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Beth Coulter

SOC 245

June 2003




Reaction Essays




Peace and Conflict Studies




David P Barash

Charles P. Webel













Chapter 13 – 15


“If the United States is to avoid the costs and dangers of a unilateral role as world policeman, it would seem that…reliance on the United Nations is in order (text 359).”


We have nothing to fear but fear itself.









            I am a great believer in “associative (344)” situations, where solutions are found in the bonding together, not tearing asunder.  Before the global aspect of this can be fully understood, a smaller example should be investigated.  Not in the Nation, or the State, but the personal.

            Some people have what is called “Multiple Personalities”, many “people” sharing the same body.  Each feels sovereignty within it’s own conception of who s/he is, separate from what is viewed as the “whole”.  Some personalities feel the only way to join the whole is to “die” as an individual, so internal fights develop; leading to external injuries, which in turns wounds all.

            But if any parts “die”, the “whole” is decreased by that amount.  An analogy I think works is to think of a dry sponge.  Using the sponge to soak up individual drops of liquid does not cause death on either end.  It creates a new entity, a wet sponge.  Nothing is lost or diluted, only a complete melding of disparate entities.  But just as the sponge is found in nature as a wet object, the resulting whole personality is simply a reversion to the natural state of being, before trauma caused splitting.

            I view the world as a whole that is living in a dysfunction of split off parts.  Each part (nation, state, country…) guards jealously its sovereignty, choosing to pursue destruction of the whole before letting the individual part die.  The European Union has taken the first steps to the “integration” that I describe, but it does not go far enough.  The world as a whole must enter into working for the whole.

            The League of Nations (345) tried to export this theory, but instead of an integrative solution, they tried to work at a cooperative.  In the Multiple Personality example, this is in effect telling all the fragments that they are more important than the whole.  True growth is impossible because each part is obsessed with keeping the status quo.

            In reading the text, the more I find reasons to blame my country for the greatest evils of the 20th century.  As our nation became more class oriented, the elite made decisions based on cash value rather than (as the Founding Fathers planned) societal value.  By refusing to join the League of Nations, “the United States [served] as a ‘strikebreaker’; foiling any attempts at economic sanctions against (347)” aggressive nations.

            This refusal to join allowed Hitler to amass the military needed to march across Europe.  The twelve million lives lost in the Holocaust can be directly attributed to America’s failure to care for anyone but it’s own.  This failure to act lead to massive bloodshed and lost lives for American’s, and the first detonation of a nuclear weapon.  What a waste for the sake of temporary isolationism.  Pre-emptive sanctions didn’t offer a readily visible profit margin.

            The founding of the United Nations was a step in the right direction.  But it’s greatest flaw is in the Security Council.  Going back to the personal example, it is akin to telling some more fully developed personalities that they are in full charge over the lesser.  Resentment builds because each part intuitively knows it is of equal importance to the whole.  This is what occurs when the United States, China, France, etc. tell nations like Estonia and Libya, etc that they have no real say in governing the world.

            If the US stands for democracy, why is there a lack of true democracy in the UN?  Because of the limitations of state sovereignty superceding council decisions (351), it really does not matter what the majority decides.  Most recently, this was illustrated by the US bypass of the UN in the Iraq War.  The majority of the world demanded other options.  The UN needs to restructure dramatically in order to work in the long run.

            The United Nations must meet it’s vision; a world government for planetary concerns (353).  No nation/state can supercede another; no single authority can have global resources.  Every country starts on equal footing.  International law (372) supercedes state sovereignty.  I believe the current crisis is setting the stage for the development of this reinvigorated United Nations - a Federation of Nations, each with it’s individual customs and cultures, each sharing a planetary concern.  The only enemy is a common one; the destruction of our Earth.  It will not matter who was the “Superpower” if the planet is incapable of supporting life.  It is “imperative that we think as planetary citizens (388)”.

            I have long agreed with Rousseau’s conclusion “that ownership of private property (390)” is the underlying cause of war.  We must regard the earth as a shared resource, using Marx’s Maxim for division of goods.  The world government would be the arm in which the goods would be distributed.  Wars would not have any gain factor and thus would fade into history.  Governments exist for the comfort of it’s citizens.  If aspects of domestic life were assured, the world population would eventually embrace such a system.  Most human beings despise war and senseless killing.  A guarantee to end all that suffering is not hard to see.  Each nation would gain so much.  As the great Golda Meir said, “Internationalism doesn’t mean the end of individual nations.  Orchestra’s don’t mean the end of violins (396)”. 

            World citizens must embrace the knowledge that “a man’s reach must extend his grasp; else what is a heaven for (R. Browning)”.  They, as the various personalities, must grant supreme importance to the whole; over and above the individual.  It is a scary risk for all those involved, a fear of losing identity makes people balk.  But a clear vision of bonded individuals in a universal diversity exists.  The United Nations can be the tool to make those visions reality.









