Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: A Unifying Peoples Project

With a population of 118 million (expected to top 200 million by the end of 2049) Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa. 70% (c.80 million) are under thirty, the median age being just 20.
The majority of people live in rural areas where infrastructure is poor or non-existent: around 67 million are currently without electricity; for millions of others (including in the capital, Addis Ababa) the supply is inconsistent, with frequent power cuts, 62 million, according to the WHO Joint Monitoring Programme, do not have access to safe drinking water (7.5% of the global water crisis is in Ethiopia); farmers are routinely hit by floods or drought, millions are food insecure.
In an attempt to address these basic needs, some would say rights, in 2011, Ethiopia revised plans first drawn up in the 1950s, and began constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Owned by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO), the $5 billion “Peoples’ Project” has been largely funded by the Ethiopian government through the sale of government bonds, together with donations from Ethiopian citizens together with an initial investment by China of around 30%.
Situated in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuz (about 40 km from the Sudan border) on the Blue Nile, the dam is 80% complete, and to the jubilation of Ethiopians everywhere the reservoir has been part filled (in 2020 5 billion m3 – total capacity is 74 billion m3) for the second year in succession.
The GERD is the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa (the seventh largest in the world), it harnesses water from the Blue Nile and will provide millions of Ethiopians with secure electricity and a reliable water supply. The Blue Nile is the major tributary of The Nile: it flows from Lake Tana (the largest lake in Ethiopia) in the Ethiopian Highlands and supplies 86% of the great river’s water. Despite this fact, it is Egypt and Sudan that use almost the entire flow.
Since its inception, Egypt and Sudan, with political support from the U.S., Britain and Co., have attempted to derail the project and maintain their historic control over the Nile, which both countries depend on. In the early days there was even talk, by Egyptian leaders, of war, and in March 2021, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi stated hyperbolically: “No one can take a drop of water from Egypt… If it happens, there will be inconceivable instability in the region that no one could imagine. This is not a threat.” To their credit the Ethiopian government, which holds all the Nile cards, has ignored such inflammatory rhetoric, and persevered with the work of construction. When the project was first announced in 2011 the Ethiopian government invited Egypt and Sudan to form an International Panel of Experts (IPoE) to understand the benefits, costs and impacts of the GERD. The recommendations made by the IPoE, however, were not adopted.
For decades, access to and control of the life-giving waters of The Nile has been governed by various unfair agreements dating back to British colonial rule (Egypt and Sudan were both British colonies). 1902, 1929 and 1959 agreements all gave control of the Nile to Egypt and Sudan, primarily Egypt. The 1959 agreement allocated 75% of the total flow of the Nile to Egypt and 25% to Sudan, and nothing at all to Ethiopia, not a drop.
Enraged by these lop-sided, antiquated “agreements” in May 2010, the upstream states of the Nile (including Ethiopia) signed a Cooperative Framework Agreement pronouncing the 1959 Treaty dead in the water, and claiming rights to more of the river’s bounty. Egypt and Sudan, unwilling to share what they had hoarded for decades, refused to sign. As a result of this intransigence no mutually acceptable agreement between upstream and downstream countries exists, and Egypt and Sudan worried, they say, about water security, have consistently argued against the project.
Egypt in particular has been pushing for a legally binding agreement on the operation of the GERD and the filling of the reservoir. At the request of Tunisia the matter was recently heard at the UN Security Council (UNSC), a completely inappropriate forum for such a topic: the Security Council is set up to establish and maintain international peace and security (something it has serially failed to do), not intervene in development issues, and the GERD is a development project. Negotiations are set to continue under the auspices of the African Union, and early signs are more positive. Ethiopia’s willingness to work towards an agreement (not a legal requirement) is in itself an act of goodwill, and augers well. Any agreement must reject totally the colonial constructs and recognize that Ethiopia has a right to utilize the natural resources that lie within its territory, a right that has been denied for generations.
A vital resource
The GERD is badly needed, it will play a significant part in reducing poverty and transforming the country. Among the many potential benefits to Ethiopia, it will quadruple the amount of electricity produced, providing millions of people with access to electricity for the first time while allowing surplus electricity to be exported to neighbouring states, generating national income. It will provide clean water, which will lower the spread of illness, provide decent drinking water to those who currently have none, and irrigate 1.2 million acres of arable land – helping to create successful harvests, therefore reducing or eliminating food shortages.
All dams have an impact on the natural environment and surrounding ecosystems, and the GERD is no exception. However, while solar and wind are the ideal, hydroelectric dams are preferable to nuclear or fossil fuel power plants and the broader positive effects are potentially substantial. Without electricity, millions of people burn wood or dry dung to cook with. This causes de-forestation and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as respiratory illnesses. As electricity is generated and supplied, these practices, which are embedded in many communities and have been followed for generations, can be dropped, resulting in a decrease in GHG emissions, the revitalization of natural habitat, and enable dung to be used as a fertilizer by farmers.
The dam will also help manage the impact of climate change by providing consistent water flow. Not only for Ethiopia, but also for downstream countries (particularly Sudan) that are frequently hit by drought or flooding. As Meles Zenawi (Ethiopian PM when construction began) said, “when the dam becomes operational, communities all along the riverbanks and surrounding areas, particularly in Sudan, will be permanently relieved from centuries of flooding.”
The GERD is rightly a source of national pride, a unifying symbol in a dangerously divided country and an essential resource if the country is to move into a new phase of economic and social development. Its successful completion is a significant achievement, and reaffirms Ethiopia’s place as a major regional power, not just within the Horn of Africa, but the continent as a whole. Once the dam is fully operational, Ethiopia will once again become a beacon of hope and empowerment to other nations in Africa, many of which have lived under the shadow of poverty, conflict and external control for far too long.
A powerful Ethiopia however, is something neither Egypt or “the West”, meaning the U.S. and her allies, welcome. Ethiopia has been a thorn in their imperialist side for centuries; never colonized by force, fiercely proud and independent with a rich diverse culture. An example to nations throughout the continent, Ethiopia and the Ethiopian flag have long been a symbol of defiance for other African countries, many of which incorporated the colors of the Ethiopia flag (red, yellow, and green) into their own.
This is a crucial moment in Ethiopia’s long history; the country has just staged its first democratic elections, which should be seen as extremely positive, but millions are displaced and armed conflicts in Tigray and elsewhere continue. Ethiopians are faced with a choice: unite and prosper or withdraw into ethnic rivalries and fall into further conflict and discord. While there are those inside and outside the country that are fanning the flames of division, hatred and fear, the vast majority yearn for peace and social harmony. It is these voices that must prevail if this wonderful country is to flower once again.
https://www.nationofchange.org/2021/07/24/ethiopian-renaissance-dam-a-unifying-peoples-project/

