pay Lockheed to build new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jets.
>Our government leaders have not hesitated to build an international
>coalition and to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to defeat those who
>launched the attacks of September 11th. What if we were equally as dedicated
>to building an international coalition to eradicate hunger, to provide clean
>water, to defeat infectious disease, to provide adequate jobs, to combat
>illiteracy, and to end homelessness? What if we understood that, today,
>there is no such thing as national security as long as the basic human needs
>of large portions of humanity are not met? In today's world made transparent
>by television and other telecommunications, any country that attains
>prosperity unshared by its fellow nations can only breed resentment and 
>Most immediately, we must address what is rapidly becoming an overwhelming
>humanitarian problem in Afghanistan. This nation has endured decades of
>conflict. As a result, there are millions of people there who, even before
>our bombing campaign began, were dependent on food aid. Now, they face the
>prospect of imminent starvation. According to United Nations experts, this
>is the most severe humanitarian emergency ever.
>The U.S. Government has made much of C-17 cargo planes dropping 20,000 food
>packets a day to Afghan civilians. But according to world hunger relief
>organizations active in Afghanistan such as Oxfam, the program has been a
>dismal failure. The president of one of the world's most prestigious aid
>organizations, Doctors Without Borders, speaking from Islamabad, deplored
>the program as so much "PR." The airdrops, he said, are a huge waste of
>money. The packages, containing enough to feed an adult for a day, land all
>over the place, with no guarantee that they will be retrieved. Many land in
>the midst of landmines. And the amount being dropped is insignificant is a
>country where seven or eight million people are in danger of starvation. The
>money ($25 million according to U.S. Government sources) would be far better
>spent provisioning the regular aid convoys already in action.
>There is a terrible irony here. The United States has long been a major
>supplier of food aid to Afghanistan. But now it is U.S. bombing that is
>destroying roads and making it impossible for substantial food aid to be
>delivered. If we were to make a dramatic effort, now, to get meaningful
>amounts of emergency relief to these people, it would make a great
>difference to their survival. If we don't, it will only cement in the minds
>of the world's masses the image of the U.S. as indifferent to the needs of
>the poor.
>While the vast majority of Americans care deeply about the welfare of their
>fellow human beings, the foreign policies of the U.S. Government have for
>some time now been seen by much of the rest of the world as arrogant and
>selfish. And it is a sad fact that we have far too often given them cause
>for such a view. It is hard to be proud of our country for standing nearly
>alone among nations in refusing to sign the treaty banning land mines; for
>being one of only four nations (the others are Libya, Syria and Iraq) who
>refuse to comply with a global treaty to eliminate chemical weapons; and for
>almost single-handedly blocking U.N. efforts to reduce the use of children
>as soldiers, even when two million children have been killed in armed
>conflicts in the past decade.
>Our nation has also done many wonderful and generous things. We have at
>times behaved with honor among nations, and been a beacon of freedom. But
>the world has seen our other side, too. It's not easy to feel grateful to
>the United States for being one of only two nations (the other is Somalia)
>to refuse to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and one of
>only three nations (the others are Libya and Iraq) to oppose the UN being
>able to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war
>crimes such as rape and sexual slavery.
>There is an enormous disconnect taking place between the will of the
>American people and the foreign policy of our government. The American
>people are for the most part honest, decent, and compassionate. But few U.S.
>citizens are aware of how much U.S. foreign policies have betrayed our
>caring and our humanity. How many Americans know that we are far and away
>the world's leading arms merchant? Or that, in the last fifteen years, the
>U.S. share of the worlds arms trade has increased from 16% to more than 70%?
>How many Americans know that even before September 11th we were spending 18
>times more money on the military than the combined spending of all of the
>nations identified by the U.S. Government as potential enemies (Cuba, Iran,
>Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Syria)?
>President Bush began his term by withdrawing from almost every multilateral
>agreement and international treaty that came up, except those that in the
>short term served to enhance American profits and power. From the outset,
>his administration angered and alienated the world community by disengaging
>from treaties attempting to deal with global warming, nuclear disarmament,
>population control, trafficking in small arms, and chemical and biological
>weapons, to name just a few.
>This is not a matter of partisanship. Both Republican and Democrat
>administrations have come all too often to define American self-interest
>almost without regard for the concerns of other nations. It's sad but true
>that to assure American access to oil and other natural resources around the
>world, and to provide a constant pool of cheap labor, the U.S. Government
>has frequently supported undemocratic and repressive regimes that have been
>hated by their own populations. We have massively supported governments that
>have engaged in widespread terrorism against their own people. Instead of
>supporting human rights and self determination, we've sold hundreds of
>billions of dollars of weapons to a string of tyrannical governments as long
>as doing so provided us with cheap oil and access to their markets.