Chapters 17 & 18


Michael exclaimed he wanted the moon.  Before he knew it, the big moon was sitting heavily in his lap, obscuring his view. ‘What will you do with it now?’ asked Jane.  ‘I don’t know.’ Michael replied unhappily, squirming to relieve himself of the burden.”

Mary Poppins


“We cannot make peace with the planet until nations make peace with each other. (481)”









            Human rights, contrary to popular opinion, are on equal par with planetary rights.  The racism, sexism and general oppression are evils on the scale of deforestation and the destruction of our oceans.  But because the trees, birds and fish have no voice, their abuse is not looked at as oppression.

            “Ultimate values have been derived from social order, not the individual (432)”.  Entitlement of rights therefore is contingent upon the society.  Since only Humans set up these particular societies, Mother Nature is left out.  Our “moral arrogance (ibid)” therefore discriminates on the basis of a strict moral and physical code.  This administration seems to have taken Plato to heart, seeing themselves as “Philosopher-Kings”, deciding on the entitlement rights for the world with no consideration for diversity.

            I live on the northern edges of the “Great Quakertown Swamp”, a rich, biodiverse plot of land.  It is home to North America’s largest Great Blue Heron Rookery.  The herons could not nest if it were not for the complex cycle of biodiversity.  Birds and animals drop seeds that grow into trees.  Other seeds grow into water plants that feed the insects and fish, which feeds the birds and animals.  These plants eventually choke the life out of adult trees, leaving tall, secure bases for the heron nests.  The rookeries depend on the death of the trees, which also adds nutrients that enrich the ground, giving life to other plants.

            Thus is life in total.  Every life, human or not, relies on another life.  Every death is both a loss and a benefit for life in some way.  So planetary rights are symbiotically linked with human rights.  “Socioeconomic rights (437)” must be considered for all things on earth.  Working in a balance would benefit all.  Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (438)” is the rally cry of earth, not only groups of humans.

            Most indigenous people understood this basic link between all the energies.  For this knowledge, they have been oppressed, abused and in some cases, eradicated (439).  When truth is held up to the profit/loss measure, truth loses.  Women seem to instinctively acknowledge this link also, which may partially explain why the patriarchy has tried to oppress women’s rights.

            The United States approach to “rights-giving” has a strong backing in the profit margin factor, not only cash value, but popular opinion.  We did nothing as the Taliban oppressed every freedom, destroying global artifacts (the Giant Buddha’s), and executing anyone who failed to live in the manner demanded.  There was no “gain” in freeing an oppressed people.  But when that oppression led to a direct strike on the United States, then public opinion became an invaluable commodity (441).

            FDR, in a speech to congress in 1941 identified our four basic freedoms – Freedom of speech and religion, and Freedom from want and fear (444).  But these freedoms are not extended outside of our country.  Sixty percent of Iraqi’s wish to elect an Islamic theocracy in a democratic election.  The occupying forces refuse them that right, and keep the majority of citizens in want and fear.  It is no wonder most of the world views the US as hypocritical.  The UDHR (ibid) outlines rights that all UN members undertake to “promote universal respect for and observance to (445)”, but when the United States disregards this mandate, few other nations see a reason to obey.

            The world can only see now, as in the past, the US promotion of human rights is “used as a moral pretext in connection with colonial conquest (446)”.  We march into Iraq to “liberate an oppressed people”, however the only thing truly liberated are the oil fields while the populace at large is oppressed by US soldiers.  We are only inviting further attacks upon our shores with these actions.

            Thomas Jefferson went out of his way to point out “governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from consent of the governed (450)”.  In the past 200 years, the consent of the governed is accepted as a right to the authorities, who expect the consent to remain static, regardless of their actions.           

            The upsurge of dissatisfaction rides on Karl Jasper’s theory; “There exists a solidarity among men as human beings that makes each co-responsible for every wrong and every injustice in the world (456)”.  It is this feeling of responsibility, indeed, of obligation that is driving the universal cry of “unfair”.

            I believe all humans on the deepest level are aware of being part of a grand whole, not masters of all we survey.  The “green” movements that are gaining momentum are based in the knowledge that our planets biodiversity is crucial for all life to continue past the next few generations.  Human rights mean nothing if there are no resources to claim rights to.

            The elite depend on the status quo to uphold their rights, but “life itself requires change (462)’.  To resist change only brings it about violently.  A river that wishes to change it’s path will only be stymied by dams, until it breaks through and runs the way it wants.  It may take hundreds of years, but nature will eventually win out over human designs and greed.

            We, as world citizens, must choose to work with the earth, to protect it and renew what we have destroyed.  When human beings treat the earth with equal rights, so will humans grant the same to all life on earth.

            “A world at peace is one in which environmental, human rights, and economic issues all cohere to foster maximum growth and well-being (478)”.  Capitalism is not productive to the above statement.  Economic issues are at the forefront of every decision made, regardless of the human and ecological damage it creates.  Even the religious creeds give authority to Men to rape and pillage the earth, for being made in God’s image, man can do no wrong (482).