“Stop Interfering”: Ethiopia’s Opportunity After the Election

Despite ongoing violence in the northern region of Tigray, persistent attempts to de-rail the process and cries of catastrophe by western powers (most notably the US) and mainstream media, on the 21 June Ethiopia conducted its first ever democratic elections.
The mechanics of the election were not perfect, but crucially there were no reports of violence and the (independent) National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) claims that turnout was good. Although some opposition parties complained about the voting process (which the NEBE is investigating), African Union observers found that, the elections were “conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner”.
Due to conflict or logistical issues around 20% of the country (100 of 547 constituencies) did not take part, with the exception of Tigray these areas will vote in September. The election is a major milestone in the recent history of the country and the movement towards a more democratic form of governance.
To the surprise of nobody the government (The Prosperity Party), under the leadership of PM Abiy Ahmed, won an overwhelming victory. The full results are yet to be released, but signs suggest the incumbent may have taken all 547 parliamentary seats; however, in a positive move, PM Abiy has said he will invite members of opposition parties to participate in forming a new government. While total dominance is regrettable and unhealthy, it does place responsibility and opportunity firmly with the government, as well as unavoidable accountability.
Meddling Allies
The country is beset with a range of serious problems, the task before the government is daunting, the priorities clear. Firstly and essentially, establishing peace – nothing can be achieved unless the ongoing conflict in Tigray between TPLF forces and the military, and ethnic violence in other areas is brought to an end. The humanitarian fall-out of the Tigray war must be urgently addressed: over 131,000 (according to IOM UN Migration) have been displaced in the region, taking the total number of internally displaced persons to over two million, and millions require food aid.
Overall numbers and intensity of need are disputed; the UN estimates that up to five million people in Tigray are facing starvation, but the Ethiopian government has dismissed such numbers as “alarmist”. Contrary to reports in western media, that federal forces have sabotaged aid convoys, deliveries of food aid made by the World Food Programme (WFO) have been disrupted by TPLF forces inside the region. The deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, Demeke Mekonen, has said that in the first round of humanitarian response “effort was made to reach out to 4.5 million people in the Tigray region through the delivery of food and non-food items. In the second and third rounds, the relief efforts were able to reach out to 5.2 million people.”
Establishing verifiable, reliable information in a war zone, where access is restricted, is difficult, nigh impossible; it is a mystery how western media and assertive commentators routinely make statements (that circulate and are repeated from one outlet to another until taken as fact) about the situation inside Tigray and other parts of the country without having been there, or in many cases, spoken to people inside the country. A point that is not lost on many Ethiopians.
The African Union (AU) has launched a commission of inquiry into the conflict, and a joint investigation by Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) is also underway. Currently an agreed ceasefire is in place in Tigray and TPLF forces are in control of the regional capital Mekelle. If the people of Tigray want to be governed by the TPLF, as it appears they do, then as PM Abiy has suggested, they will soon see if that is a wise decision.
The welcome lull in fighting may create potential for discussions between the two sides, however distasteful this may be to both government and populace. To the fury of Ethiopians, home and abroad, in addition to sanctions and withholding aid (the US and EU), ‘talks’ are something western powers, most notably the US, have been calling for over past months: In March 2021 Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Relations Committee that “we need to get an independent investigation into what took place there, and we need some kind of…. reconciliation process.” “Reconciliation” with the TPLF, who terrorized the country for 27 years and are rightly despised throughout Ethiopia?
In response to US sanctions and lectures the Ethiopian government said, “if such a resolve to meddle in our internal affairs and undermining the century-old bilateral ties continues unabated, the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will be forced to reassess its relations with the U.S., which might have implications beyond our bilateral relationship.” The level of condescension and interference displayed by the US and others has angered many Ethiopians.
The TPLF, regarded by the Ethiopian government and much of the populace as terrorists, were, and apparently remain the favored force of western powers. They ruled Ethiopia from 1992 to 2018 under the guise of a coalition , before collapsing under the weight of sustained protests in 2018. A totalitarian, unforgiving regime the TPLF ruled through fear and ethnic division. Corrupt to the core they syphoned off federal funds, divided communities along ethnic lines, committed state terrorism and Crimes against Humanity in a number of regions to a variety of ethnic groups.
Western powers supported the TPLF throughout their violent reign, notably the USA and the UK (with money and political legitimacy), and seem intent on levering them back into office and curtailing Ethiopia’s rise as a regional independent power. ‘Stop interfering in a sovereign state’ is the message loud and clear from Ethiopians of all regions, except Tigrayans; a message delivered at protests in Washington DC and at the recent G7 gathering in Britain that went unreported by mainstream media, who focused their coverage solely on the ‘humanitarian situation’ in Tigray (of which they appear to know little), ignoring the passionate cries against interference.
Mainstream media (including the BBC, CNN, The Guardian – which recently published a widely inaccurate piece about Tigray – Al Jazeera, VOA etc) is rightly regarded as a propaganda tool of western governments. The coverage of the election was broadly negative, slanted to echo the western/US agenda of delay. A key voice in this subversive effort is well known to Ethiopians; Susan Rice was US ambassador to the UN (2009-2013) and Obama’s national security adviser from 2013-2017. She has been ‘advising’, i.e., lobbying the Biden administration on behalf of the TPLF mafia, who she, and Obama, supported. The US (the worlds biggest arms dealer) appears to now be arming the ‘rebels’, via the military dictatorship of Egypt – the primary western voice-piece in the region.
Ethiopia’s potential
Ethiopia is going through a difficult, but potentially exciting time of transition, from serial dictatorship to some form of democracy. A system that observes human rights and allows universal freedoms including freedom of speech, unlike under the TPLF. However, there are a range of disruptive, subversive elements intent on derailing any democratic development, some of which sit firmly within the government and need to be purged. There are also malicious external forces that would see Ethiopia split, and ethnic division run wild: Egypt and Sudan are anxious and, one suspects, shocked by and envious of the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam (the largest in Africa), and of Ethiopia’s potential strength and influence within the region and continent. And, angered by the country’s historic independence – it was never colonized, ejecting the Italians twice, 1896 and 1941 – jealous of its rich, ancient culture (dating to at least 3000BC), and nervous about China’s involvement in the country (and continent), the old European colonial powers and the decaying force of the US, apparently do not want Ethiopia to flourish, and would be happy to keep the country enslaved to western aid, as it was under the TPLF.
As the country attempts to move forward it needs friends, not nominal allies whose actions are corrupted by self-interest, arrogance and resentment; nations (USA, UK and EU chiefly) that stood by for decades watching the TPLF murder, torture and steal, and declared corrupt elections legitimate. Such voices have little credibility in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian people are desperate for change, for peace and stability; they have given The Prosperity Party under the leadership of Abiy Ahmed a huge mandate to govern: as their term in office begins they will be closely watched, by Ethiopians at home and abroad. To unite a country that has been systematically divided over decades will take time, skill and patience. Mistakes will inevitably be made, but if the intent is sound and honesty is demonstrated, trust can be built and divisions will gradually begin to collapse.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/07/09/stop-interfering-ethiopias-opportunity-after-the-election/

Race to Net Zero Emissions: Are We Ready?

