Monday, December 16, 2013

Mandela, soul singing, and peace in the world

Spine-tingling flashmob tribute to Nelson Mandela by the Soweto Gospel Choir.
Play is while you read, but watch for the expression on the face of the boy at 1:16.

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang' uMandela thina (We have not seen Mandela)
Laph'ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph'ehleli khona (In the place where he is kept)

Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the Island into the Bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water


A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me


It is striking that the two greatest men of our age - Gandhi and Mandela - are men of peace, yet the dominant culture of our age is geared for war - either explicitly, in the military-industrial-media complex, or implicitly, in the mindless consumerism driven by the bank-corporation-media complex. This contradiction is reflected in the banal behaviour of the politicians gathering at his memorial service.

Gandhi and Mandela were - are - great souls. They inspire us in our hearts, but their spirit, vision and wisdom also need to inform our policies at the highest level of politics in order to bring about peace and justice.

It is pretty easy to see what needs to be done, politically. 

First, we need to understand that peace is possible, in order to create the political will.

Then we need political reforms. There are many changes needed, some difficult and complex, such as reforming the United Nations Security Council.

But there are three relatively simple reforms that would carry us a long way in the direction of peace and justice.

First, the UN needs to uphold human rights worldwide by instituting a Global Index of Human Rights. This is already adopted by the Green Party of England and Wales, and also in principle by the Global Congress of Green Parties, but it is not promoted.

Second, the UN needs to have specific policies to manage dictators, with a set of measures to discourage development of dictatorial policies, encourage moves towards democracy, and deals non-violently, as far as is possible, with regimes that have no legitimacy due to using lethal force against non-violent protesters. The policy is outlined here.

Third, the UN needs to create an agency to facilitate negotiations over separatism. About one third of modern wars are related to separatist ambitions. The case is outlined here.

These are by no means claimed to be the only changes needed, but they are simple and achievable. 

It is easy to conceive these ideas, but it is just as easy to lose faith and hope in the possibility of their realisation, given the general awfulness of the practice of politics in the Banana Monarchy that is the UK in 2013. 

But people like the Soweto Gospel Choir urge us to keep trying.

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