These are some letters and emails I have sent out following the atrocity in New York, September 11 2001. I also had a few chances to speak out on air, with John Gaunt, on BBC london 94.8fm, to express my views in the weeks following the 9/11 tragedy. I wrote letters in continuation with the discussions on the radio shows. We must all speak out. Sooner or later. Even if they do not reply. It's weight of numbers that will make the peace efforts really work, especially if we keep the pressure on, staying the course. I mean, here I have published my letters, for those to see that find it. As a record of my dissent.
Wednesday 12 September 2001 to The Independent, The Times and BBC on-line
To whom it may concern,
President Bush, and by extenstion all the political leaders in Europe, now have an opportunity to show either a complete and total commitment to world peace and shared wealth for every living human and to a pluralist world society or to show the world just how tough and macho the USA, and it's allies, as the premier force in world politics, really are, by finding the perpetrators and crushing them. However that latter approach will be guaranteed to create more terrorism. History repeats itself. The loss of so many lives in such a fashion as yesterdays unjustifiable attacks on The World Trade Centre, The Pentagon and Washington demands a new level of honesty amonst the most powerful players on the world stage.
A committment to world peace and shared wealth for all peoples is something that must be demonstrated in truely tangible ways, and as resposible adults we must not, cannot avoid it any longer. Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Rwanda, Israel, South Africa, Congo, Central Europe and many other conflicts have all one thing in common - they were partitioned by the colonial powers, as a defence mechanism. Now is the time to look honestly at the immense wealth of North Americans and Europeans compared to the appalling poverty of billions of people in South America, Africa and Asia. Now is the time to face up to the reality of slavery, colonialism, Dachau, Belsen, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, The Belgrano etc, etc., which form a large part of our collective history. It is noteworthy that last week in Durban, there was massive resistance from the UK and The USA to calls for an acknowledgement of the crimes committed by our ancestors in the name of colonialism and free trade, primarily for financial reasons.
A first step could be to fully empower the UN to adjudicate on disputes, and to come to terms with the terrible history of the last 500 years, by removing the veto of the most powerfull countries…….. and entering into a frank and full discussion with the intention of healing these past wounds. The second step would have to be to call for complete ban on the manufacture and further developement of weapons, of sales of weapons to countries at war and a complete and total ostracisation of any nation actively at war. If there are no bullets left they can't be used. A possible third step would be to mobilize the millions of people who could engage in the work of restructuring our world, as an army of builders, farmers, foresters and helpers to help those nations whose people are in deepest need. A fourth step would be to ensure all our leaders had full consciousness and awareness of their motivations, their agendas and their methods.
A fully consensual society requires a level of honesty and community that might and force will never deliver. In time these steps could possibly deliver the kind of world that I would like my children to inherit. May we never, ever see the kind of events we have witnessed yesterday, ever again, anywhere.
September 15 2001 to The Times, The Sun, The Independent, The Guardian, The New York Times
To whom it may concern,
Over the course of an hour in New York, on September 11, 2001, it seemed to those closest to events, as if the world was ending. The arrival of The Prophesy. There are often times and situations when, sad to say, that has been an easy and understandable conclusion to come to. Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Dresden. Dachau. Bopal. The Gulf War. Mexico City Earthquake. The Battle of the Somme. Divorce. Bankruptcy. Death of a son or daughter or partner. Gaza. And yet life itself is a process, vast, immense beyond our comprehension, and our world is very much part of life. Our Earth is 5 billion years old, from my current scientific perspective, and from other perspectives who knows? As a catholic child I believed that the world was a million years old. No longer a catholic, no longer a child, and I still have no idea what a million or a billion years really means.
However I do know what being in a process means. What can be said about dynamic processes is that they take time and the horrible, tragic events last Tuesday are part of a process. This process is one of humanity seeing ourselves, becoming aware of the dynamics and consequences of the co-ercive attitudes in our relationships, which have dominated some of our cultures for a very, very long time.
From the way that reportage of the events frequently asked the question, "when will we get back to normal?", and from the assertion of certain world leaders that we will get back to business, dealing with the perpretrators quickly and decisively in the process, I would say that we are being conditioned to expect rapid results, and at the same time being prepared for more war - the demand for immediate reactions and solutions to situations that require depth and reflection does imply an intense need to restore the status quo, which must come from a sense of insecurity. What are we so insecure about? What are we frightened of? Or is it guilt?