‘Net Zero Emissions’ is the new political slogan, chanted by governments and business leaders desperate to be seen to be taking the environmental emergency seriously.
Of the nations pledging to hit zero greenhouse gas emissions (GGE) no later than 2050, twenty have legal commitments to do so (Sweden, Austria, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Denmark, European Union, Fiji, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Slovenia, United Kingdom), another twenty countries, including the USA, are drafting policy documents, leaving 100, including China, talking it over.
Many suspect that, like other catchy lyrics, the net zero song governments and corporations are singing lacks substance, and that corporate politicians with their short-sighted policies, have no intention of taking the radical steps needed. Interviewed by the BBC, US climate envoy, John Kerry recently dismissed suggestions that changes in American lifestyle and reductions to the colossal levels of consumption, including large amounts of animal produce, were needed, saying, “You don’t have to give up quality of life to achieve some of the things we want to achieve.” The American public (and presumably the overindulgent everywhere), according to Kerry, can have their cake and eat it.
Habitual irresponsible consumerism by rich, comfortably off nations, is the underlying cause of the environmental emergency, including climate change. If the fundamental changes needed to achieve net zero are to be introduced, the poison of complacency infecting John Kerry, among others in power, political and corporate, needs to be cut out, urgently.
Warming and food
It is man-made GHG emissions that are causing the planet to heat up. Emissions that must be purged from the atmosphere in order to meet commitments made in the 2016 Paris Climate Accord to limit average global warming to 1.5˚C. Even if net zero is achieved, there is no guarantee that warming will be limited to 1.5˚C, and whatever increases occur they are not uniform across the planet; some areas, the north and south poles e.g., are heating up more quickly than others. Since 2017, when, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, global warming reached 1˚C above pre-industrial levels, global ground temperatures have increased (despite repeated warnings) at between 0.1˚C and 0.3˚per decade.
Natural weather patterns have been completely disrupted by this level of warming, resulting in the melting of polar ice caps, rising sea levels, more frequent, intense heatwaves, floods and droughts. If net zero is achieved, and if global temperatures are limited to 1.5˚C (by latest 2050), both very big ‘ifs’, the projected impact will be less than if warming exceeds 1.5, but still far reaching. IPCC: “Ocean warming and acidification…would impact a wide range of marine organisms and ecosystems, as well as …aquaculture and fisheries…the majority (70–90%) of warm water (tropical) coral reefs that exist today will disappear …malaria and dengue will increase…Poverty and disadvantage are expected to increase for many populations…risks for coastal tourism, particularly in subtropical and tropical regions, will increase…small islands are projected to experience multiple inter-related risks: coastal flooding and impacts on populations, infrastructures and assets.”All shocking, and one suspects, conservative predictions.
To support companies and countries the United Nations Climate Change agency has set up Race to Zero, – “a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors.” Over 2,300 businesses in 708 cities have signed up, and together with 120 countries, they form what the UN describe as “the largest ever alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.” If this target is to be reached a revolution within the sectors that produce most GHG emissions is needed. This requires a major shift in focus within governments and businesses, as well as changes in collective behavior.
Energy production accounts for around 70% of total emission; this includes electricity and heat (30%), manufacturing and construction (13%), transportation (15%), followed by food production, consumption and waste. The UN Food Agency reports that, “the world’s food systems are responsible for more than one-third of global anthropogenic [man-made] greenhouse gas emissions.” This includes deforestation, “agricultural production…packaging and waste management.” Animal agriculture alone contributes around 12% of the total, and global food waste (primarily an issue in developed nations), which accounts for a third of all food produced, is responsible for eight to 10% of GHG emissions.
Renewable energy and awareness
Moving to renewable sources of energy production (solar, wind, hydroelectric and biogas), which are now less expensive than fossil fuels, is essential if the sector is to reduce GHG emissions. Although countries vary, the trend is positive: In Germany 46% of power production for 2020, came from renewables, this resulted in a decrease in GHG emissions in Germany of 42% compared with 1990 levels. In Sweden, where 54.5% of power now comes from renewables (hydroelectricity and biomass), the structure of power production is also changing. Smart grids are turning Swedish homes into power-making ‘prosumers’ (producer/consumers). Photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems are being installed in residential buildings, an energy grid connects them and helps to charge electric cars overnight. The UK, where COP21 is being held, produced 42% of power from renewables in 2020, slightly more than the 41% from fossil fuels.
China (population 1.4 billion), which currently emits the largest percentage of GHG emissions, although per capita the USA is the single biggest emitter by some margin, aims to hit peak GHG emissions by 2030 and neutrality by 2060; in 2020 29.5% of total electricity consumption is said to have been from renewables. At the lower end of the scale according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, only 11.4% of US energy comes from renewables, 80% from fossil fuels. In addition to China, the EU and America, what happens in India (per-capita emissions are extremely low but rising) is crucial to the evolving global total. Currently around 10% of energy production comes from renewables, up 6% from 2014.
Individuals cannot determine energy production, but we can all decide where we buy our energy from and participate in pressurizing government and corporations to move quickly to renewables. Choosing companies that genuinely supply electricity from renewables (not always straightforward), is a socially/environmentally responsible action; such diligence should govern, not just decisions on energy supplier, but all our consumer commitments and lifestyle habits.
Reducing emissions from the food industry is something everyone can contribute to: cut down the amount of animal produce, or stop it altogether; reduce the quantity of food, many of us eat too much, and, through lack of education and poor habits, too much of the wrong type of food; select non-packaged foodstuffs; where possible shop at markets and buy local seasonal produce, and don’t waste food.
Another way to reduce GHG emissions is by strengthening natural sponges. Planting more trees, protecting forests and woodlands, incorporating trees and gardens into urban developments, maintaining and restoring peatlands, all of which not only soak up carbon, the main GHG, but enrich biodiversity and encourage wildlife.
Reaching net zero within the timeframe agreed calls for united global action by governments, corporations and individuals. Reversing the appalling damage humanity has inflicted on the natural world requires a fundamental change in behavior, attitudes and values, and at some point fundamental reform to the socio-economic system. A shift towards simpler, cleaner lives, moving from excess to sufficiency, only buying stuff when it’s needed, driving and flying less, shopping and eating in an environmentally responsible manner, boycotting environmentally destructive companies, and withholding support from environmentally irresponsible governments.
As with change of all kinds, awareness is key. Being aware of the urgency and depth of the crisis through education; awareness of governments policies and actions, are they rooted in environmental concerns or are they still anchored in the economics of greed. And awareness of our daily behavior and the impact it has on the environment. We all have a part to play in the work of environmental salvage, if we unite and act, if our governments and businesses respond whole heartedly, perhaps, net zero can be achieved and the healing of our beautiful planet can begin in earnest.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/05/28/race-to-net-zero-emissions-are-we-ready/
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

