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Archives –- Philosophical Reflections: The UN and a New World Order

Seminar on Global Governance and UN Reform, Wellington, New Zealand, June 25-26, 1993, organized by UNANZ.

Gita Brooke's contribution to the theme "Philosophical Reflections: The UN and a New World Order", subtitled - "Sovereignty and the balance between national/political independence and global economic and humanitarian interdependence"

Some time during 1942 in the dark times of war and the German occupation of Denmark, I had a stupendous flash of insight. As the daughter of a Lutheren minister, I knew that such revelations came from God and therefore were bound to have their origin in the bible. So I rushed into my father's study, eager to share this overwhelming experience with him, and I started to quote what I was totally convinced were the words of Christ: "verily, verily", I said, " Verily, verily I say unto you, unless you find the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, you will not find it anywhere else". The pause that followed told me something was not quite right. My father then - as gently as he could - said that, apart of course from the verily verily bit, my quote was not from the bible.

However, even today I believe, with all my heart, that we are here on earth to bring forth the Kingdom of Heaven. In my heart I know that the vision of a heavenly world is not as remote as a distant star. It is within me, within humanity, as the oak tree within the acorn, in the process of coming into being. In the fullness of time the sons and daughters of humankind, who are also the sons and daughters of God, will make Heaven manifest on earth.

"We are all meant to be the mothers of God" says Meister Eckhart and asks: "What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen hundred years ago and I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and in my culture?"

In these times when humankind is willy-nilly brought closer together through a sophisticated communication system and through the many challenges and opportunities, which concern and involve us all, it is urgent that we reconnect with the concept of being the mother of the coming civilization and get in touch again with the divine design, the blueprint, imbedded in the mind of humanity, which can give us guidelines for the building of a new world society. This blueprint has through the ages given rise to many interpretations and helped us to gain many skills and much understanding of causes and effects. We must now take the next step and embark upon yet another phase of our earthly venture.

I share these philosophical reflections because I hope they will come to be seen as relevant to the subtitle I was given for this talk: "Sovereignty and the balance between national/political independence and global economic and humanitarian interdependence".

After two bloody and painful wars to overcome a power which sought sovereignty over the entire world, the inspirational text of the Preamble of the United Nations Charter confirms the sentiments of a war-weary humankind that "we, the Peoples of the United Nations are determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war". The Preamble then goes on to emphasize the fundamental rights, dignity and worth of the individual human being. Only after stressing the equal rights of men and women does it also mention the equal rights of all nations large and small. And in order to promote social progress and a better standard of life, it says that we must practise tolerance and become good neighbours. These words are eternally young and reflect the vision, wisdom and simplicity of ancient scriptures and sacred books. It is only when the succeeding chapters of the charter spell out the rules and regulations for establishing an "international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples" that the text seems to have been ageing with time and to have become heavy, cumbersome and unmanageable. All forms must abide by the law of seasons and, when the time comes, graciously give way to new ones, better serving the continuous striving to unfold inner potential.

Since 1945, public awareness of the diversity and complexity of the expanded human family has dramatically increased and the issues of equality, human rights and sound relationships between us all has become a growing concern throughout the world. Greed, corruption, mental, emotional and physical abuse, and all kinds of exploitation, whether on the individual or national scale, are being exposed, profoundly shaking our trust in each other and in the Establishment. It is evident that society, as we have known it, is falling apart and the call for change is rapidly gaining momentum. Humanity is clamouring for a new world order. Governments and people in powerful positions everywhere are agonizing over how to manage, organize - and tame - this dymanic flow of energy, before it does too much damage to the status quo! Politicians are struggling to define - perhaps even confine - the concept of a new world order but, as Professor Hans Koechler points in his "Philosophical Reflections on the UN and the New World Order" the predicament is that we are trying to shape a new world order with the structures of an old international system.

While it may initially be humbling to admit that our human level intelligence and wisdom has not always been of the very highest calibre - as is evident enough from the course of human history on earth - we may perhaps now have sufficient wisdom to realize that it might seem a little foolish to refuse to let our minds, with true discrimination, be infused by the energies of higher levels of wisdom and intelligence. To think that this would be shirking the responsibility to solve the problems we have created as a human family would be no more valid than to claim that an individual human being should in no circumstances, however grave, ask or be given any assistance from his neighbours. We exist on earth to care for and to give and receive service to and from one another. It is simply a matter of opening our eyes to an understanding of the fact that we live in a wider network of interrelationships than many of us may hitherto have suspected and that our planet is not a closed system, an isolated unit any more than are our nations, our families or our individual selves.

