Friday, April 10, 2009

On Politics and Humane Ethics ~ by Peta-de-Aztlan

Good Friday, April 10, 2009 ~

Chairman Mao stated in his Quotations that 'politics is war without bloodshed'. Definitely we can say that politics has a combative nature to it, such as, when political candidates 'fight' political 'battles' in election campaigns for public office or in Congress when they are proposing any controversial legislation and they know they will face 'opposition' from 'the other side'. There are 'war chests' for campaign finances.

Bobby Seale, former Chairman of the now defunct Black Panther Party, use to talk about making politics 'for real' and that politics was relating to the basic survival needs of the people, which in itself can be deemed as controversial for some.

Nowadays, the very words 'politics' and 'politicians' are dirty words that turn people off in an automatic reaction without any cognitive reasoning going on in their heads. Someone may be a concerned citizen and a decent humane being, but the mere mention of 'politics' turns them off, scares them away or makes them shrink back in horror!

When I was growing up my Father and I use to clash a lot. When we had a family get together I was warned by my Mom, along with him, not to discuss 'politics' or religion because it would routinely degenerate into a family argument, leaving my Mother in a quandary as to which side to choose: her husband or her oldest son. Usually we would be drinking booze so that would add fire into the mix. My Father has evolved as lot since those early days and I have become more analytical, reasonable and thoughtful in my communications in general. Plus, as a rule I no longer in indulge in alcohol and my father and I have cordial if distant dialogues.

The Online Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'politics' as so:

Main Entry: pol•i•tics Listen to the pronunciation of politics
Function:noun plural but singular or plural in construction
Etymology:Greek politika, from neuter plural of politikos political
Date:circa 1529
1 a: the art or science of government b: the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy c: the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government 2: political actions, practices, or policies 3 a: political affairs or business ; especially : competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government) b: political life especially as a principal activity or profession c: political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices 4: the political opinions or sympathies of a person5 a: the total complex of relations between people living in society b: relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view

Connected reality, which encompasses all objective and subjective realities independently of the mind (which often gets us into trouble with its 'stinkin' thinkin'), connects all of us on the cosmic level. In fact, no one individual exists in-and-of himself independent from any external objective reality.

In a traditional understanding of politics it is often linked with the word 'corruption' and politicians in general are usually seen a 'dirty politicians'. Many times politicians are seen as being on the take, that is, taking money in the form of bribes that may be disguised as lobbying by Special Interests' in order to sway their votes on a given issue or piece of legislation. What is seen as political expediency may be seen as a compromise but the politician easily walks onto shaky ground when a given compromise may involve him or her compromising basic humane ethics.

Life is not all black-and-white and often more complex than a simple YES or NO. Sometimes certain compromises may have to be made in terms of tactics, schedules and priorities, but we enter an area of slimy darkness when we start compromising our own basic humane ethics, our true understanding of what is right versus what is wrong, our gut feelings that often tell us whether a certain matter embraces justice or not.

The truth is we are all impacted by politics and the decisions made by politicians who are elected officials, so no one can play the innocent virgin. Politics today has real deep and far-reaching influences on us that we may not even be aware of yet help shape the way we live our lives. Who knows that new laws came into effect on January 1st of 2009? Imagine a law that if broken can end up with you committing a crime that maybe you did not even know was a law to be broken!!! Remember the saying that ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law?

Thus, people need to be aware and stay aware of what is going on in the realm of politics and not play the flightless dodo bird with their heads in the sand thinking they are invisible so nobody sees them. All of us need to adopt a basic set of humane ethics and core values in relation to what we consider to be right, fair, just and morally correct, not necessarily what is politically correct. Political correctness can easily betray our own basic principles. In essence, we should stick to our guns, in this context, stick to our basic humane principles and let us hope that our principles are indeed ethical and humane.

In life we must often define our terms because many misunderstandings and breakdowns in communications happen because people use the same words yet can have way different personal definitions of those words. What is ethical and what is humane? We need basic ground rules for our general analyzes, social dialogues and personal conversations.

For starters, let us agree on the basics of the Ten Commandments of the Holy Bible (now don't run off and jump to conclusions), especially the ones about 'You Shall Not Kill' and 'You Shall Not Steal'. Right there we can run into trouble because we will give a man of Medal of Honor for his killing in one situation and sentence him to the Death Penalty in another killing situation. Let us utilize that often rarely used notion of common sense and take a leap of faith in order to behold the existence of the 'average reasoning person'.