GDP versus Lasting Growth Rooted in Love

In what feels like a throwback to another era, banks and big business are once again talking about ‘growth’, and economic development. Both of which amount to the same thing to the men and women of money – profit.
After over a year of utter turmoil, death, illness, heartache, social and economic lockdowns, some nations – the wealthy nations who, unlike poor countries, have been able to stock-pile vaccinations and immunize their populations, are opening up. The impact Covid has had on their coffers has been measured and, as the twisted wheels of consumerism begin to churn again, they are evaluating their short term financial prospects and working out how much richer they can become.
In the UK, the head of Barclays Bank recently announced, “The UK economy is on course for its biggest economic boom since 1948” – whoopee! In the midst of the pandemic, the bank, which is Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels (£20bn in 2020 alone), made record profits in the first three months of 2021 of £2.4 billion, due, to quote the nauseating jargon, to “strong growth in its corporate and investment banking division and an improved mortgage book.” Lending money to ailing businesses mainly, loans that have been guaranteed by the government, so another win-win for the banks.
France and the US have announced ‘growth’ (of 0.4%) in the first quarter of 2021. In UK house prices are once again increasing, announced as if that’s a good thing by greedy estate agents and ideologically-trapped politicians. German financial institutions are forecasting a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase of 3.7% this year. China has declared GDP growth of 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021, which is the highest ever recorded. In India, where Covid is running wild due to government stupidity and a totally inadequate, criminally underfunded health care system, estimates of GDP growth for the year vary from 10.5%-13%.
All of this ‘growth’ is based on one thing, consumerism, the very same consumerism that caused and is fueling the environmental emergency, which is the greatest crisis of this or any other time. Consumerism has also imprisoned the human spirit, and led to the construction of petty little lives that revolve around the pursuit of pleasure, which is sold as happiness, and the accumulation of stuff, the vast majority of which is not needed. Discontent is maintained, desire constantly enflamed, widespread misery leading to wholesale mental health illness, guaranteed.
And so it goes on, the madness, the ideologically-rooted consumer lunacy in which a tiny number benefit enormously, while the majority struggle to survive.
Some hoped, prayed, begged, that Covid would bring about a fundamental change in approach; perhaps a period of quiet, of enforced economic withdrawal would allow for a socio-economic re-evaluation, for an influx of common-sense. ‘Build back better’, ‘new normal’, a ‘green recovery’, all such slogans have tripped of the tongues of duplicitous politicians and corporate leaders everywhere. But now as some countries begin to relax controls, the divisive, environmentally destructive pre-Covid patterns are set to be repeated. What will it take, we ask, for substantive change to come about and socio-economic justice to be created?
We, by which I mean the vast majority of people, the masses, are not interested in GDP figures. ‘Growth’ needs to be completely re-defined, released from the narrow confines of an exploitative economic model that is obsessed with profit, is inherently cruel and destructive, and has promoted a set of values and ideals that have caused widespread illness, of people and the planet. What matters to individuals everywhere is not GDP growth, what matters, is the creation of happy, harmonious societies; societies in which governments, businesses and individuals live socially and environmentally responsible lives, where the pressure to become something, to conform to a stereotype and to achieve, is absent or diluted.
Love as Growth
At the heart of any fresh understandings around ‘growth’ must be the cultivation of social justice and trust, which, if brought about, would allow the possibility at least for peace to come into being for the first time in human history. For such a rational shift to occur, the socio-economic order needs to be re-fashioned and perennial values of goodness – cooperation, tolerance, mutual understanding, that unite people actively encouraged. Consumerism, founded on greed, fear and insatiable desire must be allowed to fall away, replaced by sustainable ways of living based sufficiency; competition (subdued somewhat during Covid) between nations, regions, states and cities must soften in light of the recognition that the various interrelated crises of the age, can only be met and overcome by united action.
Focused expressions of goodwill, as seen by community endeavors throughout the world in times of need (Covid pandemic included), unite people, helping to banish tensions and build trust; this is worthy development or growth, and is readily achieved when the habitual urge to compete is negated.
Individual growth we could describe as the apprehension and expression of who and what we essentially are, of realizing innate potential, and contributing to the well-being of society, thereby strengthening group growth, not financial gain, success and status. And collective growth, which flows from such individual understanding, must be concerned with growth in the expression of love in our world; with the creation of peace and unity and of environmental healing, ending hunger (which could be quickly achieved if the will/love to do so existed) and compassionately responding to the refugee crisis and the global displacement of people. Love, expressed not in emotional, sentimental terms, but love as that driving force for good.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/05/07/gdp-versus-lasting-growth-rooted-in-love/