It is really foul and tasteless that a large proportionof the adults of my world are apparently lacking in self-honesty and integrity, and would have us wait until some crisis, a gorey detailed tragedy of immense proportions, is played out in front of us in a way that is unavoidable, before we have an honest and frank public discussion about the nature of violence, co-ercion and abuse, its' place in our world, and its' part in our history that has brought us to the present situation. This discussion is an essential part of the process of true democracy and cannot be avoided without further tragedy. If it happens that we have to experience further trauma before we have that discussion in full, our children will curse us for our dishonesty, and maybe we will have lost the last opportunity to create a sustainable, peaceful society world-wide, a gift to all our children.
You and I, all of us are together responsible for what happens next.
The information and technology to create a safe world exists and has been tested. It is known to work. Scott Peck has written clearly and concisley about the need for community as a tool of world peace and has shown clearly the dynamics that create community. Has George W. Bush or any of his advisors read this work? Alice Miller and Jean Leidloff have written extensivly, and to my mind accurately, about the psychology of the development of violence and co-ercion that is endemic in our culture, how we pass this burden on in attitudes we feed to our children, all in order to make ourselves feel more secure. How many of our world leaders have taken the time to read her work? The Dalai Lama has written much of the need for a sense of compassion and reverence in world politics. How many of our world leaders have shown such sense? Are they consciously working to create that sense of community amongst their fellow humans? Is that their agenda?
If not, then they should really stand down, and give the job to someone else who will do the work of responsible adulthood. If they are unaware, then would someone in the media please pass on the message.
My fellow humans, we are all brothers and sisters, members of a species, a family. We are in this world together. Unless we are truthful with each other now, that family may well become fatally dysfunctional. If there were no new children involved I'd be tempted to say well we get what we deserve ……. yet to subject our children to our neuroses, to leave them the mess we have created, to codemn them to fear and insecurity when we can change, when we could create a worldwide sense of community that would include all peoples, that would be the worst crime ever. The world is not ending. It is the illusion that we can continue being this dishonest and brutal with each other that is ending. I write in hope and compassion. I hope you can hear my heart.
17th September 2001 to The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The New York Times
To whom it may concern,
Politicians, writers and anyone else who would lead armies of young men and women to their deaths, who would sponsor terrorism, are human beings with dysfunctional issues. They are projecting their unresolved pain onto the world, then running around trying to deal with it by blaming and hurting other people. People like Osama Bin Laden, or The Reverend (?) Ian Paisley or President George Bush Snr., who gave money to Pakistan to train mujhadin guerillas to kill Russian kids in Afghanistan, or the IRA, or ETA, or the Crusading Christians of the middle ages who sought to destroy Islam, to reclaim the so called "Holy Land", for example. If they are not dysfunctional ideologues, if I have got it wrong, then they must really be evil people. I have no answer to that.
Being Irish, I can understand that desire to lash out, when one is oppressed, which is born of frustration and pain. On a personal level I was a victim of sadistic priests and nuns in Catholic Irish boarding schools in the 1960's. I grew up a very angry young boy, and hurt many of my loved ones for a large part of my life. On a national level we (the Gaelic nation) were victims of imperialsim and colonialism for over 1600 years. We were very angry too.
Nonetheless, any violent acts carried out by Irish "patriots" as a response to invasion, imprisonment and slavery, and similarily the hurt that I once dished out were, and are still, an inappropriate response, an ugly descent into the worst attributes of humanity. Mahatma Ghandi once said that "an eye for an eye leaves the world blind" - what he meant was that violence begets violence, and is always the worst way to deal with conflict, because it throws a veil over the reality of the situation by defining it in black and white terms, by creating a futile and ultimately false polarisation, a seperation that allows blame, and avoids responsibility..
Life is not polarised. Life is full of shades of meaning, subtleties of action, weaves of interaction. Life is inclusive by nature. Polarisation, on the other hand, is exclusive, a defence mechanism, a very human dysfunction that nourishes fundamentalism, breeds ignorance and provokes fear. It is also used, by individuals and groups, to manipulate situations, to stiffle discussion, to force issues. It is an all too familiar political tool. I myself have seen this in the course of my seperation and divorce some years ago. I have since learned to talk openly, honestly and patiently with a view to creating a win-win situation when ever there is disagreement betwixt myself and another.
