Archive for the ‘From our own world’ Category
By Richard Falk
Six months ago, the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) asked Virginia Tilley and me to write a study examining the applicability of the international criminal law concept of apartheid to Israel’s policies and practices toward the Palestinian people. We were glad to accept the assignment, and conceived of our role as engaging in an academic undertaking. ESCWA, one of several UN regional commissions, requested the study as a result of an uncontested motion adopted by its 18 Arab member governments.
Almost within hours of its release on March 15, our report [bearing the title “Israel’s Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”] was greeted by what can only be described as hysteria and derision.
By Johan Galtung
March 13, 2017
Wikipedia has much to offer under “aging”. Highly recommended are the 10 points by the world’s oldest living man, 114, Walter Breuning.
However, older persons, like me at 86, know their own aging best. Less trouble with “oxidant stress” as a major cause, having used anti-oxidants based on blueberry skin – no chemicals – for decades. 20,000 blood stem cells renew my blood, but they are dying. Problematic.
Rule no. 1: Keep mind and body active; maintain a good nutrition.
Obvious to counteract aging. However, equally important:
Rule no. 2: Be open to the positive sides and advantages of aging.
Bertrand Russell’s “On Being 90” in the Observer dispenses with the disadvantages as obvious, in favor of his advantage: the overview.
At the age of 5 he sat on the knee of a man who had fought Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. The longer the lives we have lived, the more events have impinged upon us. An “overview” identifies some link, a narrative, a common factor.
That identification is often referred to as “wisdom”.
However: thigh muscles weaken, walking falters, fatigue, seeing and hearing impaired. Exercise helps, but aging is unavoidable.
Rule no. 3: At least do not fall; not breaking fragile bones, no ending up bedridden in a hospital, contracting new diseases. Equip the room, the home, the context with handles and handrails.
Then the mental aspects of aging: memories failing, not only of recent events, less ability to handle many and simultaneous stimuli.
As a result, many and more mistakes reinforcing the sense of aging.
Rule no. 4: Simplify the context, contract the circle of living. Be realistic, change the structure of daily life, narrow the circle to what can be handled easily: the ward, the village, the context, the home, the room–but then equipped with a maximum of music, books, social media, as enriching as possible. Read the rest of this entry »
By John Scales Avery
In his book, “The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government”, Mike Lofgren called attention to the fact that much of the real power in Washington is not controlled by the President and members of Congress, but is in the hands of multi-billion-dollar organizations that are not only huge, but also unelected and secret, for example the CIA, NSA and FBI.
The enormous power of the deep state is undemocratic by definition, since its organizations operate without public knowledge or control. Its power is not only undemocratic but also extremely threatening to the lives of Americans, and also to to the lives of people throughout the world.
This serious threat comes from the fact that the deep state seems to be under the control of the Military-Industrial Complex. It promotes aggressive policies that risk nuclear war.
Most people of good will in the United States and elsewhere oppose Donald Trump’s racism, bigotry, climate change denial and neo-fascism.
It is a mistake, however, to attack his wish for better relations with Russia. A nuclear war between Russia and the United States would be a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions, from which human civilization would hardly recover. In a situation of tension, such a war could occur through human error, technical failure, or escalation, although neither government planned for it or wished for it.
I’ve written about militarism’s hostages and the risk nuclear weapons and command structures pose to humanity’ survival here.
And here is an analysis of the flaws of the concept of nuclear deterrence. In addition, nuclear weapons are illegal and their use unethical.
The above-mentioned military-industrial complex (MIC) that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the world against in his farewell speech in 1961 is dealt with in some detail here.
Recently the CIA forced the resignation of General Mike Flynn by making public some (illegal) telephone wiretaps of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador. Here an insightful analysis in the Deep State perspective.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich commented:
“What’s at the core of this is an effort by some in the intelligence community to upend any positive relationship between the U.S. And Russia… There are some people trying to separate the U.S. And Russia so that the military industrial intel axis can cash in. There’s a game going on inside the intelligence community where there are those who want to separate the U.S. From Russia in a way that would reignite the Cold War.”
Here is the video in which he talks about these deeply serious aspects of American politics and tells the American people to wake up!
In order to avoid the threat of a catastrophic nuclear war with Russia, it is vitally important that the American people should regain democratic control of their government.
A few minor changes have been made here to Avery’s original and links inserted to help the reader navigate to the important sources.
We want you to be aware of the incredibly comprehensive and diverse production of analysis by John Scales Avery can be found here. Also, be aware of his huge three-part Collected Essays from Irene Publishing.
His lifelong work for global peace, nuclear abolition, harmony with our planet and global ethics would certainly qualify for a Nobel Peace Prize in the spirit of Alfred Nobel’s will.
By Johan Galtung
The National Society of High School Scholars, Claes Nobel World Betterment Award
The Carter Center
3 Dec 2016
I am very grateful for the 2016 Claes Nobel World Betterment Award – Claes being the great grandnephew of Alfred – and to the NSHSS-National Society for High School Scholars, here at the Carter Center in Atlanta.
