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A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

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  • A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

    I have entitled this piece "A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years" because after 50 years of seeing the world's problems as quintessentially global, I find the world is all of sudden joining me--and global warming seems to be the vehicle for this global push. I post the introductory paragraphs of a 38 page paper presented by the Baha'i International Community at the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UN because I think this paper presented back in 1995 perspectives that are more relevant today that they were then:
    A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

    If you want the full paper go to:

    The United Nations Decade for Human Rights EducationBaha'i Statement Library is a service of the Baha'i International Community. ... In Turning Point for All Nations, a statement issued on the occasion of the ...
    Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity of family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established. World unity is the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving. Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life.
    -Shoghi Effendi, 1936
    The Bah?'? International Community regards the current world confusion and the calamitous condition of human affairs as a natural phase in an organic process leading ultimately and irresistibly to the unification of the human race in a single social order whose boundaries are those of the planet.

    The human race, as a distinct, organic unit, has passed through evolutionary stages analogous to the stages of infancy and childhood in the lives of its individual members, and is now in the culminating period of its turbulent adolescence approaching its long-awaited coming of age. 7 The process of global integration, already a reality in the realms of business, finance, and communications, is beginning to materialize in the political arena.

    Historically, this process has been accelerated by sudden and catastrophic events. It was the devastation of World Wars I and II that gave birth to the League of Nations and the United Nations, respectively. Whether future accomplishments are also to be reached after similarly unimaginable horrors or embraced through an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth. Failure to take decisive action would be unconscionably irresponsible.

    Since sovereignty currently resides with the nation-state, the task of determining the exact architecture of the emerging international order is an obligation that rests with heads of state and with governments. We urge leaders at all levels to take a deliberate role in supporting a convocation of world leaders before the turn of this century to consider how the international order might be redefined and restructured to meet the challenges facing the world. As some have suggested, this gathering might be called the World Summit on Global Governance.8

    This proposed Summit might build on the experience gained from the series of highly successful United Nations conferences in the early 1990s. These conferences, which have included the World Summit for Children in 1990, the Earth Summit in 1992, the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, the World Summit for Social Development in 1995 and the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, have established a new methodology for global deliberations on critical issues.

    A key to the success of these deliberations has been the substantive participation by organizations of civil society. Painstaking negotiations among government delegations about changes in the world's political, social and economic structures have been informed and shaped by the vigorous involvement of these organizations, which tend to reflect the needs and concerns of people at the grass roots. It is also significant that in each case, the gathering of world leaders, in the presence of civil society and the global media, gave the stamp of legitimacy and consensus to the processes of the conference.

    In preparing for the proposed Summit, world leaders would be wise to heed these lessons, to reach out to as wide a circle as possible and to secure the goodwill and support of the world's peoples.

    Some fear that international political institutions inevitably evolve toward excessive centralization and constitute an unwarranted layer of bureaucracy. It needs to be explicitly and forcefully stated that any new structures for global governance must, as a matter of both principle and practicality, ensure that the responsibility for decision-making remains at appropriate levels.9

    Striking the right balance may not always be easy. On the one hand, genuine development and real progress can be achieved only by people themselves, acting individually and collectively, in response to the specific concerns and needs of their time and place. It can be argued that the decentralization of governance is the sine qua non of development.10 On the other hand, the international order clearly requires a degree of global direction and coordination.

    Therefore, in accordance with the principles of decentralization outlined above, international institutions should be given the authority to act only on issues of international concern where states cannot act on their own or to intervene for the preservation of the rights of peoples and member states. All other matters should be relegated to national and local institutions.11

    Furthermore, in devising a specific framework for the future international order, leaders should survey a broad range of approaches to governance. Rather than being modeled after any single one of the recognized systems of government, the solution may embody, reconcile and assimilate within its framework such wholesome elements as are to be found in each one of them.

    For example, one of the time-tested models of governance that may accommodate the world's diversity within a unified framework is the federal system. Federalism has proved effective in decentralizing authority and decision-making in large, complex, and heterogeneous states, while maintaining a degree of overall unity and stability. Another model worth examining is the commonwealth, which at the global level would place the interest of the whole ahead of the interest of any individual nation.

    Extraordinary care must be taken in designing the architecture of the international order so that it does not over time degenerate into any form of despotism, of oligarchy, or of demagogy corrupting the life and machinery of the constituent political institutions.

