Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Maori Then and Now: Do We Have Time to Learn?

1,124 words
TITLE:   From Maori to Maori:   Time to Learn?
 By Dick Bennett at OMNI's 2011 Peace and Justice Awards Banquet

     Ciudadanos del Mundo.
      While we celebrate local peace and justice makers and defenders of our earth, let us also celebrate each other as Citizens of the world.   Although humans have propensities to behave selfishly and assertively, we knowpeople are not inherently aggressive.   It is much more correct to say that war and violence and injustice cause aggression than that aggressiveness causes war, violence, and injustice.   For we know also that humans have propensities to behave socially and cooperatively, with kindness and consideration for others, including those outside our family, clan, city, state, or nation.   We don’t hear this in our media as often as crime news because crime is news, while acts of compassion and mercy would overwhelm the newspapers.   So these awards are intended to recognize these unsung heroes and promote these pro-social human characteristics in Arkansas.

     A counter example is clarifying.  800 years ago some Polynesians discovered what we now call New Zealand.   Humans had never before inhabited the island.  It was a paradise.  And the people lived in peace and harmony.     When all the large docile land animals and fish had been eaten and made extinct, the Maori culture changed.    They shifted from cooperation to competition, built weapons, garrisoned their villages, and fought over scarce resources.   By the time Capt. James Cook arrived in 1768, food was so short and life so brutal that the Maori were eating each other.     Few remain today.   Perhaps they ate so much so rapidly they did not have time to learn peaceful ways.

       In contrast the European nations had time and eventually learned.   In the twentieth century they had painted their faces and turned Maori.  Consequently, You +1'd this publicly. Undo
The total military and civilian casualties in World War I were over 35 million:   over 15 million deaths and 20 million wounded.  That’s over 12  Arkansas populations.  Plus more millions displaced.    In World War II, estimates vary from over 50 million to 70 million people killed.    And then Europe changed.   They repudiated the bloody garrison state that never, like the Maori, stops warring.
         In contrast to the Romans, the British abandoned their empire and preserved their democracy.   And other European nations rejected empire and war for social democracies of mutual welfare.   
       Japan also changed.   Article 9 of the 1947 Japanese Constitution reads:
    "Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
[Consequently,] land,  sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."
        This spirit is reflected in the great memorial to the WWII Battle of Okinawa, called the “Cornerstone of Peace,” composed of international cenotaph,  museum, and  park all dedicated to world amity.       Visualize Fayetteville’s Federal War Cemetery.      Now imagine the southern high tip of the island, a cliff overlooking the ocean where U.S. cruisers in WWII fired point blank into the caves full of soldiers and civilians, and where women leaped to their deaths to avoid torture by the U. S. troops as described by Japanese propaganda.      A large slab circle surrounds an eternal flame and fountain.   Now visualize the Okinawan “Everlasting Waves of Peace,” 116 huge, black granite stelai in concentric arcs for all of the people killed during the battle, regardless of nationality and civilian or military status: Japanese, Okinawan, Korean, Taiwanese, US, and British.   
War and Climate Change
       Given time, nations can change; war, violence are not inevitable.  Since the causes of violence include some Maori politicians, generals, despots, and warmongers, we can work to install better people in power.  We have many choices for peace.   But equally hopeful is knowledge that tens of thousands  of countries, regions, tribes have found less brutal ways of seeking security, defending rights, and providing justice for the people of this planet other than by violence and war.   Douglas Fry’s The Human Potential for Peace documents over 80 societies that have very low levels of aggression. The Xingu peace system, Mexican Zapotec communities, the Semai of Malaysia, the Ifaluk of Micronesia, the Australian Aborigines, and Europe, especially  Denmark and Finland.    The peace movement must tell these stories.
      As we do tonight.  For our awardees and nominees show us how we can improve the quality of life for all humanity; reduce the social and economic inequalities that foment hostility, hatred, and terrorism;   and create new procedures and institutions for providing justice and resolving differences.
      But time is now short, for the planet is warming rapidly.  Our new challenge now is how to change the US National Security State to meet the stresses from warming locally and internationally not with violence but with the Golden Rule.   We must learn to change.
Lester Brown
       Lester Brown in World on the Edge teaches us how we must limit our fossil-based economy.  He calls it “Plan B.”   Foremost, through government planning and organization we must  stabilize our climate by building a new economy powered by carbon-free sources of energy, reinforced by a constrained transportation system, by reusing and recycling everything, by stopping population growth, by eradicating poverty, by restoring the natural support systems, and by converting the military budget to environmental needs.   They are mutually dependent, and “all are essential to feeding the world’s people.” 

Ralph Nader

      Ralph Nader, making no reference to the Maori, only a week ago wrote an essay entitled, “The Empire Is Eating Itself.”  Nader comments:  All empires eventually eat away at their own and devour themselves.”   Everyone  who now struggles to change the economic and energy system, in the US,  in order to prevent this self-destruction, would agree with Nader, and with his several ways we might unlearn the “overreactions to 9/11 that have harmed our country.”  Today, September 17, is Constitution Day.  Nader’s ways to change the US permanent war system perfectly fit this Day.   Here is one:

Do not create a climate of fear or a nationalistic definition of patriotism in order to invade and occupy another country illegally, or in order to silence dissent by the citizenry , especially by those who are unfairly arrested or harassed.
I have no doubt we are all here in this sense Constitutionalists.   We have learned and earned it.

So to all I say: Ciudadanos del mundo, Citoyens du monde, Citizens of the World.

Brown, Lester.  World on the Edge.   (warming)
Fry, Douglas.  The Human Potential for Change (war not natural, universal, or ancient)
Hartmann, Thom.   Threshold (the Maori)
Memoirs of 15 Years of War (Okinawa)
Nader, Ralph.  “The Empire Is Eating Itself.”   Counterpunch (September 3, 2011).
Sheehan, Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?  (EuropeM

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