Global Action Day for the Future of the Earth
Second Appeal of the Global Initiative
See also this recent complementary information on the People Walk.
"The greatest insanity is surely to see the world only as it is, and not as it might be."
Miguel de Cervantes
On World Peace Day in September 1996, 150,000 young people throughout the world took part in a global school strike for peace. Their combined actions, with cooperation from parents, teachers and schools, focussed on a petition to the United Nations calling for nations to disarm and to redeploy the money and resources so saved for ecological rehabilitation of the planet. The spontaneous wave of sympathy for this initiative attracted considerable public attention. In 1997 the Global Initiative again proposes that World Peace Day, Tuesday 16th September, be declared a Global Action Day for the Future of the Earth . This year the further involvement of adults is encouraged to give further thrust to the momentum launched by youth in 1996. Here is how you can join in the actions on this day:
Help spread the idea. Sign and return to us the petition (attached) with your name, address and signature. (Note for last year's signatories: this is an updated version. Please sign again. Many thanks.) Join in the one minute of silence at midday (your time). Organise spontaneous - or more formal - celebrations, events, information activities, whatever is appropriate to you, as local expression of your engagement for the future of the earth. The school strike will once again take place, as appropriate to each locality and school.
Please inform us of your plans, so we may record your action and also tell you what is happening elsewhere.
Also, NEW, and not limited to Peace Day: Create a local Peace Cell. Peace Cells are small groups of five or six friends, colleagues or family (people you would say are your group ) who peacefully stand behind the Global Initiative`s Goal. Give you Peace Cell a name. Let us know it along with the names of its members and location, so that everyone can be counted.
Encourage others in your locality to form Peace Cells in the same way. (Copy and circulate this form for example). Peace Cells are self-organising and autonomous. Their main function is to exist and be counted. As their numbers grow, the public sympathy for global disarming and ecological rehabilitation will become visible and start to influence political decisionmaking. (Your Peace Cell may also actively do things, but doesn't have to.)
Please join us in these activities or invent your own! Do something to create a safe and healthy environment for our future and that of our children!
Please support the Global Initiative through your actions. You can realise the minute of silence alone, with friends, or organise a big event. Small social or environmental projects make sense anyway and help to create a better world.
If you want to support the Global Initiative financially, please let us know (see our address at the end of this). Until now, the work has all been done on a voluntary basis. Yet in the future a more professional office is urgently needed. Our advisory board - a mixed group of young people and adults - is being strenghtened these days.
PETITION TO THE SECURITY
COUNCIL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
To the Security Council of the UN
Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General,
UN Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10017, USA
We ask you to listen to us, children, youth and adults of this planet. We would like you to listen to our Global Initiative for Immediate Disarmament. The aim of this initiative is as follows:
The Initiative demands that the weapons of the earth should be destroyed immediately or disabled so that they can never be used again. All kinds of military force are to be disbanded with the exception of a small detachment of UN troops which can serve peace in troubled areas with the remainder of weapons at its disposal. The money saved is to be used to preserve the planet from environmental destruction. The Global Initiative is to be dissolved on the 2005 International Day of Peace at the latest.
We ask the members of the Security Council the following questions: * Would you insist on keeping your nuclear weapons if the other nuclear powers disarmed?
* Would you agree on disarmament if the other nations also agreed on it?
As a first step, we ask you to take this topic on the agenda of the Security Council. We appreciate your work for peace. Our aim is to support this work and to cooperate with you. Therefore we are organising this year, as a continuation of the School Strike for Disarmament 1996 , a World Action Day for the Future of the Earth on Tuesday, 16 September, 1997. We ask you to discuss on this day, in the General Assembly, the abolition of all weapons in the spirit of our initiative.
This petition has been launched by the Global Initiative. A selection of first signatories:
Miha Pogacnik (Slowenia, Idriart ), Hamburg - International Peace Bureau (IPB), Geneva - Swiss Peace Movement - International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Canada - Peace Action, USA - Franz Hohler, Switzerland - Dimitri, Clown, Switzerland - Dr. Ruth Gonseth, Dr. Peter Vollmer, Roland Wiederkehr, representatives of the State of Switzerland - George Farebrother, World Court Project, GB - Luise Rinser, writer, Germany/Italy - Dr. Patch Adams, USA - Dr. Robert Muller, Peace University, Costa Rica - Georg Kreisler, writer, Switzerland - Udo Jurgens, singer, Switzerland/Austria Continuous supporters of the Global Initiative are His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Michail Gorbachev.
Process-Oriented Politics and Festive Revolution
by Roland Schutzbach of the "Global Initiative".