I think an increasing number of people are looking to the United Nations, hoping that it will become the instrument for bringing about right relationships between peoples, nations and environment, that it was destined to be. It is therefore all the more regrettable that, again quoting Hans Koechler, that the old fashioned maxim of "might makes right" has found its way even into the UN Charter. He also raises the most important question of how we can possibly bridge the wide gap between "idealistic vision of the Preamble and actual rules and procedures of the Charter regulating the international exercise of power".

Without going into too many analytical details, I think one can safely say that the societal systems of the world's nations are reflecting humanity's collective striving and struggle for better lives, materially speaking. Independent of where we may be on the economic and social ladder, as individuals or as nations, we still strive for more of everything; our sense of security has become closely connected with personal comfort; we defend, tooth and nail, our individual and collective right to fight for or maintain whatever standard of living we wish to achieve or have already achieved, and we would rather make handsome donations in aid of the "unfortunate ones" than change a system within which the number of its victims are steadily increasing. Much political power is engendered through controlling and maintaining such a type of society, where good neighbours can be bought and sold and unholy alliances are struck between rich and poor, powerful and weak. Societal systems based predominantly on materialistic values will understandably have a vested interest in keeping any "idealistic vision" at a distance and calling idealists impractical dreamers, out of touch with reality.

However, whether we want it or not, changes are coming. A new lease of life is stirring within the hearts and minds of humanity, which will not be confined within old structures. We must supply new skins for the new wine. As one Teacher of humanity (Djwhal Khul) explains it: "Every kingdom on earth is encumbered with shock - animal, vegetable, mineral as well as human. This disturbance is a phase of promotion. There are crashed areas of released energy causing forces to be freed, which again can and will be used for reconstruction." In the warmth and moist of decomposing matter, the seed of a new civilization thrills with life ready to burst into manifestation.

United Nations has been presented with the most unique opportunity to lead the way in the restructuring of global society. The family of nations must show the courage and willingness to re-write the rules, procedures and principles of the UN Charter so that each nation - and each person within each nation - can participate in the process of transformation, and the vision of the Preamble come to life in all relationships.

This is not going to be easy. While we people throughout the world seem to agree that changes are sorely needed, the challenging question is: How willing are we as individuals to make even the smallest sacrifices for such changes to come about? As persons, we either dread the word "equality" or use it as a battle cry, yet all of us may agree on the need for a fairer distribution of world resources. We may deplore the sovereign right of a nation to pollute the atmosphere, destroy the natural environment or persecute a minority within its borders, and still we often habitually do the same within our little territory.

I believe that this is a matter which needs to be discussed openly and honestly and which has the most profound relevancy to the restructuring of the UN and the establishing of a new world order. Because, before I, the individual human being, within the unity of nations, am willing to change, no real and lasting changes can in fact come about. If we people continue to keep our vision of the ideal society at arm's length and mock the idealist; if we keep pretending that a few surgical corrections of the old will make it new, we shall continue the dreary, life-less and uninspired merry-go-round of or-organising the status quo, busily preoccupying ourselves getting nowhere.

The word sovereign means supreme ruler, someone possessing supreme power. I am bound to agree with the growing number of people, even within so-called democracies, who are getting increasingly reluctant to continue to give their allegiance to the rulership of today. Sovereignty has, in the eyes of many, come to stand for fiercely independent individuality, using supreme power, influence and authority to achieve selfish goals, often totally disregarding the needs and rights of others. - In a media workshop at the recent Peace, Power and Politics conference, a journalist, referring to the increasing monopoly of newsmedia, reminded us of the fact that, nowadays, media is simply a business and that: "An institution seeking to make profit should not be expected to give moral leadership".

Hans Koechler is quite adamant that "only a total restructuring of the UN Charter along the lines of an 'idealistic' doctrine of international relations will pave the ground for an international system of peace and collective security that deserves this name." For this to happen, he insists, the present so-called realist dogma of power politics, based on undisputed interests of sovereign states, will have to be abandoned. State sovereignty must be seen as secondary to the sovereign status of the individual human being, and the concept of sovereignty must imply the principle of mutuality, that is to say, the mutual respect for each other's freedom and basic rights. - I pray that Hans Koe chler's thoughts will be taken to heart by the UN and by us, the world's people.

