From the August 2004 Idaho Observer:
Strengthening human beings
by Don Harkins
Civilization is once again at crossroads where life as we know it depends upon what world leaders decide common people should do to each other. Because groups of people are easily frightened into hating, fearing or distrusting other groups, they can be counted on to follow their leaders wherever they are told to go. This simple dynamic underlies 8,000 years of human social and political interaction. Until the common man is equipped to make decisions based on knowledge rather than fear, he is doomed to repeat the cycles of war, death, destruction, famine, sickness, oppression and misery that have defined the human condition throughout the history of civilization thus far. Our mission, therefore, is not to overtly topple governments -- governments have been toppling for thousands of years with no real progress in ending the cycles indicated above. Governments past and present are designed to service ignorance and promote the erection of institutions that capitalize on our tendencies toward fear, greed, cowardice and mass-mindedness. Our mission is to strengthen human beings so that governments of the future will serve the needs of knowledgeable, virtuous and compassionate individuals capable of creating and maintaining societies that honor human dignity.
Modern travel and communications technologies have provided people all over the world with the means to meet one another face to face and share with each other their experiences. Once people from differing races, religions and cultures get to know each other and are able to discuss openly their views on subjects of mutual concern, it is discovered that we all have common problems -- and it's not each other's differences that are the cause of conflicts between groups.
It's our similarities that create the platform upon which leaders are able to prosper at the expense of ordinary people. Because people prefer to defer responsibility for their lives to experts, decisions are made in a manner most likely to serve the interests of the lawyers, government agencies, doctors and clergymen whose expertise we employ to counsel us in various areas critical to our own lives.
We are currently experiencing the repercussions of societies that have deferred individual responsibilities to experts: Our air, land and sea are being poisoned at tremendous profit to chemical companies; organized medicine has become a trillion-dollar-a-year industry while killing more people in the last decade than were killed in all U.S. wars combined; lawyer/legislators have made so many laws that most human activities are now licensed, regulated and/or subject to fines or imprisonment and; spiritual and moral values have become so confused that the difference between right and wrong is no longer determined by scripture, universal principles or common sense but based upon whatever code of conduct one chooses (or is forced) to follow.
And what has come out of this deferring of responsibility -- this reliance on expertise? Institutions that once celebrated the dignity of the common man -- churches, schools, parks and museums -- are crumbling under the weight of war, strife, sickness, poverty, pestilence and disease.
From weakness to strength
Since becoming part of the Mut zur Ethik family last year, I have become preoccupied with the thought of how we can change the human channel by replacing perpetual war and misery with cooperative peace and prosperity.
Swiss Psychologist Annemarie Bucholz, the matriarch of Mut zur Ethik (which directly translates to Courage to the Ethics or Courage to take a Moral Stand), a lady for whom I have come to have tremendous respect, has dedicated her life to strengthening human beings.
If future human societies are to overcome the will of despots they must collectively be plucked from the muck of weakness, ignorance and dependence and delivered into a state of strength, knowledge and self-reliance. In the face of this development it has become urgently necessary to encourage people in all countries to give themselves a voice by coming together in value-oriented groups. Only from within a community of common interests can citizens principally defend that which is most important to them: The family, a solid education, a drug-free neighborhood, the protection of life (including the struggle against malicious trends to introduce euthanasia), self-supply on a healthy basis, peace and justice among men, the protection of human dignity and life in a true democracy* (not one that has disintegrated into a Roman circus of money, power and manipulation), wrote Bucholz in an essay entitled Strengthening Human Beings (Zurich, April 7, 2000).
Innate social interest
Bucholz uses the work of Psychologist Alfred Adler (1870-1927) as a foundation for her understanding of human beings. Adler, who termed his approach Individualpsychologie (or personality theory) operated from the premise that the creative powers of the self create an individual's personality and that a person's lifestyle is the manifestation of those powers.
Bucholz (and Adler before her) believe that individuals are born with an innate interest in social ties and a desire to contribute toward the well-being of others. It is the process of how the creative self learns to deal with outside influences that determine whether or not social interest is encouraged or discouraged in the individual.
Discouraging social interest
In Switzerland, America and other nations around the world we can see how an illusion of democracy (or republican form of government) is provided to the people who continue voting even though they are increasingly aware that real decisions are being made without public knowledge or consent.
Perhaps the most overt mechanism by which our innate social interests are discouraged is the silencing of our political voices through pretended elections and being forced against one's will to obey mandates that are not in the best interests of one's community. When one gets the message there is nothing he can do, the tendency is to begin doing nothing. Bucholz observed that, ...When citizens turn their backs on political activity, overcome by feelings of impotence....this is a sign of an unhealthy state of inner resignation.
Lack of interest fuels war, oppression, injustice
Though obviously not at the level identified by Adler, the Founding Fathers recognized self-governing people must be participating members of a decentralized government empowered to serve the needs of citizens at the community level. Bucholz observed that people are strengthened when they become active in a politically useful manner....and have an impact on matters which are most important to them.
As the world is currently unfolding, governments are moving as quickly as they can to weaken people as a means of maximizing their megalomaniacal /imperialistic/materialistic intentions. People of the world are, at this time, being ravaged physically, politically, socially and spiritually because their political voices have been silenced in areas that really matter.
We now recognize that the energies harvested from our weaknesses fuel the engines of war, injustice and oppression. Conversely, we must also recognize that supporting and encouraging our innate social interest to grow in ourselves, our children and our countrymen, is the means whereby we can reinvent our world to give us what we want -- which, for most of us, is to simply have a decent life and a healthy environment in which to raise our children.
Support your local social interest
Because older generations are gone and newer generations have no one to teach them, modern Americans have forgotten how to take charge of vital areas of their lives. Following is a list of three things for which we must resume responsibility in our own lives and take responsibility for teaching young children:
1. Health, nutrition: We must adopt a holistic view of our mind/body/spirit so we are qualified to demand that we, not the state, are responsible for ourselves and our children.
2. Duties in civil government: We must be active and informed politically, understand the history of the relationships between people and governments, the common law, one's power as a juror and the limited influence government should be allowed to have over our lives.
3. Right and wrong: All the major religions of the world advocate the same basic principles of acceptable conduct; we must observe them and treat all people and their property with respect.
* I have personally discussed the term democracy with several MZE members from the American perspective that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for lunch. However, the Swiss have a slightly different history with democracy. The Swiss form of national government, which has worked very well for its citizens for 160 years, is called a direct democracy. In a direct democracy, the people are encouraged from childhood to be knowledgeable and participatory in political affairs. As adults, they are then empowered to decide what the government can and cannot do by voting in an informed and intelligent manner.
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12th Mut zur Ethik Conference
Giving Inner Courage: Democracy, Values, Education and Dialogue
Many IO readers will remember that last September our editor Don Harkins spoke at the 11th annual Mut zur Ethik conference in Feldkirch, Austria. He was invited to speak again and to participate in two weeks of discussions among some 40 people who come from all over the world each year to share their insights into how the human family may go about solving its common problems. Last year Don gave a presentation regarding the strategies one can employ to disseminate vital information through effective pamphleteering. This year he will discuss how the wars of the 21st century are being waged inside our bodies.
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