Idealism, Political Philosophy, and Fairness
Earth Manifesto Insights
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
hold the following truths to be self-evident. Please consider them, and think about their implications for the
breeds anger and frustration in its victims. And anger and frustration lead to conflict, crime, and violence --
and a high potential for violence in reaction. Terrorism is a desperate tool of the weak against the powerful,
one that often seeks to pressure the powerful to mitigate the injustices of
their actions. It uses indiscriminate
violence to gain attention, and sometimes it is successful in getting the
causes that the terrorists champion to be effectively addressed. It is destructive, yet it works sometimes
because it uses the influence of pain inflicted and financial costs and
resulting fear and insecurity to help achieve its goals.
people predictably react against terrorism in the same way they react to all
threats to their dominance: with moral
outrage, self-righteousness, strong conviction, and great defensive and
offensive violence. The drive is strong
for the privileged to be ruthless in protecting their prerogatives, position,
and economic interests. And they strive
with great commitment and loyalty to suppress opposition -- ironically causing
injustices not unlike those perpetrated by terrorists.
creates a cycle of escalating conflict.
To break this cycle, we need committed and cooperative efforts and smart
far-sighted initiatives. In contrast,
self-serving, myopic, power-obsessed, self-righteous, vindictive and authoritarian
aggression only serves to exacerbate the situation.
regard terrorist violence against the powerful as evil. Violence against the weak is often regarded, in
contrast as the status quo of capitalism, or competitive necessity, or
self-defense, or dog-eat-dog competition, or proper discipline, or some
perverse form of "just desserts". C'est la vie, we say, as we figuratively look the other way. Yet right and wrong are seen never to be
absolute, and moral arguments are often contradictory or hypocritical or
bigoted or dangerously divisive.
we not be better off to strive to find ways to cultivate friendships, rather
than to make enemies? Bullying, intimidating,
goading, manipulating, punishing, bribing, thwarting and humiliating other
peoples may prove to be less intelligent of us -- and far less safe and effective
-- than listening to them, helping them, respecting them, working together, trying
to understand, sympathizing with them, and demonstrating help and concern. At the very least we should simply refrain
from inflicting great injustices and harm on other peoples. This is likely both the least costly and the
most humanitarian course of action.
can we truly see the truth of these words? And can we gain any insight that will illuminate better courses of
most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, told the world in a videotape just
after 9/11 that Americans shall NEVER be safe as long as: 1) they support corrupt and repressive and
dictatorial regimes in the Islamic world; 2) they give one-sided support to Israel against the Palestinians;
and 3) they impose American dictates on
the Middle East through military might and brutal economic sanctions.
leaders, of course, created Orwellian "doublethink" about the 9/11
attacks, saying that the attacks were due to Islamic fundamentalists
"hating our liberties." They thereby framed the debate to gain
support for their aggressive doctrine of preemptive war.
reaction to terrorist actions and threats, we eagerly borrow hundreds of
billions of dollars to spend on warfare, despite the obvious probability that
it would be far cheaper and safer, in the long run, to strive for peace and
goodwill amongst the nations of the world by mitigating the injustices that the
powerful perpetrate through their economic exploitation, resource extraction,
arrogant dominance, assertions of supremacy, and unfair, hard-nosed defense of
the status quo.
between countries can be seen to mirror situations in our societies that
involve injustices caused by extreme disparities of wealth and poverty. To solve social problems, conservatives
believe that it is best to protect citizens and their privileges and property
with authoritarian strength. They
consequently support harsh laws against crimes, and strict punishments. They strive to maximize the amount of
spending on police, prisons, the military, the FBI, the CIA, secret
interdiction and enforcement efforts, and the military. Conservatives insist that we should defend
the status quo vigorously, opposing cooperative problem solving. They are closed-minded in their doctrinal
convictions, and unwilling to compromise. They use fear to manipulate the populace into supporting their
often authoritarian actions.
in contrast, believe that the best protection of citizens is in balanced
authority, laws that are just, fair initiatives of education and opportunity,
prevention of the abuses of power by the federal government, progressive
taxation, and social programs that mitigate the extremes of wealth and poverty.
