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Opinion Editorials, December 2011


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Sources of Major World Problems:

Capitalism, Corporations, Corrupt Politicians  

By Charles Mercieca

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 8, 2011

            When people face a problem there are generally two ways that may be adopted to hopefully reach a successful outcome. One of these ways will enable us to solve the problem we face on a permanent basis, that is, in a way that such a problem will not likely to ever surface again. The other way, which seems to have been quite dominant in history to this very day, will enable us to bring the problem under control in a number of ways but never on a permanent basis.
Two Distinct Approaches
            In order to comprehend the nature of these two approaches to the solution of a problem we come across, it would be better to start with the illustration of an example. Let us imagine there is a nice hall in town, which people tend to use every now and then to hold some special event. Just a few days before the event, some committee members visit this hall to make sure everything is in order and under control. They soon discover that there has been some water on the floor and the furniture was not in place.
            Needless to say, they proceed to dry the water away and put the furniture in order after which they return home satisfied looking anxiously forward for the projected event. The day before, they double-check the hall again and they find everything was in perfect order the way they had arranged it. However, they do discover some water scattered here and there on the floor. Of course, without hesitation they dried it up and everything was ready to go. In fact, the following day the event went smoothly and every participant was fully satisfied.
            This was one way of solving the problem on the spare of the moment. Unfortunately, this has been the dominant approach adopted throughout the centuries when quite a number of people were faced with a problem. They use methods that would solve the problem fast and smooth visibly on the surface for the specified time that was needed. In fact, other groups in the past that needed to use this same hall did experience the same problem and they all tended to adopt the same approach for a solution.
            The stated solution of the problem involved was based on an approach that would enable us to overcome the obstacle of water on the floor simply by wiping it out properly and effectively. If the problem we face anywhere in the world keeps on being repeated that would mean that we have to get to the source that causes such an involved problem to take place over and over again. Our first step is to think and meditate while raising to ourselves seriously the question: Where did such water come from in the first place? Was there any leak somewhere, like from a pipe or even the roof?
Getting to the Source
            If, say, we find out the leak was in the roof, then we need to go on the top of the roof and cement the crack or small hole from where the water was coming.
Once we block the very source of the problem, we may feel virtually certain that such a problem of finding water on the floor of the involved hall will not likely ever to be repeated again. This would be the best and most effective way to solve a problem on a permanent basis, no matter how long it may take us. As we may fully realize, our world is literally saturated with serious problems.
            There is surely one thing that all people from every walk of life and profession have strongly in common. No one would like to be confronted with problems of any kind whatsoever. Problems tend to create tension which may lead to high blood pressure. They tend to make us lose our inner joy and the full power of concentration when we are in the process of doing something that is especially positive and constructive. Besides, problems in general tend to be a nuisance, something that is generally undesirable.
            Some 2,500 years ago, Greek philosopher Socrates underlined the fact that we are capable of solving any problem in life we come across provided, he added, we take seriously the first step.  What is the first step? He said this would be to bring the problem into the open for everyone to see because, he continued, unless people are aware of the existence of a problem they will do nothing to bring it under control. History has shown that when people become aware of a serious problem, they would do anything to solve it fearlessly.
However, he stressed, once the people become aware of the existence of a problem, they will immediately begin to figure out how such problem may eventually affect them. And once they see that with clarity action is immediately taken and the problem is solved.  Since then, Socrates has been fully vindicated century after century with no exceptions whatsoever. It is good that we talk about problems and try to discuss them the best we can. Yet, if we do not take positive and constructive actions nothing should be expected to happen.
If we were to visit every single major country in the world we would soon discover that people share similar problems, regardless of their background, nationality, cultural heritage, philosophical orientation and religious profession. And if we were to go to the very source of all major problems we would quickly see with crystal clarity that, on the whole, their respective government emerges to become the real source of all their headaches. This reason is very simple and fully clear. While the job of the government is to serve the people, in practice such a government makes it a point to boss the people around.
Violence Replacing Diplomacy
            This governmental approach has been the source of enormous suffering that has resulted in so many people being poor and homeless as well as being deprived of adequate health care, if any at all. Besides, people are deprived ruthlessly from most of their sacrosanct human rights, which includes free education from the cradle to the grave. A government that provides such an element to its own people is enabling its nation to be fully developed as to become highly constructive in all national endeavors.
            People of all nations do not want their government to resort to wars to solve human differences. Yet, as we have witnessed in history, the people are fully ignored and wars are waged that always end up with tragic consequences. This means people are forced to experience unnecessarily that in a war everyone is a loser and no one is a winner. Today we have reached a point in history where conventional wars do not make sense any longer. It has been predicted that World War II might have been the last conventional war in human history.
            We all remember the so called 9/11 attack on New York and Washington, DC in 2001. The attackers did not represent any government. They consisted merely of 19 young men, mostly from Saudi Arabia, whose only major war equipment they carried consisted mostly of a few knives. These are described as terrorists who do not carry any badge or identification. On the other hand, the USA, which was trained in conventional wars, invaded Afghanistan and demolished the structure of cities while killing thousands of innocent people.
            As though this was not enough, the USA invaded Iraq under false pretences where tens of thousands of innocent people were massacred, in addition to causing some 2 million refugees, while creating thousands of orphans. Nowadays the real enemy consists merely of a handsome of young individuals who want to take matters in hand since they feel their respective government is eventually corrupt and cannot do things right for the people. The best way to deal with future enemies of this type is through education.
            Let us here bring to our mind the preamble of UNESCO, which states: Since wars being in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. Of course, we cannot expect to solve the manifold problems we face overnight. We have to educate a new generation that views the entire world as its “native-land,” as Roman philosopher Seneca advocated in the first century. In fact he insisted saying: We will have a permanent world peace when we educate all of our children to look at the world and say: ‘Omnis orbs terrarium patria mea est – the whole world is my native land.’