            Any goal of peace therefore must require of man to give up his illusions of Godliness and understand that we, as humans, are only a small part of what constitutes life on this planet.







Chapters 19 – 21


You must live proactively, not reactively,

just as you must go to school to educate yourself, not to be educated.

Beth Coulter, Selected Essays













            “[War] is essentially a parasite, feeding off the economic and social strengths of societies, and like most parasites, it weakens the host (492).”  In a world filled with immense suffering, need we really add this parasite to the mix?  “The absolute gab between global rich and poor is widening (488)”, this gap being filled with the soldiers of poverty.  The rich don’t fight the wars, they simply gain the benefits.  The poor only benefit from the decrease in surplus population, freeing resources.  This is not a good way to run the planet.

            The poverty on our planet has much to do with overpopulation.  Children raised in poverty are more likely to be abused, creating damaged adults who contribute to the decline of the society.  “The rich get richer, the poor get children (501)” and damaged adults raise these children.  My anger was intense when our current administration changed birth control measures to third world countries.  Instead of abortions and birth control pills, the women are given condoms and counseling in abstinence.  I do not think that will keep a man from taking her when he decides.  Thus, the US can keep the world in turmoil so that our citizens can feel relatively secure.

            After all the difficulties presented in the text regarding the establishment of global peace, it might be easy to feel that it is hopeless.  Fortunately, there are still souls who understand “satyagraha”, Gandhi’s concept of soul truth/soul force.  I am one of those who has embraced these ideals through self-reflection.  I cannot express my joy at reading Gandhi’s words for the first time and seeing my own thoughts reflected there in my text.

            I have suffered more than a person can comprehend.  It is horrifying to others to think of the abuse I survived.  But from the earliest times I can remember, I knew suffering would be what freed me, and that anger and hate had no real use.  I try to understand what drove people to hurt and use a child.  I pity them if anything, and take a perverse pleasure at the knowledge they would hate my pity.

            I believe I have the courage to make a major change in the world.  My core philosophy lays in “Ahimsa”, nonviolent love (512).  My compassion and tolerance has sometimes been mistaken for victimhood, but I do not get hurt.  My gentle patience disarms the hate, confusing those who wish to hate me.  I have been “reduced to zero (514)” by my life and restored to more than I ever could have been.  It is my calling to share my journey, maybe to spare the suffering and sorrow it takes to change for others.  My Satyagraha bids me to make the difference for the millions of Peace Soldiers who are trapped in the whirlpool of subsistence living, trying to grab as much as they can while letting what really matters fly away.  They are waiting for the voice in the wilderness, the sane light in the carnival funhouse.

            “Nonviolence unleashes a remarkable kind of power, a ‘force’ with which most people are unaccustomed (517)”.  I have seen this force work on people as they see the courage of my convictions.  I live as I say and say as I live.  I see the awe on their faces as a little piece of their brain absorbs the universal truth I share.  But I still face debate, especially when short-term ends look good regardless of the means, i.e. the first week we took Baghdad.  I was emphatically writing that “the end never justifies the means” as the statue toppled, even as I was confident the good news was temporary and mostly false.

            I must consider Lenin’s statement, that “to achieve our ends, we will unite even with the devil (518)” when I look at Bush and his “coalition of the willing”.  Only in this case, I put the United States in the role of Satan.  We are using hate, violence and oppression to fight hate, violence and oppression.  The day is close where the great awakening will occur, and Love will be the only answer.

            During the months preceding the invasion of Iraq, some younger people asked me what I thought they should think in all the confusion.  My answer was to educate themselves and think about all sides in the argument.  Those who did so came out against the war.  Those who wanted the war could not be bothered to think, and they wanted those who did to shut up.  But the truth must be told, regardless of the consequences.  For “the choice today is no longer between violence or nonviolence.  It is between nonviolence or nonexistence (524)”.

            My philosophy final strives to answer the question; who is responsible for the continued oppression of abuse victims?  The final answer was the abuse victims themselves buy into a toxic cycle of secrecy, bringing oppression down on themselves and their children.  Working to uplift the abused will do much toward stabilizing societies, which will lead to a peaceful world.

            During the course of reading and writing these papers, I have had an “epiphany” about the course of my life.  I find my goals expanding.  At first, my only goal was to help abuse victims recover and learn to live.  Then I wanted to fight for peace.  But I wanted to do all this from the safety and comfort of my apartment, minimizing human contact.  I didn’t want to step into messy emotions while I was so occupied with intellectual pursuits.  But as a favorite professor once told me, when I got to the connection between my fear and my emotions, this new clarity would begin to fill my vision.

            Thanks to this course, that connection has been made.  I’m not afraid any longer to love deeply and care widely.  I’m no longer reluctant to embrace everyone who needs it.  I no longer fear losing myself in someone else’s emotions.  I know that like all the brightest lights in the universe, I may be assassinated for publicly disturbing the status quo.  All I can say is it is my greatest gift to change the world, and if my death is required, I will gladly give it.  My words will go on long after I’ve shed this physical shell.  Once heard, they can never be unheard.