"The greatest insanity is surely to see the world only as it is and not as it might be". Miguel Cervantes.
The idea for the Global Initiative was born in 1994. I had been writing a philosophical diary on the theme: Working with the Essential. I was preoccupied with the fundamental questions: What is most essential, most important? What is most important - what is the heart of the matter - today?
I had written: ' When compared to times of war, we in the western democracies appear to be living in a time of peace and stability. But in fact we know all too well that in reality we are living in the midst of chaos: the natural resources of the planet are becoming depleted; we are facing the possibility of an environmental disaster. In spite of this we appear to bask in a false sense of security. The level of debate about the problem and the political and social responses to it remain largely superficial. The problem is that we have lost touch with reality, we are not actually engaging with what is real. We are fragmented as individuals, our attention scattered on a thousand, largely ephemeral, preoccupations. We fail to recognize the big issues, fail to pursue them consistently and fail to take effective action to deal with them.'
The questions which these thoughts raised would not go away. As I occupied myself more and more deeply with them, the basic formulation of the initiative emerged with its twin demands: immediate global disarmament and the devotion of the financial and human resources saved thereby to the ecological restoration of the planet.
Two books played a role in formulating these ideas: 'The Peace Book' by Bernard Benson and 'The Conference of the Animals' by Erich Kastner.
In 'The Peace Book', written at the beginning of the Eighties, Benson tells the story of a small boy who is so horrified and outraged by the madness of the nuclear arms race that he appears on television, is invited by a number of powerful heads of state and finally succeeds in promoting a mass popular movement which leads to total disarmament. The 'Day of Peace' is celebrated in a world-wide festival.
In Kastner's 'Conference of the Animals', the animals decide that they can no longer tolerate the political stupidity of the humans. They organise a conference to decide how they can save the children from the madness of their parents. When the politicians refuse to accede to the animals' demands, the animals kidnap all the children. The politicians are forced to make peace.
Both stories carry some fundamental messages: - the individual is not powerless. On the contrary, the individual can achieve great things when he or she acts from a powerful motive and with complete conviction.
- the politicians are trapped in their own rigid thought-patterns which are conditioned by the traditions of power politics and are mostly incapable of seeing the larger picture or of making the necessary connections between phenomena.
- the solution lies in the discovery of the power of solidarity. People (in Kastner's book the animals) realise their common humanity and interest and are inspired to discover their power to effect change and to formulate the ideas which can take humanity forward into a future with promise and hope instead of fear.
The text of the initiative also borrowed from Kastner's book. Here the animals draw up a list of five demands e.g. for the abolition of all state borders, for demilitarisation and the ending of war. After an intense process of deliberation, we finally decided on just one main aim: to abolish all weapons and use the monies thus saved to restore the ecological health of the planet. I had in mind the major environmental threats to the Earth such as the widening ozone hole and global warming. The original text, with some minor modifications, remains the central aim of the Global Initiative.
The statistics I had then showed that in 1994 the global expenditure per year on 'defence' was around one thousand million dollars ($1,000,000,000). According to a calculation made at the Earth Summit in Rio, the cost of a global programme to save the environment would be only six hundred million dollars a year.
These figures were well known in the relevant circles, but no-one appeared to be drawing the appropriate conclusions. People in power seemed to have resigned themselves to the inevitability of both continued arms manufacture, sale and deployment and the threat of environmental catastrophe.
I was convinced of the desperately urgent need for world politics to take the decisive step into the future by converting destructive energies into constructive ones.
I felt it was important to start a public process using the catalyst of the central demand. Unlike other movements, my starting-point was not some institutional vision. I was not demanding a reform of the UN or a world government, for example. Neither did I propose any strategy for the process of disarmament, since I was convinced that such a strategy could only be found once sufficient influential politicians had begun to treat the problem with the seriousness it deserved. (There are already proposals, e.g. in the report of the Canberra Commission, for a precise timetable for nuclear disarmament.)
My concern - using the model developed in 'The Peace Book' - was for ordinary people themselves to take the initiative, to become inwardly and outwardly active and that out of this movement a process would develop in which the 'New' - the ideas and actions which can take us forward into the future - would emerge naturally. That is why such concepts as the 'Silent Minute' seemed and seem so important to me. In that shared moment of silence people can begin to have a different sense of who and where they are and how they relate to each other than through the medium of concept and debate. Potentially they can experience, even if for only a moment, what unites them as human beings. It is this experience of unity which then provides the springboard for appropriate action.