To strive to keep it simple and not complicate the simple, let us begin with the basic principle that life is sacred and that the taking of a life without valid reason is profane, is wrong, is unjust. Thus, there is such a thing as a justifiable homicide in an extreme situation. We will go further and state that all those ways that support life, that protect life, that enrich life and that better life for all of us are good humane ways. A humane being has care, concern and compassion for all living beings. Let us hope and pray that our politicians have a core set of humane values, of humane ethics and humane principles that govern their souls, their minds and their decisions in ways that are of real benefit to all peoples. In the cosmic analysis, we must not compromise our humane ethics in the arena of politics where wars are fought daily.

Democracy as a political system of government only works well when it is a true participatory democracy, not merely a representative democracy. All citizens of a land should have the basic right to vote, including the condemned prisoner. If democracy is rule by the majority its core essence should be to treasure the humane rights of the individual and thereby the humane rights of all of us.

Once again, we must redefine politics as the means through which we come together, work out our basic differences, govern a society often on the verge of mass mayhem with humane ethics and a body of principles that truly exemplify 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' for all of us. When the rights of anyone are violated by an unjust power this should be seen as a violation against all of us and such violations should be strongly condemned by any means mandatory.

Blessings for A Truly Good Friday! ~ Peta-de-Aztlan
Sacramento, California

Education for Liberation!


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Obama Calls for World Without Nuclear Weapons: Wash Post + Comment

Obama Calls for World Without Nuclear Weapons

By Michael D. Shear and Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 5, 2009; 12:29 PM

PRAGUE, April 5 -- In a speech grimly punctuated by current events, President Obama Sunday called for a world without nuclear weapons shortly after North Korea defied global warnings to fire a long-range rocket.

Speaking in front of the Prague Castle just hours after the North Korean launch, Obama vowed to immediately seek U.S. ratification of a ban on nuclear testing, convene a summit in Washington to stop the spread of nuclear material within four years and create a nuclear fuel bank to allow peaceful development of nuclear power.

"I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," Obama said to a crowd of about 20,000 packed into the historic square in the Czech Republic's capital city. "This goal will not be reached quickly -- perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change."

The president denounced North Korea's launch of a three-stage Taepodong-2 missile, which flew over Japan before apparently falling into the Pacific Ocean, as a provocative act in defiance of the United Nations.

North Korea has called the launch part of a "peaceful" research project, but the United States, Japan and other allies see it as a threat. The missile has the range to reach Hawaii and Alaska.

Obama said Sunday North Korea risks further isolation by pursuing nuclear weapons and the missiles to carry them.

"Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something," he said to loud applause. "The world must stand together to stop the spread of these weapons."

White House officials said it was unclear whether the rocket launch was intended to coincide with the president's speech. But intentional or not, it served as a reminder of the potential dangers of nuclear weapons and the difficulty in restraining nations from developing them.

Obama spoke against a backdrop of the city where Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces crushed a movement of political liberalization in August, 1968. His address put new focus on disarmament and nonproliferation issues, which he had also raised in his foreign policy speeches during the presidential campaign.

The scene of his address, under a hazy sky in one of Eastern Europe's oldest and most beautiful cities, recalled Obama's speech in Germany in the midst of the presidential campaign last year.

Thousands of people waved U.S. and Czech flags and chanted "Obama" as they waited for his arrival, packing Hradcany Square, a hilltop plaza outside Prague Castle, to catch a glimpse of the American president. Unlike Obama's other appearances in Europe, his Prague speech was open to the general public; people started lining up before dawn to get a space on the square.

"It was a historical moment, to have him speak here," said Michaela Dombrovska, 32, a civil-servant from Prague. "He's given us hope that American will lead us to more world peace. He's clearly thought up new and different ideas about how to get rid of nuclear weapons in an effective way."

The president called Prague a "golden city which is both ancient and youthful" and honored the 1968 Prague Spring and the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which peacefully ended the country's domination by the Soviets, by saying that "we are here today because enough people ignored the voice who said the world could not change."

Last week, Obama announced plans to negotiate a new arms reduction treaty with Russia by the end of this year, with the goal of reducing the number of nuclear weapons held by both countries. But the proposals he outlined today go beyond that announcement. Obama pledged a broad effort by his government to convince allies and adversaries to abandon nuclear weapons as a means of security and aggression.