>But now, suddenly, we are realizing that we desperately need the help of the
>world. There are signs of hope. As a London newspaper recently commented,
>"Colin Powell, in a stunning and rare display of humility for an American
>official, now acknowledges that in order to fight terrorism effectively the
>U.S. is going to have to be more sensitive to the concerns of other cultures."
>Might the United States remember in all of this that our national purpose is
>greater than the construction of a McWorld, and that we have a deep and
>paramount interdependence with the well-being of all of the world's peoples?
>As the president of the State of the World Forum, Jim Garrison, puts it: "If
>out of the present crisis the United States emerges more connected with the
>rest of the world, more willing to live cooperatively within coalitions than
>outside them, then light will have truly come from out of the darkness and
>redemption out of the recesses of hatred and war. In one of the deepest
>paradoxes of contemporary history, the present crisis might compel America
>to… (realize) no country is an island unique unto itself…and the only
>solution to hate is to stop the underlying causes that produce it, working
>within the community of nations to achieve goals that benefit the poor as
>well as the rich, the south as well as the north, the developing nations as
>well as those more advanced. Achieving this, America will fulfill the
>deepest yearning of one of its founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who
>wrote that he believed the real destiny of America would not be about power;
>it would be about light."
>Will the day come when the United States fulfills our true national purpose
>and achieves lasting national security?
>We'll know we've begun when we break our addiction to oil, and develop an
>economy based instead on hydrogen, wind power, solar power, and other
>non-polluting, safe and renewable sources of energy.
>We'll know we've begun to create true national security when we define the
>greatness of our civilization not by our military capabilities, not by our
>ability to inflict massive damage and punishment, but by our ability to
>bring out the best in ourselves and others, and by the quality of life we
>leave our children.
>We'll know we've begun when we stop thinking there is such a thing as
>"smart" bombs or "sophisticated" weapons. "Sophisticated" means having the
>ability to use our intelligence, empathy and imagination to solve serious
>and complex problems. "Smart" means realizing that when these bombs kill
>civilians they leave them just as dead, their families just as heartbroken
>and enraged, the spiritual fabric of the world just as shredded, and the
>human heart just as violated.
>We'll know we've begun to defeat terrorism when we see the connection
>between the $5 trillion the U.S. has spent on nuclear weapons since World
>War II and the homeless children shivering in the cold, the battered women
>who have no shelters, and the families broken by grinding poverty; when we
>see the connection between the $1 billion a day we've spent every day for
>decades on the military and the hungry people who have no hope, the children
>dying from preventable diseases, and the families who sell their daughters
>into sexual slavery because they see no other way to survive. We'll know
>we've begun to create a world where terrorism can't find a foothold when we
>commit ourselves and our resources to the building of a peaceful world with
>as much dedication as we've committed ourselves to war.
>We'll know we're on the right track when we begin producing and eating food
>that is healthy for our bodies and healthy for the Earth, and when we no
>longer find acceptable the existence of human hunger anywhere on the planet.
>We'll know we're upholding the human spirit when the power we seek is the
>ability to nurture and befriend, rather than to conquer and subjugate; and
>when the success we pursue is one in which all beings share because it is
>founded on reverence for life.
>We'll know we've begun to create a safer and kinder world when we design our
>public policies and personal lifestyles not just for individual advantage,
>but for the greater good of the whole Earth community. Then we will ask God
>to please hear the prayers of the people in prison, of the homeless, of the
>refugees walking on roads because a war has forced them from their homes. We
>will ask God to hear the prayers of those who hunger and are not fed, and
>those who are despised by their fellow humans because they are somehow
>different. We will ask God to feel the exhaustion of those living too close
>to the edge of their physical and spiritual resources. Then our religious
>and spiritual lives will make us more human, more humble, and more able to
>live with respect for all beings.
>In times of fear, most people step back and wait to see what others are
>going to do and what's going to happen. Some people, though, see the
>situation as an opportunity to step forward and take a stand. The more of us
>who in our hearts and lives take a stand for the creation of a thriving,
>just and sustainable way of life for all, the less likely it is that the bin
>Ladens of the world will accomplish their purposes, and the greater the
>chance that it will be love and not fear that will prevail. Then those who
>perished in the September 11th attacks will not have died in vain, but will
>live on in the flourishing of human hope and well-being.
>The bitter historical events that came to fruition on September 11th did not
>come from nowhere, but developed over decades and even centuries. Likewise
>the peace and understanding that we seek, and which alone will make us truly
>safe, need to be nurtured and cultivated over generations of time.
>It is to the planting, nurturing and harvesting of fruits worthy of all that
>is good and beautiful in us that we must now, as never before, dedicate our
>lives. Because now, as never before, the world needs our wisdom, our
>cooperation, and our understanding that all humanity is connected.
>John Robbins is the author of many best-sellers, including Diet For A New
>America, and his recently released The Food Revolution. He is the founder of
>EarthSave International, and can be contacted through the website
>  http://www.commondreams.org/views01/1101-01.htm

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