Importance of Global Community
            Since Seneca made such a statement, 2,000 years have passed and there has never been a sizeable period of world peace. All of these 20 centuries that passed since then have been characterized by struggles and wars that inflicted suffering and death on several millions of innocent people. Confronted with this reality we should not be discouraged. We still have a chance, an opportunity to turn things around fast and smooth to the best we can. Recent events across the USA and other countries have been a gigantic step in the right direction.
            We are referring here to the “occupy” peaceful protests where highly concerned citizens demonstrate in front of governmental buildings as well as in squares and parks. People want to show that the time for continued suppression of their sacrosanct human rights is over. If we were to make a careful study of the human rights in virtually every major country we would soon discover that there is hardly one nation in the world that literally respects human rights, not just on the surface by words but especially in practice as evidenced in actions.
            Ironically, the United States is perhaps the most vocal country in the world that condemns violations of human rights as they occur from time to time. This is good and quite encouraging. The only tragedy we witness here lies in the fact that in its own territory, the USA does not practice what it preaches to others. For example, the USA was quick to condemn the brutal ways that were used recently in such countries as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria against young people who protested peacefully the tyranny they have experienced for years.
            When recently American young men and women demonstrated in New York and other cities to protest the way the poor and the middle class were exploited by US corporations, hundreds of police dressed with helmets and full military equipment went to confront these peaceful demonstrators. They went like they were soldiers going after their enemies to destroy them if that were needed. In fact, they hand-cuffed and arrested several of them without mercy. They also sprayed pepper on them that some of them could hardly see.
            When students in California gathered peacefully to protest the exorbitant fees increase of their university that would make it literally impossible to finish their studies, hundreds of police went to confront them dressed in helmets like they constituted a part of the military. These police, directed by local government officials, used violence against these innocent and harmless students that injured quite a number of them. These American police were no more or less brutal than the police in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria in addition to a few other countries that we witnessed in recent times.
Safeguard of Human Rights
While the US government condemns the brutalities of police against peaceful demonstrators in other countries, it condones and even instigates such police brutalities against peaceful demonstrators in its own territory. The sole purpose of the United States to have hundreds of military bases around the world is not to bring freedom and democracy to other nations. All these elements serve merely as instruments for the USA to police the whole world and to control it in any way possible.
As stated earlier, the job of the government is to serve the people and not to boss them around. To this end, the government must listen periodically to what the people have to say especially relative to their imminent vital needs. One of the best documents on human rights is the United Nations Charter on Human Rights.  In spite of this, there is hardly any country that observes fully well this well-written and inspired charter. Let us quote a few examples for us to realize what has been stated with great clarity.
In accordance with this UN document, all human beings have a sacrosanct right to move around freely anywhere they wish in the world. Yet, a number of governments, the USA included, prevent their people from visiting a number of countries. For example, Americans are not allowed to visit Cuba, their peaceful neighbor and quite a few other countries. By way of contrast, Canadians are not prohibited by their government to visit any nation of their choice. Needless to say, when people travel they need to have some kind of identification.
The most common identification that has been used for centuries is known as the passport. In spite of this, for many countries, a valid passport is not enough. Unless they issue you with the so called “visa” you are not free to visit your chosen nation even if you have many friends there. If this were a matter of routine or a means of making an extra income, since one has to pay a fee to secure the visa, then perhaps we may close our eyes. But in a number of instances, the visa is mysteriously denied.
We are especially referring to the refusal of issuing a visa to teachers whose sole purpose to travel is to participate in an international academic conference or even a global peace convention. These are all governmental blatant violations of human rights. It would be appropriate if we were to make serious studies relative to what motivates governments to violate constantly and systematically the human rights of so many people in general. Among possible reasons we may enlist ignorance, indifference, paranoia, irresponsibility, prejudice, stubbornness, machismo, stupidity and abuse, in addition to others.
Eventual Control of World Problems
            The tremendous violations of human rights we witness periodically in the world at large are too many to enumerate. However, it would be appropriate if we were to study the violations of human rights in every single country while trying to pin point with clarity their very source so that we may go after it and block it for good. Since power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, we cannot have the same people in government for the rest of their lives. We have to devise a plan to have people in government for only a fixed time.
            This is important because even if those in government happen to be good people initially, they will eventually, sooner or later, begin to demonstrate the symptoms of eventual corruption as time rolls on. Let us also keep in mind what Blessed Pope John Paul II said in Mexico during the decade of the eighties when asked as to whether he thought world peace was possible. He said: Yes but only after two great evils of the 20th century are gone: communism and capitalism, because they both advance their causes through the exploitation of people.
            Some leading political scientists tell us that if we were to eliminate all of the evil of communism and capitalism and try to preserve anything good we may possibly find in these two systems, we may hopefully create a viable and desirable government for all people to have and to cherish. This would involve the election of all governmental officials where the news media will bring systematic news about all those running for office free-of-charge. This would also involve that all people will have free health care and free education for life.
            After all, the people are the backbone of the nation. If they are healthy and well educated we will surely have a strong nation. If people are unhealthy and barely educated then we will have a weak nation. This type of government may be referred to by a number of names including such names as social democracy or democratic socialism. This will certainly bring to an end the monopoly that that big corporations have on government officials whose job nowadays ceased to serve the people but to boss them around.


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education,
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
Hon President & Professor, SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich




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