For those worried about a unilateral American disarmament, Obama promised that the country would keep enough nuclear weapons to defend itself and its allies as long as the weapons existed in other nations.

But he made clear that efforts to convince nations such as North Korea and Iran to abandon their nuclear ambitions will not succeed unless the United States and its allies make good on their promises to eventually abandon their own stockpiles of the weapons.

"As a nuclear power -- as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon -- the United States has a moral responsibility to act," he said. "We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it."

He also reiterated his pledge to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe as long as Iran poses a possible nuclear threat to the region.

"If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile defense construction in Europe at this time will be removed," Obama said.

A crucial component of the missile shield -- a radar tracking system -- would be based outside Prague under terms of a treaty signed by the Czech government and the Bush administration last July. But polls show that about 70 percent of Czechs are against the shield, and opponents so far have blocked the Czech parliament from ratifying the agreement.

Dozens of protesters, clad in white hazardous-material protection suits, stood silently outside the Prague Castle grounds to demonstrate against the missile shield.

Senior U.S. officials, discussing Obama's speech, said the administration is "trying to seize the moral high ground" in discussions with countries like North Korea.

"For us to mobilize international pressure against countries like Iran and North Korea, we have to demonstrate that we are committed" to disarmament, said Gary Samore, White House Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Security, and Arms Control.

Obama has endorsed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty before, but today pledged to "immediately and aggressively" seek ratification of the treaty in the U.S. Senate. Nearly 148 countries have ratified the treaty, but it still awaits approval by the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and Iran.

Once the United States ratifies the treaty, officials said they expect others could follow quickly.

After the speech, several hundred people marched through central Prague denouncing the shield project. They carried balloons and placards reading, "Yes We Can -- Say No To Missile Shield" and "We Want Democracy -- 70 Percent of Czechs Opposed to U.S. Military Base." An large contingent of riot police kept watch over the march, but no disturbances were reported.

Sabri Djerbi, a 24-year-old university student from Prague, said he was disappointed but not surprised that Obama endorsed the missile shield, after questioning the merits of the project during his presidential campaign.

"The people who tell him what to do are the same people who told George Bush what to do," Djerbi said. "They are just puppets. When Obama won, the American people cried and cried, saying, 'This is the best day of my life.' But no, I knew he wouldn't be any different, really."

Other demonstrators, however, said they were still heartened by part of Obama's speech. While they said they disagreed with his stance on the missile shield, they praised his call for nuclear disarmament and closer relations with Russia and Iran.

"We were really just hoping for a change in rhetoric, and we heard that," said Tanya Sediva, 50, a women's rights activist from Prague. "With Bush, it was only talk about armaments and war. With Obama, it's a breath of fresh air."

Many Czechs who listened to the speech agreed with that sentiment.

Marek Hyl, 24, a business student from Slovakia, said he was pleasantly surprised by Obama's stated willingness to improve relations with Russia and impose deep cuts on both countries' nuclear arsenals. "It's not what you would expect from an American president," Hyl said. "Especially nowadays, given what is going on with Iran and North Korea."

Tomas Poskocil, 28, a genetics researcher from the town of Pisek, said he arrived at Prague Castle at 3 a.m. to get a good perch in the crowd so he could take measure of Obama in person. "We still don't really know who he is," Poskocil said. "Everybody has so many expectations for him, but we need to hear him out and really listen to what he has to say."

Comment:  So far, despite his drawbacks in some areas (including the forging of comprehensive humane immigration legislation, failure to constitute a strong housing program for homeless people and his expansion of the War in Afghanistan) he is the most progressive President that the U.S. has ever had. I have always thought that it was the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. to be the shot-caller in relation to nuclear proliferation when it was the only state power who ever actually used the A-Bomb as it did against Japan!

Be under no false illusions, corporate capitalism still rules the global economy and the U.S. military machine is the biggest mass killer in world history, but change has to begin somewhere somehow someway. It begins with us, with our checking our own killer instinct and working on our own character defects embodied in the Seven Deadly Sins! Change is ultimately an inside job that takes place in our own personal lives, in the lives of our own families and in the lives in our local communities! Feel cosmic, think global and work local!

Education for Liberation! Join Up!
Peter S. Lopez aka: Peta