Ethiopia: Violence Instability and the Need for Law and Order

An unresolved war in the north of the country; ethnic based violence some are describing as genocide in the West; random explosions of aggression in various regions: Ethiopia is trembling.
With around 117 million people, Ethiopia has the second largest population in Africa, made up of 80 or so tribal groups, all with their own cultures, language or dialect. Three big ones dominate: The Oromo (35% of population), Amhara (27%) and Tigrayan (6%). Historic disputes over land and power exist between these powerful groups; grievances which are being aggravated by pernicious elements attempting to destabilize the country.
On November 5th 2020 an armed conflict erupted in the Tigray region, between the federal government and the armed wing of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). It had been brewing for some time and both sides were prepared, itching for a fight. The Ethiopian government invited Eritrean troops to the party and then denied they were fighting side by side against a common enemy — the TPLF, widely hated in Eritrea and by many Ethiopians.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced (Ethiopia has around two million IDP’s) by the fighting, combatants on both sides killed, civilians (nobody knows how many) massacred and injured. Women and girls raped and tortured, reportedly by Eritrean military — thugs, committing vile acts, destroying lives, and all with impunity.
The government has claimed victory, but sporadic fighting continues and the TPLF leadership has escaped capture. They are believed to be reorganizing and recruiting young men to join what is morphing into an insurgency force. Intransigence prevails, with neither side willing to back down; the government is refusing to enter into negotiations, something that in the long-term, and given the high level of popular support for the TPLF in the region (they were elected as the regional government in banned elections in October 2020), may well be needed.
A UN investigation into atrocities in Tigray and elsewhere in the country is urgently required, but to date this has been rejected by the Ethiopian government who, it seems, want to appear to be in control; access to the region, which was shut off by the government during the conflict, remains limited.
Tigray does not exist in isolation, Ethiopia is one state. Violence legitimizes and breeds violence and in an atmosphere of uncertainty, where law and order is weak it can quickly spread. Attacks are being committed mainly in the west of the country, but in other areas as well, against the Amhara people, by ‘rebels’; code for the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) — a breakaway armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), founded in the 1970s to fight for the self-determination of ethnic Oromo.
The ethnically based killings, destruction of property, rapes and displacement of persons, constitute what some Ethiopians claim is genocide. This is reinforced by Genocide Watch, who have issued a Genocide warning “for Ethiopia due to the government’s inaction to stop ethnically motivated violence between Oromo, Amhara, Tigrayan and Gedeo peoples.”
The situation throughout the country is unstable and complex; ethnic identities are strong and long-standing differences between groups are easily enflamed by malicious forces, inside and outside Ethiopia. There is speculation that Egypt (angry with Ethiopia over the construction and control of the Renaissance Dam) is supporting the OLA with arms, and that the ‘rebel’ group is working with the TPLF, with the aim of destabilizing the country ahead of general elections in June. Elections postponed from 2020 that the incumbent party (the newly formed Prosperity Party) under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, are expected to win.
Defeating the men of hate and violence
For generations Ethiopia has been governed by intolerant repressive dictatorships that have ignored human rights and ruled through fear. The current government came to power in 2018 on the back of years of widespread protests against the TPLF, it has opened up the country and aspires to be democratic. Prime-Minister Abiy is the first Oromia PM, and the cabinet (50/50 male and female) is populated largely by other people from Oromo.
The TPLF ruled from 1991 to 2018. Dismantling 27 years of corrupt governance, purging all areas of government, national and local, the police and armed forces, of TPLF personnel, or TPLF-influenced/sympathetic personnel; changing habitual methods and attitudes, will not be eradicated in a few years. Such far reaching change takes time. Some Ethiopians claim that little or not enough has changed in the last two years, and blame the government, or elements within the government apparatus for the current unstable situation.
A cornerstone of the TPLF’s rule was ethnic federalism; a seemingly liberal policy, that promised to respect different cultures and honor aspirations for autonomy, but a divisive tool in the hands of the TPLF, employed to agitate conflict between ethnic groups, divide and rule being the objective. The aftermath of their abhorrent reign, is community carnage, pent-up anger, corruption and distrust.
Like all such regimes, they ruled through fear and division and were widely despised in the country and among the Ethiopian diaspora, but to there utter shame, western nations, including Ethiopia’s primary donors (and therefore the countries with the greatest influence) the US, Britain and the European Union, supported them. Consecutive western leaders, most notably Tony Blair and Barak Obama, not only failed to call out the regime’s atrocities, but were complicit, hailing corrupt elections as fair, legitimizing the results of one stolen election after another. And now, when Ethiopia is being assailed by criminal gangs, domestic terrorists masquerading as ‘freedom fighters’, and many believe, foreign interference, they stand by and do nothing.
With the odd exception, the mainstream media is also largely silent; uninterested it appears, in the deaths, rapes, and abuse of Ethiopians – men women and children whose lives were riddled with difficulties even before the current violence exploded. And now, as a result of a number of factors, including the fighting, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) state that, “Ethiopia is second only to Yemen for the total number of people in need in 2021 (IRC estimate at least 21million). As the year progresses, vulnerable communities will increasingly struggle to access necessary food and resources.”
In order to support vulnerable communities and deal with the dire humanitarian and social issues facing the country, there must first of all be peace and stability.
The safety of civilians is the first requirement of any government, and in this major respect the ruling party under PM Abiy Ahmed, has completely failed. Enforcement of the law must be a priority, police and security forces need to be strengthened, deployed to areas where communities are at risk; corruption weeded out of all areas of public life. And every effort made, by politicians, religious leaders and the media, to unify the country. Talk of unity is easy, commonplace, but without justice, tolerance and understanding, it is a hollow word that means nothing.
Ethiopia is a diverse whole, ethnic differences and culture divergence enrich the country and should be respected and celebrated. For generations people from different ethnic groups have lived side by side; marrying, praying and working together. Community harmony is being poisoned by power hungry men intent on sewing unrest and wreaking chaos. These divisive forces, wherever they may be (and some will be found hiding within government bodies), must be rooted out of the country, and those responsible for the horrendous killings, rapes and destruction hunted down and arrested, tried in a court of law.
To move this wonderful country, which has suffered so much, out of the suppressive violent shadow of the past is no easy task; time is needed, solidarity and patient perseverance. But within Ethiopia there is a powerful movement towards justice and freedom, a movement that despite the best efforts of the men of hate and violence cannot and will not be stopped.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/04/26/ethiopia-violence-instability-and-the-need-for-law-and-order/