What we have at present, worldwide(ish), is an oppurtunity to start the long process of doing this. If we miss this oppurtunity to speak openly and honestly with each other, if we are too impatient, we may well suffer for it in ways that will make the suffering of the past look mild by comparison. Our children may suffer even more terribly. That revolts me. The progression of dysfunction is such that if the signs are missed the situations become more and more extreme. Continuing down that pathway is utter madness. True cowardice.
I recommend the talking stick and circle that the wise Native Americans developed many eons ago. Every body has their say. Nobody takes sides. Nobody has a veto. The whole community learns. Learns to trust the collective wisdom of all of us together. The wisdom of the love in our hearts that is thwarted by our dysfunctional need to put our own interests before those of our community. Speak. Talk. Share. Bring your truths to the table. Spill no more blood. What could be simpler?
18th September 2001 email to John Gaunt @ Londonlive, BBC Radio
To whom it may concern,
Have you ever been in an argument where you have felt hurt, and have then lashed out at your opponent, or vice versa? Have you ever had to apologize for such behaviour? Has the apology allowed you to continue the discussion in such a way as to arrive at a win-win situation? Do you have any in-depth understanding or experience of the succesful management of human conflict dynamics? Would you be willing to find out what that could look like? There are plenty of people who have. Myself for one. Without this basic information and understanding, we are all condemned to belligerence, polarisation and continued conflict.
We are all here together in this mess, and unless we recognise and accept our connectedness to each other, and are prepared to honestly examine our basic psychology, we will not succed in ending terrorism, war or poverty. We will justify our actions to protect our egos. As a good friend of mines says "I'd rather be close, than right". Well I'd rather we humans were closer to each other, close enough to talk through our problems, for as long as it takes, untill we arrive at a win-win situation. I wish Mr. Bush and Ariel Sharon and Mrs. Thatcher and Osama Bin Laden and the rest of us felt this way. As I said earlier on your programme - it takes two to tango? Shall we dance?
Yours in love, compassion and honesty.
Corneilius D. Crowley
19th September 2001 email to John Gaunt @ Londonlive, BBC Radio
To whom it may concern,
Dear John, I'm Irish, so I like to talk. Ooooooppppps! Thank you for your brisk and honest presenting. I don't believe in talking without getting anywhere. So, no talking shops. I know you understand that we don't have to agree, during this discussion, and that we can only come to a better shared understanding in time by exploring those disagreements, as long as we operate on the basis of a win-win resolution of our conflicts as the final and only valid outcome.
This is not a debate where one side tries to "win" the agrument. That's a juvenile way of behaving. In true discussion there is neither victim nor vanquished, there are re-assured and enlightened people. We all need re-assurance now.
So you cut me off …… ok, it's part of the show, keeping it flowing. But when the radio is switched off, I am still thinking about all the hurt humans, myself included, I am still wanting to contribute to the difficult discussion that we are having, I am still talking to my many friends, near and far, writing letters, praying, feeling. I hope I never diss anyone else, or their ideas and that my respect and love for all humanity and life itself is the foremost in my mind and heart, while I contribute. I take no offence when dissed, though I might feel different emotions flowing through me during this intense time for us all. I'm not alone in this, am I?
With regard to Wednesdays on-air chat, what I didn't get across was the idea that if we agree to continue to wait a while and all put up our hands in a truly honest and sincere unvetoed UN discussion about the way we (the nation states) all operate, (ie: putting our individual interests before those of other members of the community in economic, political and military areas) it could lead us to three very potent and unprecedented opportunities.
1. In jointly accepting a shared responsibility for the way things are, and sharing in the efforts to rectify the situation, without focussing on blame, by virtue of the discussion I had in mind, we would show each other our strength together as Humanity, a species, and that would surely underpin everybodys' sense of commitment to world peace and freedom. It would give the world community the highest possible moral ground.
