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OCCASIONAL PAPER #1

GLOBAL MIND CHANGE

Willis Harman, in the 2nd edition of his book, Global Mind Change, asserts that “People give legitimacy and they can take it away.  A challenge to legitimacy is probably the most powerful force for change to be found in history….  To the empowering principle that people can withhold legitimacy, and thus change the world, we now add another:  By deliberately changing the internal image of reality, people can change the world.  Perhaps the only limits to the human mind are those we believe in.” (p.viii)

It is this sea change in the way we think as human beings that we are seeking to accomplish through the peacebuilding efforts of World Citizenship Institute International.  For too long we have believed that we can achieve peace through violence.  We cannot.  For too long we have believed that might gives us the right to satisfy our greed at the expense of others.  For too long we have believed that we are self-sufficient entities who have no responsibility for the welfare of others—particularly others who are far away or who do not share our particular beliefs.

In America, it is the belief that we can achieve peace through violence that has legitimized in our minds the senseless killing of innocent persons in Iraq and Afghanistan in the effort to free them from tyranny.  It is this same belief that justifies our incarceration of tens of thousands of societies misfits, warehousing them instead of addressing their needs.  It is our pathetic belief, now centuries old that justified the enslavement of blacks from Africa, the decimation of Native Americans in this country, and the repression of minority groups throughout the land—all violent actions and all wrong headed.  The violence continues today—against people of color, against gays, against the mentally ill and against any who challenge our assumed superiority.  We desperately need a global change of mind.

Our belief in violence extends even to the contempt with which we relate to our environment.  We believe we have the right to exploit natural resources simply because we have the power to do so.  It does not matter, we believe, that we are depriving even our own children of clean air, clean water, and a bountiful harvest.  In our greed we justify rape of the environment as our inalienable right to dominate.  Stewardship of the creation is not in our vocabulary.  We desperately need a global change of mind.

Change is not easy.  Change is threatening.  To change means that we must admit that we have been wrong. To change means that we adopt a mindset of giving rather than taking.  It requires that we practice what our spiritual leaders—Gandhi, Jesus, Buddha, Baha’u’llah, Desmond Tutu, Mohammed, Schweitzer--to name a few—have taught us for centuries about the sanctity of life, all life.  This is not a new message.  But it is a message that has not been taken to heart, has not been believed by a huge majority of humankind.  We desperately need a global change of mind.

Our belief that we have the legitimate right to satisfy our greed at the expense of others is so blatantly false that it defies rational explanation.  There will be no peace on Earth so long as there are a significant number of people who believe that they have the right to unlimited acquisition. Fairness, not greed, is the critical need of our day.  We desperately need a global change of mind.

We are not self-sufficient entities who have no responsibility for others. We are not a law unto ourselves.  There are no “others”.  We are all members of the same race—the human race—and we were created for relationship.  The existence of power—military, political, physical, judicial—does not legitimize its use for its own selfish purposes.  If our lifestyles require that we deprive those less powerful or those unborn of a fair share of our world’s wealth, then the belief that legitimizes those lifestyles must change.  Belief in fairness as opposed to belief in the selfish right to unlimited acquisition is the order of the day if the human race is to survive.  We desperately need a global change of mind.

What is this needed change of mind?   The World Citizenship Creed is at least one effort to put into words a belief that, if acted upon by a significant number of the world’s citizens, will address all of the problems cited above.  It says…

As a citizen of the world...

I BELIEVE in the dignity of all humanity, that each person is a being of supreme worth.

I BELIEVE in the wholeness of the human race, undivided by economic, cultural, racial, sexual or national differences.

I BELIEVE in the stewardship of life and resources to the end that all may mutually benefit from the earth's bounty ...that no person may have to go without food or shelter.

I BELIEVE in the primacy of human relationships as a person committed and responsible to other persons, regardless of their economic status, race, creed or nationality.

I BELIEVE in the global community, interdependent and mutually responsible for our physical and social environments.

I BELIEVE that we are One World and affirm that I am a citizen of this world. My allegiance to it and its people, my brothers and sisters, is primary over all other political entities.

I AM, therefore committed to the promotion and care of the whole of humanity without partiality or prejudice and with such resources as I have at my command, both within and without.

I HEREWITH AFFIRM that I wish, as much as I possibly can, to base my actions on my beliefs and thus contribute to a world where justice and compassion rule and greed and hatred are diminished.

I have committed myself to world citizenship and to this creed and I invite others to join me in owning it for themselves.  These are my beliefs, my inner mandate for action, my guide to how I want to relate to the world and all its peoples.  We will see a global change of mind for good as first one and then another and then another--one person at a time--recognizes the need for a change of mind and commits himself or herself to world citizenship.

We are citizens of the world.  This is the reality we must believe. If together we challenge the legitimacy of the use of power for selfish purposes and, in its place, advocate for the legitimacy of world citizenship, we can change the world.  May it happen quickly.

James L. Foster, Founder
World Citizenship Institute
www.worldcitizenshipinstitute.org

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