Beyond Covid: The Essential Building Blocks of a Just World

We are living through extraordinary times. Even pre-Covid they were strange, unprecedented in a variety of ways; now more so, crazy in many ways. Among the madness, contradictions and movements for and of change, the detritus of human society is somehow being raised from the shadows into the light of public awareness, apparently impossible to conceal or deny.
As well as providing a stage for social goodness and acts of community kindness, the pandemic has functioned as a mirror to a range of social horrors and abuses, failed structures, inept politicians and corrupt methodologies. Nothing new, nothing previously unknown; old issues rooted in divisive attitudes, broken systemic practices and organized methods of conditioning and control made loud. Racism and abuse, inequality, exploitation, and mistreatment of migrant workers, are some of the habitual issues being washed up.
Inequality in its many forms, has proven to be, not simply abhorrent and socially divisive, but a killer, literally. Abuse in a number of areas has increased: against women, both inside (with women trapped indoors with their abusers) and outside the home, and racial abuse including violence against people of Asian appearance, which is through the roof, particularly in the US. Mental health illness has also dramatically increased worldwide. Anxiety and depression are rampant in many countries; grief, anger, economic uncertainty and a lack of hope about the future are common conditions. The WHO say that, “The mental health and wellbeing of whole societies have been severely impacted by this crisis [Covid-19] and are a priority to be addressed urgently.”
In addition to highlighting these and a range of social problems, the interconnected interdependent nature of life and of humanity has been starkly revealed during the last year. Substantive hope rests within this recognition, and unlimited potential for good; if lasting change is to be achieved the first and essential step is the recognition that humanity is one. One with each other and one with the natural environment of which we are a part. Despite apparent differences there is only one — unity or oneness, is the essential fact of life. Many people, despite the flag-waving propaganda that screams nationalism and intolerance from the lectern, sense this truth, and long for a new world order built on compassion and freedom that fosters unity, peace and justice.
Appetite for change
If the issues highlighted by Covid are to be addressed, government methodologies and the prevailing socio-economic order must be re-imagined. Policies, systems, values and modes of living that strengthen injustice, antagonize surface differences, stir up hatred and conflict, must be rejected totally. Replaced by pragmatic creative proposals, reached through inclusive forums, that seek to address the major issues of the time: establishing peace; safeguarding the natural world and stopping climate change; creating social justice and ending poverty.
The appetite for such a shift in approach is enormous; substantive change that addresses these fundamental concerns and safeguards the future. Individuals can powerfully contribute to the cultivation of a new dynamic, and many around the world are doing so, but for a fundamental movement to take place corporations and most importantly governments must rise to the challenge and seize the opportunity of the time; recognise the urgency of the crises, be open to new ways of doing things, listen and act.
Constraining ideals anchored in idealism, nationalism, protectionism, need to be discarded totally, and non-partisan ways of working that seek to establish the broadest possible consensus, embraced by politicians of all colors. Parliaments (not just governments) need to act from a unifying position (as some have during Covid), stay true to agreed long-term goals and principles of fairness and brotherhood, and not be swayed by corporate voices and the insistence on short-term political or economic gain; and crucially they need to listen. Listen to communities, to community leaders and to children/young people; listen to those working in the areas of concern, e.g., people engaged in civil-society and environmental campaigning.
It is in these groups that the purifying waters of change, that are now pervading the world, are being most powerfully felt and most keenly responded too. The qualities inherent in this global cleansing are perennial principles that many hold dear: sharing, cooperation, tolerance, understanding. Simple ideals known to people everywhere, repeated to children in homes and classrooms throughout the world; ideals that now must be embraced by the political and corporate class, and brought to life. Seen not simply as a list of comforting, but hollow phrases to be wheeled out at political rallies and elections to appease the masses, but as the essential building blocks of a new and just civilization; principles of goodness guiding action, informing the design of policies and new modes of living and unifying societies.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/04/02/beyond-covid-the-essential-building-blocks-of-a-just-world/

The Emerging Culture of Compassion

‘Take your Brothers Need as the Measure for Your Actions’
Given the level of divisive conditioning, with its emphasis on competition and selfishness, that we are all exposed to, it’s a wonder that kindness and compassion exist at all. But exist they do, and since the global calamity that is Covid-19 hit our streets, a widespread feeling of brotherhood has surfaced, triggering acts of everyday altruism in communities all over the world.
Huge numbers of people are volunteering with health services, local support groups, and food-banks; delivering medication, offering fitness classes, checking on vulnerable neighbors and more. Times of emergency and catastrophe routinely trigger such acts of kindness, calling forth the best in us. Superficial differences are cast aside in light of the immediate need and we see ourselves in the other; selfishness and ambition are negated, for a moment at least, and compassion made manifest.
Not only have individuals and civil society responded magnificently during the pandemic, governments, in varying degrees, have acted to ease the collective pain and mitigate the economic impact. Now, as countries begin to slowly emerge from the shadow of the disease, the opportunity to build on this awakened duty of care presents itself, and in so doing, to inculcate, what the historian Peter Hennessy describes as “one of the most creative and productive patches of our history.”
In order to give shape to this, or any other post-Covid vision, and there are many ‘re-thinking’ dreams floating around, systemic change and reform of governing institutions is urgently required. Such pragmatic changes are effects, flowing from a shift or awakening in attitudes – firstly within society, then among governments, creaking bodies that are habitually reactive; the popular response to Covid suggests that such an evolution is under way. A development that moves the centre of focus from the individual to the group; away from purely selfish achievement, often at the expense of other people and the environment, to action that enriches society, is environmentally responsible and focuses on the well-being of others.
As the Teacher, Maitreya, has said (message no.54 of 140, given on 28/11/1978): “The problems of mankind are real but solvable. The solution lies within your grasp. Take your brother’s need as the measure for your action and solve the problems of the world. There is no other course.” This realignment of attention from self-centered action to addressing the needs of ‘your brother’, appears on the face of it to be a major one. Certainly such an approach runs contrary to the corrosive ‘survival of the fittest’ message, which has characterized political and socio-economic propaganda for generations, but, it is an idea that sits in harmony with the natural inclinations of most people in the world.
Everyone has the seed of goodness within them, the nature of which is love. In addition to awareness of non-separation, a key quality of ‘the good’ is the impulse towards community service of some kind; service manifested as acts of social and environmental responsibility e.g., both of which have been growing over the last forty years or so, intensifying and expanding year on year. The unprecedented global protest movement, high levels of political engagement and environmental activism are manifest examples of ‘the good’, or love, in action, and during Covid, the widespread levels of community service.
Service, which on the face of it at least, demands some level of self-sacrifice (time and regular commitment e.g.) is, by its very nature highly decentralizing – shifting the focus away from the individual – focusing as it does on the needs of another, on ‘your brother’s need’. It is a response to the recognition that, as one group, or family, we are all responsible for one another, for society and the natural world. We instinctively know this to be true, but for generations false values and imprisoning ideologies of all kinds, have been drummed into the minds of everyone from birth, polluting human nature, distorting action, conditioning people into competition, selfishness and fear; creating divided insecure societies. Change the environment by removing the factors that feed such tendencies, encourage a culture of compassion and see the good spontaneously erupt.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/03/22/the-emerging-culture-of-compassion/