2. By forming a consensus, we could empower every idividual, as well as every governing body on the planet, to take part in the work of building a safe and secure world for all our children. We would be sending a message to all people that would be more attractive than that of the fundamentalists. We would eventually erode their support base in the communities where they exist. The UN charter on Human Rights must be seen to be in fullest practice in all countries. This is a massive task, and will take time. We cannot fight attitude with attitude. We can offer attractive realities (living conditions) based on sharing resources for the common good
3. In the meantime, to deal with those responsible for the New York slaughter of innocents, and all other terrorist atrocities, we must of course isolate and detain those responsible, which will include those who sponsor, incite or harbour in any way, acts of terrorism and we would use the International War Crimes Tribunal that exists to bring these people before their peers (the rest of us) to account for their actions, to atone for the consequences. In other words, only a complete cease-fire, followed by negotiations, would show genuine good intention, alongside Anti-incitement laws enshrined in freedom of speech which are part of the UN charter of Human Rights. If that is not forthcoming then that is the time to discuss further assertive action and only then. And only by the World Community.
We do have the technology, and the means to enable the proposals I am submitting. Do we have the willpower? I realise all too well that I have only a very limited knowledge of what is happening in the world. There is much that is unseen to me, which may well affect these proposals. All I can say is the more we know about this situation, the clearer we will be in our subsequent actions, and that we must be totally sincere in all our efforts to deal with terrorism and the causes of terrorism. Now, where have I heard that phrase before?
5th October 2001 to The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, The Independent, The Guardian
To whom it may concern,
I ask you to join in the call on the United Nations and all National Governing Assemblies to hold immediate talks on the current world situation. The reasons, parameters and possibilities surrounding such a discussion are outlined below.
I know you understand that we can only come to a better shared understanding by exploring our disagreements honestly, and as long as we operate on the basis of a win-win resolution of our conflicts as the final and only valid outcome of our discussion, we will succeed. This is not to be a debate where one side tries to "win" the argument. In any truly empowering discussion there is neither victim nor vanquished, there are reassured and enlightened people. We all need reassurance now.
The suggestion is that if we take part in a truly honest and sincere unvetoed discussion in the UN and in our National Governing Assemblies reflecting on the way we (the nation states) currently operate (ie: putting our individual interests before those of the other members of the community in economic, political and military areas) it could lead us to three very potent and unprecedented opportunities.
1. In jointly accepting a shared responsibility for the way things are, and by agreeing to fully sharing in the efforts to rectify the situation, without focusing on blame, we would show each other our strength together as Humanity, and that would surely underpin everybody's sense of commitment to world peace and freedom. It would give the world community the highest possible moral ground. It is a proven approach to conflict resolution.
2. By forming such a consensus, we could empower every individual, as well as every governing body on the planet, to take part in the work of building a safe and secure world for all our children. We would be sending a message to all people that would be more attractive than the message of those who would stoop to violence to effect change.. We would eventually erode their support base in the communities where they exist. The UN charter on Human Rights must be seen to be in fullest practice in all countries. This is a massive task and it will take time as well as resources. We cannot fight attitude with attitude. We can offer attractive realities (living conditions) based on sharing our resources for the common good
3. In the meantime, to deal with those responsible for the New York slaughter of innocents, and all other terrorist atrocities, we must of course isolate and detain those responsible, which will include those who sponsor, incite or provide support in any way for acts of terrorism and we would use the International Crimes Tribunal that exists to bring these people before their peers (the rest of us) to account for their actions, to atone for the consequences. We would look towards long-term reconciliation, rather than retribution.
Yours in trust and hope for the future,
October 6th 2001 Letter to The Times, The Independent, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian
To whom it may concern,
With regard to terrorism, war and armed conflict, we are in danger of reversing years of hard work by thousands of committed individuals in learning how to live in peace, to find resolution through negotiation, to enable a dignified life for all our fellow men, women and children.
The crux of the matter is that while the UN is the best placed entity to deal with the violent conflicts in our world, by virtue of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it's effectiveness is undermined by the United States, Russia, China, France and Britian by virtue of their Security Council veto, and the unwillingness of the US, and others to make a full financial contribution, (the us currently owes $1.334 billion, or 54% of the UN overall budget).
The United Nations has achieved much over the past 50 years, yet could have done so much more were it not for the use of veto by Russia, Britain, China, France and the US, to protect their own interests. It is clear in 2001, as we are edging towards more terrorism and war, that we desperately need an internationally empowered body that can bring those in conflict to the conference table and keep them there until resolution is found.
The United Nations is the obvious choice, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the obvious guideline, and the decision to rescind the veto the obvious way forward. Most nations presently in the UN want this to happen. In other words self-interest cannot be put above the interests of the wider community.