  • #2
    Re: A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

    Why, after reading this post, do I see my freedom being painted over with a large brush?

    You describe a fascist totalitarian state sir of which I want no part.
    George Orwell will be turning in his grave!


    • #3
      Re: A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

      "Federalism has proved effective in decentralizing authority and decision-making in large, complex, and heterogeneous states, while maintaining a degree of overall unity and stability."

      Welcome to the "United States Of The World" where the american citizens shoot each other faster than the terrorists can.

      With respect,
      1/ A psychological disorder characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur.

      I think you get the picture, yep, I disagree!


      • #4
        Re: A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

        I understand your concern; I have been discussing it in various forms for(as I say) 50 years.) There have been a series of forms of colllective identity in the last several thousand years: tribe, clan, chieftom, city state, nation and(more recently) federated state(and in Star-Trek) federation of stars/planets. Each stage has been slow in coming and the process of their formation has been long, complex, tortuous and conflict ridden. Let me say one or two things about the process of apologetics which, if you want to continue this dialogue, we will be engaged in:

        I want in this second part of this posting to finish, as best I can, outlining a basic orientation to Baha?i apologetics. Critical scholarly contributions or criticism raised in public or private discussions, an obvious part of apologetics, should not necessarily be equated with hostility. Often questions are perfectly legitimate aspects of a person's search for an answer to an intellectual conundrum. Paul Tillich once expressed the view that apologetics was an "answering theology."(Systematic Theology, U. of Chicago, 1967, Vol.1, p6.)

        I have always been attracted to the founder of the Baha'i Faith's exhortations in discussion to "speak with words as mild as milk," with "the utmost lenience and forbearance." I am also aware that, in cases of rude or hostile attack, rebuttal with a harsher tone may well be justified. It does not help an apologist to belong to those "watchmen" the prophet Isaiah calls "dumb dogs that cannot bark."(Isaiah, 56:10)

        In its essence apologetics is a kind of confrontation, an act of revealing one's true colours, of hoisting the flag, of demonstrating essential characteristics of faith. Dialogue, as Hans Kung puts it, "does not mean self-denial."(quoted by Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics," Baha'i Studies Review, Vol.10, 2001/2) Schaefer goes on: "A faith that is opportunistically streamlined, adapting to current trends, thus concealing its real features, features that could provoke rejection in order to be acceptable for dialogue is in danger of losing its identity."

        It is almost impossible to carry the torch of truth through a crowd without getting someone's beard singed. In the weeks that follow, my postings will probably wind up singing the beards of some readers and, perhaps, my own in the process. Such are the perils of dialogue, of apologetics. Much of Baha'i apologetics derives from the experience Baha'is have of a fundamental discrepancy between secular thought and the Baha'i concepts on the other. In some ways, the gulf is unbridgeable but, so too, is this the case between the secular and much thought in the Christian tradition or, for that matter, between variants of Christianity or secular thought itself. That is why, or at least one of the reasons, I have chosen to make postings at this site. In addition, this topic of global harmony seems to invite debate.

        Anyway, that's all for now. It's back to the summer winds of Tasmania, about 3 kms from the Bass Straight on the Tamar River. The geography of place is so much simpler than that of the spiritual geography readers at this site are concerned with, although even physical geography has its complexities. Whom the gods would destroy they first make simple and simpler and simpler. I look forward to a dialogue with someone. Here in far-off Tasmania--the last stop before Antarctica, if one wants to get there through some other route than off the end of South America--your email will be gratefully received. -Ron Price, Tasmania.


        • #5
          Re: A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

          Apologetics? You can follow and believe in whatever faith you like mate but this is the point I leave this discussion....oh....

          ....and if you want bloodthirsty hostility may I recommend you do some research on the history of christianity! Millions slaughtered in the name of god! No thank you!