Freedom of Thought and the Death of Ideologies

Amidst widespread mistrust of authority and governing institutions (politicians, particularly governments, are the least trusted group in society), dogma, from whatever source, appears to be losing its suffocating hold on the minds of people everywhere. Disillusionment with ideologically based solutions is being strengthened by the consistent failure of existing methods to solve the problems of the times, which are many and considerable.
If global and national challenges are to be met fully and whole-heartedly, creative reimagining, free of doctrine, is required; independent thinking outside the ideological box. Decrepit systems must be reappraised, the good retained the rest rejected; values realigned, belief systems revised and expanded. Humanity has been wedded to ideologies of one kind of another for eons. Our devotion to them strengthens self-identity, albeit limited and false, and provides a degree of comfort and order in a chaotic world which has no easily discernible logic or purpose to it. This is particularly so in relation to organised religions with their defined order, fixed doctrine and mapped-out route to ‘God’.
Capitalism, democracy and Christianity (2.2 billion believers) are the most pervasive global ideologies, but there are a host of others. In the religious field there’s Islam, the fastest growing religion (1.8 billion); Hinduism (the world’s oldest, one billion), which is not really a religion but a collection of traditions and ancient philosophies; Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism and Sikhism, plus a bundle of sub-sects. Then there are the socio-economic/political structures: Socialism, Neo-liberalism, Communism, Fascism, and the many divisions; on and on it goes.
A veritable jumble of isms then, conditioning the minds of everyone, everywhere, enabling control, fuelling social divisions, historic conflicts, sparking terrorism and wars too numerous to count. Ideologies consisting of systemized forms, inflexible rules and cherished beliefs administered by devotees, suited and enrobed intermediaries — between the ignorant masses and the state or the divine. Ordained or elected to perpetuate the system, devoutly deliver the doctrine, condition the unsuspecting from the pulpit, the election rally or news channel, and orchestrate the hollow rituals designed by their predecessors. Mass media and education, plus already infiltrated peers and parents are key feeding grounds for the perpetuation of ideologies
Love in Action
Alongside the calls for justice, a relentless rhythm of the times is the collective demand for freedom. It adorns the placards and lyrics of protest songs around the world. Various freedoms are contained within The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR): “Freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want, freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” And crucially, “The right to freedom of thought” (Article 18). This ‘right’, which is the most important of them all, like numerous others contained within the aspirational articles of the UNDHR, does not exist anywhere in the world; it cannot exist within the boundaries of any ideology, and no society is free, not just from a specific ideology, but a potent cocktail of isms.
All belief systems inhibit and condition thinking, colour attitudes and impact behavior. Rigid adherence to isms of all kinds creates divisions, within the individual and by extension the society, and where division exists conflict and fear prosper. All of which runs contrary to the impulse and need of the time, for unity, collective action, cooperation and tolerance. It is these perennial ideals that need to be strengthened if we are to overcome the major issues facing us. All that separates and divides needs to be discarded.
Existing ideologies are in varying states of decay, with devotees of the doctrine lacking the freedom and imagination to allow the system (socio-economic, political or religious) to evolve. But as attitudes and values shift, and this is happening apace throughout the world, in order to be relevant and to adequately meet the demands of the time, evolve they must.
Unity is the key element in any such shift — the required guiding principle underlying the development of existing systems and modes of living. Systems and methodologies rooted not in ideology but in compassion and brotherhood, leading to love in action; systems designed to foster social justice, reduce inequality, dismantle divisions and build relationships.
Unity does not equate to mechanical conformity, that is what exists now; in a tolerant, non-judgmental space where the common good is the collective aim, different ideas can happily co-exist, each contributing to the enrichment and beautification of the whole. Oneness is the very nature of things, the essence of who we are; creating ways of living that are rooted in and encourage expressions of this inherent fact is essential if we are to face the challenges of the time, safeguard the environment and begin to build a just and free world.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/03/05/freedom-of-thought-and-the-death-of-ideology/

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Global Cry for Change

Change is in the air, it’s been hovering for some time, but thanks to Covid-19 festering social issues and inequalities have been highlighted, intensifying the need for a new approach. Talk of environmental action and reimagining how we live and work fills the airwaves; catchphrases abound, spilling from the lips of duplicitous politicians who claim they want to ‘build back better’, create a ‘new normal’, and invest in a ‘green recovery’.
Repeated often enough, and the men and women in suits are nothing if not repetitive, such slogans become totally devoid of meaning. The word becomes the thing to which it refers, without ‘the thing’ – ‘peace’, ‘brotherhood’, ‘equality’ – ever being realized, or any meaningful action undertaken to bring it about.
A cluster of interconnected crises confronts humanity, the most urgent of which is the environmental emergency. The natural world with its sublime beauty and intricate systems, has been vandalized, mutilated, poisoned. Hunger and malnourishment soil the lives of almost a billion people, billions more are economically insecure. Societies are fractured, divided, some more some less; there’s armed conflict, modern-day slavery, displacement of persons; anxiety, stress and depression are everywhere. It’s a mess, but it’s a mess from which a small number of very rich and politically powerful people benefit enormously. A tiny coterie of humanity, complacent and greedy, who are quite happy with the current order and do not want things to change, certainly not in any radical substantive way.
But billions of people throughout the world are desperate for change, for freedom, social justice, greater democracy and environmental action. And in the last forty years or so virtually every country in the world has witnessed expressions of popular outrage (including the more repressive states) as a global protest movement, unprecedented in scale, has emerged.
Social change has forever been slow in coming; fought for by the masses and resisted, often violently, by those in power. There is nothing unusual there, what is new is the weight and scale of the calls for change, the range of issues, interconnected, but diverse, and the urgency of the crises. The internet, social media and mass communication means the world is connected like never before. It’s easier to organize happenings, news is accessible almost everywhere all the time, speeding everything up.
Underlying this universal wave of discontent is a collective awakening, a unifying attitude of strength in the face of political arrogance, corporate exploitation and social division: Enough is enough; hear us and respond, seem to be the mantras of the masses. Fear of reprisals has lost its restraining hold (as seen in the recent protests in, e.g., Belarus, Russia and Myanmar) in light of the power of unified creative actions brought together under the banner of love.
‘People power’ is the label commonly applied to this uncoordinated diverse movement by the mass media – and they love a label. A reductive, somewhat divisive term; the explosion in political, social and environmental engagement is not rooted in opposition, though this certainly exists, but flows from a growing sense of social and environmental responsibility and an evolving unity; a recognition that we are all responsible for one another and the planet.
Responsibility is a key component of a democratic society, as is participation, and of course the two are closely linked. Society is not separate from those who live, work and study within its boundaries; we are society, collectively we create the atmosphere, and we allow and perpetuate the structures and dominant modes of living through our actions and attitudes. Consciousness sits behind behavior, attitudes, values, and consciousness (at least as far as we know it) is its content. Such content is predominantly the accumulated ideas and beliefs that have been poured into the mind from birth; conditioned content then is the fabric of our consciousness. We are, for example, conditioned into competition from childhood, and believing it to be natural and beneficial, we live within its divisive pattern and pass it on to others, our peers and children say; we thereby add to the collective conditioning, which shapes society.
Changes in consciousness and therefore behavior come about quite naturally when conditioning is absent; remove conformity and fear from a classroom, for example, and see children relax, play and freely express themselves.
We are all responsible, not just for ourselves but for others, family, friends, our community, nation, region, world; the more we act, the more the ripples of responsibility expand. Recognition and awareness of this inherent responsibility leads quite naturally to participation and action, as the many and varied protest movements and community groups demonstrate.
Expressions of social and environmental responsibility reflect and strengthen an evolving realization that humanity is one, that we are all essentially the same: Individuals with particular qualities and gifts sharing a common nature and universal constitution, the beauty and depth of which we sense but do not understand; its quality is love, that much we do know; and it is love in action that needs to permeate any ‘new normal’.