I sense that in some respects Mr. Blair has in his keynote speech set the stage for a national and international discussion about the misery of billions of our fellow humans that we are helplessly witnessing, and a review of our commitment to sharing our wealth to alleviate this needless suffering. I feel that it is now our duty to have this conversation here in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland, and to promote such a discussion elsewhere, by entering into it fully.
We are now all aware of our responsibility, so let us discuss how best we can discharge that responsibility, with maturity, vigour, candour and a commitment that is real and visible. I invite the tabloids and the broadsheets, the broadcasters and spin doctors, the councillors and Rt. Hons, the vicars, mullahs and rabbis, the educators and workers of our green and pleasant land to show your mettle, to rise from the gutter of opinion and rumour, to explore this issue in depth, to empower the best in all of us, to work honestly to heal the divisions in our society, to truly get involved in the greatest of works. Be an example to each other of pluralism, generosity, honesty and strength. Go on. I dare you!
October 8th 2001 email to Jon Gaunt, BBC Radio, London Live
Gaunty, Here's the crux of the matter.
1. The UN exists, and is the only legally empowered international governance body we have.
2. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights exists, and is legally enforcable, in all 189 member states., including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, The United Kingdom and The United States of America..
3. There is hardly any nation whose hands are clean in this matter. ie: we are all involved in the causes.
4. Proven conflict resolution technology is applicable to this situation, and has been applied successfully in Rwanda, East Timor and many other places by the UN.
5. It will only work if everyone is truly committed to the process.
6. It will only happen when enough people worldwide clearly understand the above points, and put enough pressure on the politicians and industry/finance leaders to behave according to our wishes. Remember the GM food on our shelves? People power removed them.
7. All violence is innapropriete, even if we can undestand why someone could feel like being violent. Violence fails for two reasons. Firstly the destruction of another removes the other, without dealing with the issue between the protagonists itself; secondly it is a cyclic dynamic. In order to break the cycle you must first stop being violent.
The key issue here is public awareness -- which means giving people who can explain and verify all of the above, an opportunity to communicate to empower people rather than the portrayal of a series of one-sided opposing arguments as is so often the case on air, in print, on screen, in the back of a taxi-cab and in the pub. Debate is a product of pedagogy and ideology. Empowered discussion is a product of compassion and empathy.
I wonder if Bush, Blair, Thatcher, Chirac, Putin et al., had the patience of the Dalai Lama, the determnination of Nelson Mandela, the clarity of Ghandi and the self-honesty of those many people who have experienced psychotherapy/counselling and conflict resolution in their own lives, would we be doing what we are doing now?
20 October 2001 Letter to The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Sun
To whom it may concern,
Resolutions made by the United Nations General Assembly must be unanimous before action may be taken to effect them. That is its strength.
Yet, when the General Assembly reaches a decision, those members who hold veto rights can simply say no to the resolution without any legal requirement of explanation or substantiated justification to the assembly or they can choose to abstain. And the result is that the resolution can go no further. It cannot require further discussion, negotiation or in any way further the development of that particular Resolution.
The Assembly is forced to start all over again, to try to make a new resolution, less critical than the previous, in the hope that it will get past the veto holders (hidden) objections. Either way it's just a sulk. That is its weakness.
The United Nations General Assembly is subject to a convention, (the veto), that is widely held to be undemocratic. What kind of democracy is possible with such a situation? Only the democracy of the big sulk!
The General Assembly of The United Nations, after 7 years of discussions, has come to the conclusion that the veto is undemocratic, and that change is now required for the greater good of all nations. I qoute UN GA Press release 9826 17 November 2000 wherein it said:
"With the sole exception of the permanent five members of the Security Council, Member States found the veto and its present practise outdated and unacceptable, as it ran counter to the democratic character of the United Nations."
We the people have spoken. We demand real accountability at National and International Governance level. I call on everyone who can, in whatever way they see fit, to join in the campaign, to insist that the veto be rescinded and that the United Nations be finally allowed to carry out it's mandate, which is to end war by bringing conflicting parties to the negotiation table.
This insane situation where the champions of democracy are party to a most undemocratic law, which undermines the very organ of international democracy and human rights from being that instrument, has got to be remedied. We must do this for all our children. Anything less may well constitute a direct breach of the duty of care, the principle that underlies the justice of law.