Thursday, December 25, 2008

Stewing over World Government

Santa Patrol

By John Taylor; 2008 Dec 25, 14 Masa'il 165 BE

Last night was Christmas eve. The kids got it into their heads to establish an all-night "Santa Patrol" to catch the jolly guy in the act and persuade him to sign a pile of contracts and then invite him to a play that they had been writing and rehearsing all day for Christmas. I overheard them as they worked out one hour shifts and at one point nine-year-old Tomaso said to Silvie, "You do believe in Santa don't you?" My fourteen-year daughter replied, "Yes, but not in the way you believe in him."

Mom was off reading by herself, and I was in the study watching Tom Hanks in "Charlie Wilson's War." Every few minutes Tomaso would come in to give a report on his patrol. When midnight drew near I commented that maybe Santa will just decide not to come this year and instead just give their presents to some poor kid in the Third World. They were tired enough that this persuaded them without further argument, though Silvie protested weakly, "Yes, but there is only one world. There is no Third World. I caught Tata out on a blooper." I agreed that I had made a mistake, contradicting Baha'u'llah Himself, as I ushered them into their beds.

Sometimes when Tomaso cannot sleep and even Momka has failed to lull him off, I slip into his lower bunk and in pitch dark recite the Tablet of Ahmad. Sometimes one recital of the prayer is enough, but other times I have to say it twice and even thrice before the tedium puts him to sleep. This time I reclined in bed but was not moved to begin saying the prayer. The film I had just seen worried me. I just lay there stewing over the state of the world. The next year or so, some are saying, will the most important in history. Do we have a chance? It did not take long for Tomaso to drop off to sleep, but the worries continued...

Charlie Wilson was not the typical hero that Tom Hanks chooses to make a film about. Wilson was the playboy senator who took on the mission to get effective weapons into the hands of Afghani resistance fighters after the Soviet invasion. Wilson was a no-account pleasure seeker, womanizer and coke user with no record of success. That is why the Soviets underestimated him badly. When he saw the horrors the Soviets had done to helpless civilians he spent every minute for ten years advocating on their behalf. After the Soviets left, though, he failed to arouse any interest at all on the part of the American government in helping get the Afghanistan economy back onto its feet.

Which is why the ill results of the Afghanistan blunder remain to this day. The film begins and ends with Charlie Wilson receiving special recognition from the American "clandestine community." And the Monty Python crew thought they were making a joke when they called their reviews the "Secret Policeman's Ball" and, a few years later, "The Secret Policeman's Other Ball."

I find this horribly depressing. There is no support anywhere for a world government, which is the only real solution to the present problems. The only thing that can get people moving are violent causes, like arming the freedom fighters of Afghanistan, that only make things worse. Much worse. Where are the heroes and freedom fighters for a world commonwealth? Why is nobody arising to do the only thing that will get us out of this pickle?

What could Charlie Wilson have done to establish real peace? How about going and talking to the Soviets and Afghanis and talking them out of violence? Or if he had campaigned against war spending in his own government? Would any of that have worked? Maybe if he had the moral force of a Gandhi, or the verve of a Churchill. Probably he would have got nothing done. It all seems pointless. Peace is a lost cause. As Baha'u'llah wrote,

"Methinks ye are as dead, wrapped in the coverings of your own selves." (Summons, 231)

This relatively hopeful sentence lately appeared in the Financial Times of London:

"So, it seems, everything is in place. For the first time since homo sapiens began to doodle on cave walls, there is an argument, an opportunity and a means to make serious steps towards a world government."

Then it fizzles and the author buries himself in the same pessimistic vision of where we are really going that so discourages me.

"... making progress on global governance will be slow sledding. Even in the EU -- the heartland of law-based international government -- the idea remains unpopular. The EU has suffered a series of humiliating defeats in referendums, when plans for ever-closer union have been referred to the voters. In general, the Union has progressed fastest when far-reaching deals have been agreed by technocrats and politicians -- and then pushed through without direct reference to the voters. International governance tends to be effective only when it is anti-democratic." (Gideon Rachman, "And Now for a World Government," Dec 8, 2008,>

The people can only support what they know, and they are unlikely to support world government as long as it has never been tried out. The people have blinders; they see only what is old, never what is new. When Abdu'l-Baha said that we have already suffered thousands of years of war, why not try peace? He was hitting the nail on the head. We cannot possibly hope for a democratic push to peace as long as peace is unknown and untried. Plato's parable of the ship's captain applies. Only an expert seaman can sail the ship through a storm. If they oust him from authority and start taking votes about what to do next in a storm, the whole ship is as good as doomed. That is what I feel, a complete sense of doom. Unless millions of people start making radical changes to their sense of identity, we are all in for it. As that article says,

"The world's most pressing political problems may indeed be international in nature, but the average citizen's political identity remains stubbornly local. Until somebody cracks this problem, that plan for world government may have to stay locked away in a safe at the UN."

John Taylor



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi John! The darkest hour is just before the dawn. Hang in there, Johnny boy!

Good news rarely gets reported. The greatest tranformations always happen within us, like the germinating seed or the chrysalis, and then suddenly a sea change!

If someone would have said there would be a black US president elected in my lifetime I would have LOL but so now its recorded history. World government is only a breath away.

The silence about it, I believe, is that the powers to be wish to claim credit for the whole idea, so they are not showing their cards until the opportune moment.

I am very glad that you have written so much about all the positive Baha'i principles revealed by Baha'u'llah relating to world unity and world government. Keep up the good work in 2009.

You are much appreciated, my friend.