The Global Cry for Change

Change Love and the Need for Unity

Much needs to change in our world, and while this was clear before Covid-19, the pandemic is highlighting festering issues and creating a space in which to re-access current modes of living. New and just socio-economic and political systems are required together with positive values that encourage the good. Mankind needs to learn to share, to live more simply, to cooperate and to create a world free from conflict, and the planet needs to be allowed to heal. The list is long, but everything is interrelated.
Underlying the various crises facing humanity is a crisis of identity. Identifying almost exclusively with the form (physical body, thoughts and emotions), we believe that we are separate – from one another, the natural world and from that animating force to which we give the highly charged name of ‘God’, whatever that may be. The belief in separation is firmly held and is constantly perpetuated by the structures of the day – social, economic, educational, and so on – it conditions relationships, is a source of deep seated psychological conflict and fear and cloaks the truth.
The reality is Oneness; all of life is interconnected, whole. The essential first step in the process of renewal (for us and the planet) is for humanity to see itself as one, and from this realization to design systems and ways of living that cultivate and strengthen the experience of oneness. Humanity is a family, a group, large and diverse, consisting of unique individuals with a variety of gifts and qualities, all sharing the same constitution and inherent nature, and all suffering from the same or similar fears and longings.
Belief in separation has led to the creation of divisive unjust systems and a ‘dog eat dog’ mentality, a widespread acceptance that man/woman is inherently selfish, greedy and driven by pleasure. As we transition out of the present dying order and into the new, many people are challenging this false idea and calling for a shift, not only in the modes of living, but in ways of thinking.
Oneness and Fragmentation
One of the most significant characteristics of our times is the polarization between large sections of the population. There is the worldwide movement towards collective action, greater tolerance and cooperation, and, rooted in the past, the converse reaction towards tribal nationalism, the aggrandizement of the Nation and the success of the individual at the expense of the group: Unity or Oneness in opposition to Fragmentation or Separation. On the noisy surface at least, fragmentation is in the ascendancy, and unity, although often warmly refereed to, rather like a much-loved eccentric relative, is held within the margins and spoken of in condescending unrealistic terms.
Fragmentation constitutes the normal, if totally unnatural, way of things; it characterizes virtually every aspect of life and describes the state of mind of most, if not all of us. Where competition exists (and its hard to find anywhere where it doesn’t), where ideology dictates and nationalism triumphs, fragmentation, like a giant jigsaw puzzle will be found scattered across the mind and the society, in chaotic, yet familiar disorder.
Motive is also a primary factor in the creation of fragmentation and the belief in separation. Any kind of motive – noble or ignoble – creates fragmentation, and where is there action free from motive? Desire, which sits alongside motive, colors all activity it seems, polluting and corrupting as it passes from one form to another, one discontented agitated mind to the next.
Generations have been systematically conditioned into believing that this is the way to live, that we are separate and must compete with one another to survive; that greed, selfishness, social division and tribalism are part of who and what we are as human beings, and that there is no alternative. According to the Doctrine of Division it’s good to ‘love your country’ above all others, flags are saluted, anthems of obedience and loyalty sung, conditioning the mind young and old. To compete to be the best and to overcome your enemies or competitors essential, if we, as separate divided human beings are to survive and prosper, to fulfill our potential.
This fundamentally misguided, and false approach has led to the creation of a deeply divided world, to brittle unkind systems of governance and control that perpetuate violence and social injustice, creating a frightened world community at odds with itself and the natural world, to say nothing of ‘God’. Fragmentation is division and where division prospers so does conflict, internally (psychologically and physiologically) and externally.
From this fractured state of mind decisions flow, personal and collective, political and corporate. The negative results of which we see in our own lives and in our societies; endless war’s, needless poverty and acute economic inequality, social division, relationship break down, mental health illnesses, climate change and the widespread collapse of ecosystems, etc., etc. Fragmentation and the fervent belief in separation defies the natural way of things, which, if allowed to flow unimpeded is ordered and harmonious. It crushes brotherhood, sews mistrust and suspicion of ‘the other’, and obstructs totally the experience and realization of our innate self; that essential reality that, beyond the time bound constructs of thought, we all are. That is our true being, and when actions proceed from that unified non-fragmented place harmony ensues.
If we are to move out of the crumbling chaos of the old and create a new and just civilization in which humanity can live peacefully together for the first time in our long and painful history, we must first of all recognize that we are one; that all of life is interconnected, something we know in theory, but disregard in practice. The new forms and ways of living that must emerge need to be based on and encourage expressions of brotherhood and compassion. This will establish a living cycle of love; yes, perhaps unsurprisingly it’s all about love, and the absence of it. Unity is an expression of love.
The creation of a fertile ground in which harmony can come into being is a great deal easier than might be imagined. As humanity collectively demonstrates (excluding the minority) in times of need, underneath the outward shows of cruelty and selfishness, mankind is good; remove the obstacles (fear, desire, competition etc.) to compassion and that unifying force – love, which is our very nature, will naturally and spontaneously express itself. As the shoals of fish swimming in the previously polluted Grande Canal in Venice show, remove the noise and pollution, allow the filth to settle to he depths and the waters become clear by themselves.