          • #6
            Re: A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

            There is no question about the millions slaughtered in the name of god. The problems with this line of argument is that millions have been slaughtered in the name of just about every religion and philosophy on the planet. One would never be an atheist or an agnostic if one judged their philosophies by the people who espouse them. Rape and murder, domestic violence, lieing etc etc. are found in the homes of every conceiveable way of life: golfers, footballers, TV watchers---the list is endless. One does not choose a philosophy or religion( or for that matter an approach to federation) on the basis of the behaviour of their adherents. If one did one would have to stick one's head in the sand and die of lack of oxygen waiting to find the group/phil/religion/line of thought whose members(card carrying or just chaps who think along a certain path) have a standard of beahviour that is exemplary/model. The behaviour of all identifiable groups is always lacking.

            I wish you well in your search and your way, if you don't come back on this one.-Ron


            • #7
              Re: A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

              Ok Ron, so you are not pushing religion but you are extolling the virtues of a single all controlling state by saying that this is the way forward for a world in constant upheaval?
              Out of order comes chaos not usually the other way round.
              For example, I hoover up some house dust to be clean & tidy and to reduce the chaos in my personal space but in doing so I used lots of electricity which is being produced by burning fossil fuels at a power station, butterfly effect, cause and effect, order and chaos, its the way of the world.
              The only way you can bring about a more ordered world is by doing nothing, or at least very little! Nature is very good at that and us humans are rubbish always doing things to excess.
              Al Gore flies around in a private jet telling people to stop wasting energy or we'll all die horribly in a global warming catastrophy.
              Hypocrisy is everywhere.
              What all powerful body would you entrust with this ultra-stable single state world Ron? Not the US in its present form surely but that's what's already being planned by the senate! World domination in the name of god to combat perpetual terrorism, well, thats the latest lame excuse!
              If I'm wrong then by the time it matters, I'll be too old to care, and if I'm right then you'd better start praying to the invisible man up there in the sky because he's the only one who's going to be able to help you!

              Sorry if I sound like a sad case Ron but as I get older and see, hear and understand more of the world around me the less I want to understand. My opinion for what its worth, we made a massive mess down here and we're incapable of clearing it up. Global warming is coming to cleanse the earth of the human virus that infests it, we didn't cause it, how could we be so pretentious, we can't prevent it so the best thing is learn to survive as best we can and learn to live with the changes just like our ancestors did. It may mean living a much simpler life-style though! ...and if we all die in the process then we can always put it down to evolution, its been working fine for the past 4.5 billion years.
              Last edited by Funky; 13th February 2007, 17:17.


              • #8
                Re: A Retired Internationalist: After 50 Years

                Your skepticism, pessimism, perhaps realism is justified and, rather that tackle it point for point which would take a book or two if done well, I will send you a prose-poem I wrote in recent years. It is of some use but, as in all things, it does not tell the whole story. Best wishes down the track....Ron
                THE FIRST RAINS

                In 1841, British historian Thomas Carlyle described "a man's religion" in terms that best illustrate the base from which I have approached my fellow-man since beginning my adult life in 1962. One needs a framework of understanding when one is involved in the many dialogues of life. The Baha'i writings, of course, have a great deal of helpful insights and one can usually find quotations there to help define the kind of perspective with which to approach one's fellow human beings. But the great intellectual tradition in the west has much to offer as well. Carlyle, for example, writes that:

                A man's religion is the chief fact with regard to him.....I do not mean the church-creed which he professes....This is not what I call religion, this profession and assertion....But the thing a man does practically believe...and this is often enough without asserting it even to himself, much less to others; the thing a man does practically lay to heart and know for certain concerning his vital relations to this mysterious universe and his duty and destiny there....This is his religion...his mere skepticism and no-religion....That is in all cases the primary thing for him and creatively determines all the rest. That is what a man is. -Ron Price with thanks to Thomas Carlyle in The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement, Richard Noll, Fontana Press, London, 1996, pp.3-4.

                This is, I think, the inner man
                that many talk about. Meeting
                it is no mean trick-a conundrum
                as often as not...I say, I say...

                I know I did not have the trick
                back at the start, a young bloke
                out on the weekend trying to
                make it pay, as the song says.
                I was trying to get my own
                emotional life sorted out, then.

                By the age of thirty I got
                a handle on it, though,
                and they made me a tutor
                in human relations in Tasmania.
                Things were looking good.

                I don't think I ever lost it
                after that, by the '70s in
                Australia somewhere, but
                in some ways that was just
                a start. It helped to plant
                seeds, but the soil was black
                and dried and these were
                only the first rains,
                the quickening.

                Ron Price
                29 December 2001