Policies embracing these goals help
reduce unrest and the danger caused by unfairness and injustice. Progressives recognize that it is unwise to
risk the stability and well-being of our society by cultivating ever-greater
inequities in today's world.
reality is that there will be 50% more people on Earth within 50 years. This makes almost all of our problems worse,
and significantly intensifies conflicts. We must not address these challenges with stubborn attitudes of
self-righteousness, confrontational intransigence, and unwillingness to
compromise. We must respect the
sovereignty of other nations!
best political philosophy is arguably to be fiscally conservative and socially
progressive. On the other hand, it
seems almost irrefutable that one of the worst political philosophies would be
to be extremely fiscally irresponsible, and simultaneously socially
reactionary. The November 2004
elections bizarrely gave greater impetus to the latter tendencies.
friends of mine had a debate about the legacy that President George W. Bush
would leave. One felt that perhaps he
would give primary consideration to a positive legacy for America in the next
four years, one that is a bit more progressive than he has been representing. Others scoffed at this possibility, and
expressed sadness and anxious fear that he would continue to give the hawkish
neoconservatives free reign, and allow the ruling right-wing to divide
Americans more, and make the rich even richer and the poor poorer and the
environment less livable. They were
concerned that the shallow drives of materialism and consumerism would become more
prominent, and punishments harsher, and the disenfranchisement of progressives
and minorities more pronounced, and the social safety net weaker. They expressed the belief that the
intolerance of others would become more embedded, and the rights of women
fewer, and unrestricted gun ownership more irresponsible, and wars more
terrible. This, of course, would create
ever-higher levels of frustration, anger, envy, humiliation, greed, violence
and instability. Not such a good plan,
in my opinion!!
are taking a great risk to suppose that we are superior to other countries and
other cultures. We are being foolish to
think that our way of life and our government and our corrupted crony
democracy, and our oddly anti-choice, death-penalty-supporting "culture of
life" are better for others than what they have. And it is preposterous to feel that our God is better and truer than
the God others believe in. It is arrogant
to suppose, with our Western-civilization frame of reference, that we can
clearly comprehend how people in other countries think and feel. We do not know what is best for them, and we
should not interfere in their internal affairs.
as it would be wise to strive to eliminate the causes of crime, in addition to
punishing the perpetrators, it would also be wise to address the causes of terrorism, and not just to confront
the consequences. Harsh reaction to
terrorist attacks, instead of addressing the root causes of terrorism, only
makes this problem worse. It would make
practical sense to find a way to commit ourselves with great resolve to making
peace between Israelis and Palestinians, between the West and the Arabs, and
between Christianity and Islam, before we destroy ourselves, and the planet, in
a conflagration of conflict.
make no mistake about it, I do not believe in any sort of rapturous End Times. The Earth will still be making its 575
million-mile transit around the Sun for another billion years or two, and life
will almost certainly survive for eons after we have driven our own species to
extinction. We are on course to take
most species of life with us when we go, but as with the Permian and Cretaceous
extinctions, life will resiliently bounce back and evolve into new species that
can survive changing conditions.
is sad that we are in such an accelerated hurry to burst our bubble,
reproducing like an algal bloom that chokes itself off in an orgy of
consumption, depletion, and pollution. I recommend family planning and conservation and wise planning,
but a rapid progressive revolution is needed if we want to preserve a fair
quality of life for our species for even another 100 years. One thousand years, anyone? Ten thousand years? How???
should be trying to courageously make our best efforts to improve the world by
starting at home: improving our own
country, and making our own citizen's lives better. We should make this effort rather than attacking and occupying
other countries. We must give greater
respect to the wisdom of the Golden Rule, and to the rights of others.
should balance the budget, embrace smart growth, educate our people, invest in
America's infrastructure, and embrace renewable energy. We should foster innovation, not consumption;
we should try to achieve better
cooperation, rather than to aggravate conflicts; we should seek partnership, not domination; and we should become better stewards of the
natural world, and not be increasingly reckless in our exploitation.
is what I think and feel. How about
--- Dr. Tiffany