I call this phenomenon 'process-oriented politics'. It is a form of political action, which arises intuitively out of the experience of what is appropriate and necessary. In this process the 'essential' - what is really true and needed at this precise point in time - arises spontaneously and repeatedly, always fresh and relevant.
Both in 'The Conference of the Animals' and in 'The Peace Book' there is an important role for the media. The little boy appears on television. The animals at first send telegrams and finally speak in a globally broadcast radio transmission.
We know that two out of every three persons on the planet can be reached by radio and television. Some important sporting events attract hundreds of millions of viewers.
Benson, Kastner and other writers persuaded us of the importance of attracting the attention of the media to the message of our Global Initiative. In order to achieve any significant success, we had to reach large numbers of people.
It was my daughter Franziska who in the summer of 1995 came up with the idea of the 'Global School Strike for Disarmament'. Her idea caught on and spread rapidly far and wide through youth magazines and other means. The school strike of September 1996 became a media event in several countries. So far so good.
But this sudden success and notoriety brought its own problems. The young people in particular were often severely challenged with regard to their own convictions.
We therefore took a deliberate decision to slow the pace down after the first school strike, to give ourselves the space to contact that point of 'reality' again and find out what needed to be done next. We knew then and know even more now that a daring strategy such as the Global Initiative can only succeed if it is completely internally consistent, if the ideas which inspire it are serious and genuine. Media involvement cannot be an end in itself or a primary goal. There can also be periods when outwardly nothing appears to be happening. We are learning the necessary techniques daily.
We have adopted a motto from Hermann Hesse: 'One must start with the impossible in order to reach the possible'. In a sense the successful school strike has already proven the truth of these words. Hardly anyone would have thought it possible for a handful of people to generate such a response.
But this is not enough by far. The task is none other than to preserve our planet and to build a genuine world community. Many more 'impossibles' have to become reality. This will not be achieved by small groups working alone. All the existing peace and environmental groups must join forces in a global networking activity. The Day of Peace can become a day of massive worldwide action for peace, whether it is simply by peaceful demonstrations on the streets or some other constructive action which shows to the world that we care about the future of our planet.
The demand for total disarmament and for the restoration of the environment is only a first step, a basic minimum requirement. Everyone knows that there are thousands of other problems to be solved. What is important is that a clear and visible start is made, a start which can be taken seriously and which can inspire new courage and hope in people.
The theme of the Global Initiative is a kind of catalyst, which can initiate a process of transformation. It raises the hope of a different, more positive way of living and acting as human beings. This new way of being is more joyful and celebratory. It is inspired by the vision of life as it can be and should be, as Cervantes expressed it. If we allow ourselves to be moved and inspired by it, our lives can become a 'Festival of Renewal'.
This what life intends. It does not mean us to be the defenceless and powerless victims of developments which we have ourselves initiated. We are not meant simply to surrender to anonymous forces beyond our control. On the contrary, we have the task and the opportunity of bringing something truly new and revolutionary into being at this moment of historical crisis.
In September 1996 the Global Initiative made headlines in Switzerland and across the globe. More than 150,000 mainly young people followed the call for a one-day 'School Strike for the Goal of the Global Initiative' and took to the streets. The Council of the Initiative was invited to the UN in New York to present the petition with the 20,000 signatures collected up to that point asking for immediate disarmament.
On 'Peace Day', 17th September 1996, in conjunction with the school strike, an international 'Minute of Silence for Peace' was held at midday local time in many countries. In Switzerland, in several African countries, in Germany and in India the press reported the activities of the young people. In many places the action committees of the Initiative developed their own forms of action including torchlight processions, ecological projects, debates and other school initiatives. The Global Initiative was awarded the prize donated by the Heineken beer company for the 1996 'Futurist of the Year' and publicised over the Internet. Permanent supporters of the Initiative include Mikhail Gorbachev and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The Global Initiative is calling for a 'Global Action Day for the Future of the Earth' on International Peace Day, Tuesday 16th September 1997. Once again there will be a 'Global School and Young People's Strike for Total Disarmament' on the same day. The Global Initiative is also calling for the 'Minute of Silence for Peace' to be observed at midday local time throughout the world and requests the media to invite young people to take part in presentations as part of a: 'Hear The Children' initiative.
For further information contact:
The Global Initiative (Headquarters)
Fax: 004132 313 2458
e-mail: Roland Schutzbach <firstname.lastname@example.org>
or in the U.K.:
The Global Initiative
27 Thirlestane Road, Edinburgh
TO SEE WHAT HAS BEEN DONE UP TO 1996 TO ORGANIZE THIS REMARKABLE INITIATIVE, VISIT THIS OLD WEB SITE
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