Let me start by praising you for your dedication to Education, focusing on the high school–in the middle, after K and grade school, before college and graduate school–on teachers and students, learning and doing research, treating them with respect, bestowing dignity.
Society has institutions, like Family, Work and Economy. Sports get too much attention, Education too little.
Politics is about leading and being led, Military is about killing not to be killed.
These two get you into trouble. I have heard this afternoon much about leading, leaders, led. Führer and Duce are German and Italian for leader, “duce” also from educare, educate. Hitler and Mussolini.
Be careful. This is vertical and hierarchical even without nazism and fascism. Today we want horizontal social landscapes, with people relating equitably and harmoniously, through shared memberships and networks, both horizontal and inclusive. For mutual inspiration.
As to killing: the USA killed more than 20 million in 37 countries only after 1945 WWII; and has intervened 248 times militarily in other countries since Thomas Jefferson started in Libya in 1801. 20 million killed means 200 million bereaved–family, friends, neighbors, colleagues. They do not take easily to this type of US leadership.
And less than a century earlier two groups of Americans practiced those very same skills and leadership on each other. The Civil War.
Such was history. How about solving the underlying conflicts?
Instead of the 1850 compromise of shame, “keep slavery but give up the confederacy”, how about “keep much autonomy, but give up slavery”; for a Community of American States, not U.S.A but C.A.S? And in 1924, how about dropping the Versailles Treaty, removing Hitler’s best card? Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
International Sociological Association Prize
New School for Social Research, New York NY, 15 Nov 2016
The West, and Western sciences in particular, have a peculiar way of conceptualizing time; derived from two millennia Christianity.
Thus, in the civilizations of Hinduism, Buddhism, China and Japan, to mention some, time flows from eternity to eternity. In the West (and Islam is similar), there is a Beginning (Creation for the religious, Big Bang for the secular), and an Ending, the End Time (Armageddon for the religious, entropy, death, etc. for others).
In others, time flows from past into a possibly different future; in the West, the future is continuous with the past. In the natural sciences, “laws” from the past are automatically valid for the future; reality being as stable as the planetary system, the galaxy; astronomy being the model. The Creation has been finished, once and for all.
In the social sciences, the future is largely off limits, taboo; predictions are often discarded as “wild speculations”. Extension of built-in trends into the future is permitted, but not forecasting with qualitative jumps. The underlying assumption is stable equilibrium, things have found their place and that’s it. Thus, no forecasting of (early) modernity during the Middle Ages, let alone working for it.
That is in theory, but the practice is different. People design their individual careers – life trajectories – and have always done so. For collective life there is politics, designing future societies.
But the social sciences are not supposed to be in it. They approach past and present with Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
On UN Day and his own 86th birthday
The last one hundred years life expectancy has increased by about 25%-from near 80 to near 100-in some countries. But, instead of increasing playful childhood, education, work and retirement by 25%, the age of retirement has moved much less than the age at death. That deprives masses of older people with experience and wisdom of productive work, of being useful, meeting others constructively; reducing them to being playful–bridge or golf as case may be–and just keeping alive.
Homo sapiens as homo ludens not homo faber. Longer, but emptier lives.
A crime against humanity if there ever was any. However, with two clear remedies: continue working self-employed with pension as salary, or find meaning in dedication to something beyond oneself, some cause, volunteer work. That should be planned well in advance before entering a “career” that peaks before, or at, retirement; the rest being downhill even steeply.
Life is expansion from a fertilized egg to a mature human being and contraction to ever narrower space around oneself till time is up. Western history has many narratives about expansion from some little point to a full-blown empire and contraction to ever narrower spaces. The two model each other with empire expansion giving meaning to life, and contraction, death of empires making life meaningless, with waves of massive suicide ending the Habsburg, Nazi, Apartheid empires. Hitler, in 1940 the head of the largest European empire ever, in 1945 only of his bunker, may have been a suicide model. But it was deeper.
We are now living the accelerating history of the end of the US empire, Read the rest of this entry »
By Maired Maguire
“War is illegal and immoral, it has to end and it can be ended.’
Speech at the international meeting “Thirst For Peace”, Assisi September 18-20, 2016. Promoted by Community of Sant Egidio and Diocese of Assisi and Franciso Families.
I am happy to be here at this International Meeting and I would like to thank our hosts, for their invitation to attend. I have always been inspired by the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare, whom I believe are Icons of Christian Gospel Peace and Nonviolence.
Francis the man of action, steeped in empathy and love for all, and Clare a woman of prayer, whose love of God led her into the depth of mysticism and peace.
Francis and Clare lived in a time of violence and war, yet they choose to live the nonkilling/nonviolence of Jesus. Francis as a youth fighting in his local military, knew well how to wield a sword, yet he choose to follow the command of Jesus to Peter, when he told him to put up his sword and healed the Soldier’s ear.
He left the military to live in poverty and service, and together with Clare, and his followers refused to take up arms. Francis and Clare, in the midst of much feudal violence, choose to follow the Christian nonviolence manifesto ‘the Sermon on the Mount’.
For many people in Europe and the world, challenged by growing violence and injustice, the lives of these two great 13th century Saints gives us hope and inspiration.
