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Monday, October 19, 2020
Working To End Human Violence in the Time of Covid-19: What About You?
By Robert J. Burrowes. New Age Islam
19 October 2020
At what is arguably the most important time in human history, with Homo Sapiens confronted by an enormous range of violent challenges that threaten our very survival, the only question of any genuine importance is this: Can we craft and implement a strategy to end the violence, particularly in each and all of its extinction-threatening dimensions, to ensure that humanity has a chance to thrive on planet Earth indefinitely into the future? But few are asking that question.
And, unfortunately, if one candidly considers the evidence in several critical domains – notably the threat of nuclear war, the deployment of 5G technology, the collapse of biodiversity and the climate catastrophe – there is little genuine room for optimism. This, of course, is not a reflection on the efforts of those committed to the attempt but it is a measure of the enormity of the task given the almost endless violence perpetrated by so many human inhabitants of Earth.
Moreover, of course, for most of 2020, the ongoing efforts by those committed to working to end violence in one context or another have not only been substantially impeded by the official response – including lockdowns, curfews, social distancing and mask-wearing – to the supposed Covid-19 pandemic, they have also witnessed an explosion of additional violence of many types and in many contexts – see ‘The Elite’s COVID-19 Coup against a Terrified Humanity: Resisting Powerfully’ – that have exacerbated the violence dramatically.
Despite the unusual level of impediments, many people have remained steadfast in their efforts to raise awareness of what is at stake, to mobilize an effective response and/or to take action themselves to end the violence in one context or another. This includes individuals and organizations that have committed themselves to this effort by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ which has signatories in 105 countries around the world and organizational endorsements in 39 countries.
These committed individuals and organizations include those few briefly discussed below, with some of them particularly focused on averting one of the paths to imminent human extinction.
Jennifer Wood is an architect and writer who developed near fatal toxic shock from the antibiotic Ciprofloxin and over-exposure to 2G wireless radiation when cell tower services were switched from analog to digital technology in 1996-1997. At this time, cell phone sales skyrocketed globally as did radiation and many public health problems according to epidemiologists. Although Jennifer had never used cell phones, she had spent long hours on a computer (surrounded by unnoticed cell towers) writing for the film director, Oliver Stone who had taken an interest in her novel. She has nearly died at a weight of 77 pounds from microwave radiation poisoning three times since that time. Each torturous period has coincided with exposure to upgrades in wireless technologies. During her third bout with death in 2010-2011, she moved to a radio quiet zone near a radio astronomy observatory that bans cell phone towers. Here Jennifer built by hand, without help, a tiny non-electric cabin without running water in the woods where she lived alone, with minimal suffering, for four years, gaining weight and becoming semi-functional.
Prominent environmental journalist Robert Hunziker, noted for his capacity to track and report truthfully on the ecological health of planet Earth, recently wrote a sobering article highlighting key elements of the recent Living Planet Report 2020 which records ‘an average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish between 1970 and 2016 [with a] 94% decline… for the tropical subregions of the Americas.’ With its ‘eye-popping description of the forces of humanity versus life in nature’, Robert noted ‘the report should really be entitled the Dying Planet Report 2020 because that’s what’s happening in the real world. Not much remains alive.’ For some of the detail of this disastrous state of affairs, read ‘The Dying Planet Report 2020’. For another of Robert’s reports on planetary ill-health, see ‘Boundless Dying Trees’.
But if you are not horrified already, you should read Robert’s article ‘10C Above Baseline’ to get a clearer sense of where Earth’s climate is headed with extinction for humans at 4C above baseline.
Starting in February 2020, Joana Aboagyewaa of the Splendors of Dawn Poetry Foundation in Ghana reports making valuable contributions to schools in the eastern region through their work as poets and educators under the Foundation’s ‘SUN Project’. This educational project was undertaken in Abirem, Achiase, St Roses Senior High (Akwatia) and Akim Swedru Secondary Schools where teachers taught poetry and art, ‘that is deeply human to secondary school students’, for positive change. ‘In April, The Splendors Performance Team held their National Poetry Month activities to celebrate the importance of poets and poetry in our society and culture.’ Splendors’ ‘Poetry Exchange Day’, with poems wrapped as gifts and mailed to classmates and friends, was held in basic schools in the Greater Accra Region. In addition, Splendors’ ‘Poets in Schools’ project ‘was a huge success because we enrolled a high number of poets in secondary schools, through the poetry awareness campaign, to encourage students to write and read.’ The Covid-19 pandemic ‘has necessitated our coming up with the Splendors of Dawn online “Poets Read out” series. Splendors of Dawn Poetry Foundation, Ghana believes that we can change the world and contribute our quota for its development through poetry.’
The indefatigable Steve Varatharajan, the Vice President but, more importantly, for many years the heart and driving force behind the International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), headquartered in Malaysia, has recently announced that, at year’s end, he will ‘be stepping down from all my positions in IAEWP as I am having [serious health] problems… [related to] the aggressive 5G telecommunications network building.’ For those who don’t know Steve, it is unlikely that many people have served any global network with the talent, commitment and productivity that Steve has demonstrated within the IAEWP.
Steve has also recently announced the appointment of Dr. Alfredo Sfeir Younis – the Chilean economist, spiritual leader and healer who had a 29-year career at the World Bank including as its first environmental economist – as Executive Vice President of the IAEWP. In that capacity, Alfredo has already proposed a visionary program to advance IAEWP aims. Separately from this, Dr. Priyaranjan Trivedi, the IAEWP Senior Vice President for Continental Asia and IAEWP Director General of Education, advises that their continental association has just launched a free online buffet of 31 courses. For details, see ‘Online Peace Education, Reconstruction, Accord, Non-Violence and Disarmament Initiative’. These courses are available online for India and the rest of the world.
Liz McAlister and Martha Hennessy are two of seven Catholic nuclear disarmament activists known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. The plowshares activists entered Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia, USA on 4 April 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to ‘beat swords into plowshares’. Apart from impeding the ever-heightening threat of nuclear armageddon as the world’s international legal infrastructure against nuclear war rapidly unravels, they also hoped to call attention to the ways in which nuclear weapons kill every day by their mere existence and maintenance.
The nonviolent activists were subsequently ‘found guilty of trespass, conspiracy and destruction of federal property’ in October 2019. After spending time in prison, on 8 June 2020 Liz – the widow of Phil Berrigan – was sentenced to ‘time served, three years supervised release and for a portion of the restitution for the seven of just over $30,000’. Martha – a granddaugher of Dorothy Day – is due to be sentenced in November. You can read a detailed account of their action, an inspiring biography of each activist and follow the court outcome for Martha and the others at the website above. You can also see an evocative interview of Martha at ‘Martha Hennessy Interview’.
If you understand the critical importance of reducing human consumption as the core element of any strategy to preserve a habitable biosphere – encapsulated in Gandhi’s observation that ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every person’s need, but not every person’s greed’ – then you might consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which he inspired as well.
5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
7. I will not own or use a mobile (cell) phone
8. I will not buy rainforest timber
9. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
10. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
11. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
12. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
13. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
14. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.
While most human inhabitants of Earth remain oblivious to the pervasive violence that is destroying us and our world, including the advanced nature of the four primary threats to human existence, there is nevertheless a worldwide network of people deeply aware of this situation who are acting to address these threats.
‘Doomed to fail’, you might believe. ‘Impossible’ even. And perhaps you are right. In fact, there is considerable evidence to support these beliefs.
But as Gandhi noted: ‘Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress.’
Given that some of us, including the people above, are already working to end human violence, the main question remaining is ‘What about you?’
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his website is here.