Pope Francis, following in the steps of St. Francis, gives us all hope as he challenges us to work for the abolition of the death penalty, ending poverty, the arms race, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction, etc.,
However, I believe we need a clear renunciation of the ‘just war’ theory (a phoney piece of morality in the words of the late Fr. John L. McKenzie) and I add my voice to those appealing to Pope Francis for an Encyclical on Peace and Nonviolence, calling Christians to rejection militarism and war and to follow a Peace theology in keeping with the teachings of the Nonviolent Jesus.
This would give great Spiritual leadership not only to Europe but to Humanity.
I believe Europe today Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
It’s 31 years today – September 12 – that Christina Spännar and I founded TFF and gathered experts and friends from many walks of life and world corners and set out to make a difference.
1985 were in the midst of European peace and anti-nuclear activities and a moment of history when one could begin to feel the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact cracking, fragmenting and giving way to something new.
Whatever survives this long under very very difficult circumstances of independence and freedom in our world must have some qualities.
During these more than three decades, we’ve been witnesses to world history in international affairs such as the end of the first Cold War with the fall of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the genocide in Burundi and Rwanda, NATOs expansion as well as 9/11, the War On Terror and – sadly – all the failed wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to just mention a few.
But we have also seen the world order change, the trend towards a multipolar world, the betterment after the end of formal colonialism, people living longer and better, the rise of non-Western powers, the good sides of globalisation and modern communication technology etc.
We’ve done research – everything we do is research-based – public education, academic courses, mediation in major conflicts such as Kosovo and a lot of outreach: Social media, videos, media commentaries etc. And we still remember how we sent out newsletter that we had typed on thin stencils and manifolded on a stencil printer, the pages sorted and put into envelopes with address labels. The kids in our street helped us and got some good food (or child labour!) and we could do 1100 in one day in the basement and bring them to the post office the next. Then came the fax machine…
Those were the days.
Today about 10.000 people all over the world get TFF PressInfo several times a month; while it does take a couple of hours to edit and format, they go out in one batch within a couple of minutes at the click of a button. And we are later told who and how many have opened them or clicked on their links!
TFF was among the first academic institutions to actively use the Internet, Read the rest of this entry »
The Livia Foundation was initiated by The Danish Centre for Conflict Resolution with an aim to enhance its efforts to directly address conflicts in societies through nonviolent interventions – in Denmark and beyond.
The name LIVIA refers to the olive twig, an ancient symbol of ‘approaching peacefully’. Also, at the end of the biblical flood, a dove returned to Noah’s Ark with the twig from an olive tree to signify ‘end of troubles’.
The Livia Foundation aims to create hope by promoting nonviolent conflict resolution in the world:
• making visible all the courageous, nonviolent efforts in evidence on all continents;
• supporting projects and individuals who demonstrate that severe social conflicts can be efficiently resolved through a wealth of ideas and dialogue;
• inspiring politicians, media, organizations and the general public to apply constructive, nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution
• creating conflict preparedness, locally and internationally Economy and organization
The LIVIA Foundation has raised app. DKK 700.000 or well over US$ 100.000. The bulk of these funds is spent on awards and other events, while DKK 250.000 is tied up as the foundation’s statutory capital in the Merkur Bank.
The capital comes from personal donations, from the author fees of the book ‘Conflict and Contact’, from foundations and from the Centre for Conflict Resolution.
The Livia Foundation is a civic, non-political, non-religious, non-profit initiative. We work to promote new ways to support creative, constructive nonviolent conflict resolution.
The foundation is headed by its Board assisted by a large number of active persons, who are particularly active around the prize awards. All are volunteers.
More about Livia and who has been awarded its Prize earlier here.
The worldwide examples of nonviolent action are admirable, but only rarely do they reach the front pages of the media.
This is where the Livia Foundation is working to make a difference:
We will make the life-affirming ideas and solutions known to a larger public, by drawing attention and giving a voice to people working within creative conflict resolution.
Else Hammerich, TFF Associate and former TFF Board member, has been in the forefront of both the Centre’s and the Livia Foundation’s establishment and TFF is proud to help promote knowledge about it and identifying the best possible candidates for the Livia Prize.
See at the end of this presentation how you may nominate someone for this prestigious Prize. Read the rest of this entry »
John Scales Avery
John Scales Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965.
He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen.
Fellowships, memberships in societies
Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004-.
You’ll find a lot about this eminent scholar at Wikipedia. Avery is also a leading peace researcher and activist – “Since 1990, Avery has been the Contact Person for Denmark the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, Avery was part of a group that shared in the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in the 1990s in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.
In 1998, Avery was elected to the Danish Peace Commission. During the years 1988-97, Avery was the Technical Advisor at the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe. In 2004, Avery became the Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy.
In his usual humble and plain style John tells the story of his life – his personal life, his scholarly life and his peace life – here.
Dr. Avery seems to have ben writing day and night throughout his life – here is his amazing list of books, chapters and articles on world affairs.
In early 2016, Irene Publishing – run by TFF Associates Jørgen Johansen and Majken Jul Sørensen – published Avery’s Collected Essays as well as The Need For A New Economic System.
John joined TFF as TFF Associate in March 2016.