We must supply new skins for the new wine. As one Teacher of humanity (Djwhal Khul) explains it: "Every kingdom on earth is encumbered with shock - animal, vegetable, mineral as well as human. This disturbance is a phase of promotion. There are crashed areas of released energy causing forces to be freed, which again can and will be used for reconstruction." In the warmth and moist of decomposing matter, the seed of a new civilization thrills with life ready to burst into manifestation.

United Nations has been presented with the most unique opportunity to lead the way in the restructuring of global society. The family of nations must show the courage and willingness to re-write the rules, procedures and principles of the UN Charter so that each nation - and each person within each nation - can participate in the process of transformation, and the vision of the Preamble come to life in all relationships.

I believe that this is a matter which needs to be discussed openly and honestly and which has the most profound relevancy to the restructuring of the UN and the establishing of a new world order. Because, before I, the individual human being, within the unity of nations, am willing to change, no real and lasting changes can in fact come about. If we people continue to keep our vision of the ideal society at arm's length and mock the idealist; if we keep pretending that a few surgical corrections of the old will make it new, we shall continue the dreary, life-less and uninspired merry-go-round of or-organising the status quo, busily preoccupying ourselves getting nowhere.

Hans Koechler is quite adamant that "only a total restructuring of the UN Charter along the lines of an 'idealistic' doctrine of international relations will pave the ground for an international system of peace and collective security that deserves this name." For this to happen, he insists, the present so-called realist dogma of power politics, based on undisputed interests of sovereign states, will have to be abandoned. State sovereignty must be seen as secondary to the sovereign status of the individual human being, and the concept of sovereignty must imply the principle of mutuality, that is to say, the mutual respect for each other's freedom and basic rights. - I pray that Hans Koe chler's thoughts will be taken to heart by the UN and by us, the world's people.

The word sovereign means supreme ruler, someone possessing supreme power. I am bound to agree with the growing number of people, even within so-called democracies, who are getting increasingly reluctant to continue to give their allegiance to the rulership of today. Sovereignty has, in the eyes of many, come to stand for fiercely independent individuality, using supreme power, influence and authority to achieve selfish goals, often totally disregarding the needs and rights of others. - In a media workshop at the recent Peace, Power and Politics conference, a journalist, referring to the increasing monopoly of newsmedia, reminded us of the fact that, nowadays, media is simply a business and that: "An institution seeking to make profit should not be expected to give moral leadership".

This is just one glaring example of the irresponsible realist dogma of power politics. Sovereignty has come to mean material power, the power of matter - a means through which we seek self-satisfaction, mentally, emotionally and physically.

However, if we wish to seek the source of supreme power, one road may be to follow the scientists' example when they explore into the atom. Their research seems to lead them ever further into the realm of pure dynamic energy, where the quality and identity of the particles within the sphere of the atom can only be registered by the observer through interaction. We human beings could perhaps equally be seen as self-conscious sparks of life, who also become identifiable within the system we belong to through relationship; with each other, with other creatures and beings and with our environment. May not therefore the principle of both sovereignty and mutuality be found within this realm of pure energy; this common source of Life, from which originates the irresistible urge and desire of each and every seed of life to manifest its own unique quality and design?

Within the sphere of this Sovereign Entity, all beings - including the human - breathe the same life; all hearts beat as one, and within every unit, from atom to human, dwells a portion of the same vision and purpose, which it is the supreme right, duty and service of all to contribute as participators in the striving of all creation towards the same goal.

Sovereignty is today in the process of freeing itself from its bondage to materialism, and as the structures of power politics collapse, we have the unprecedented opportunity to replace these with lighter, more inclusive and transparent ones and bring new order to our common future home. Brian Urquhart, after 41 years at the UN, says that - what we for so long have hailed as realism "is often a euphemism for shortsightedness, self-interest and policies lacking in the necessary courage and vision. Idealism, with an element of utopian thinking, is a far more realistic approach than self-styled realism'.

I can think of nothing more important in these days when humanity is, as Brian Urquhart puts it, "floundering from crisis to crisis" than for the United Nations to show a new type of leadership and with courage and vision embark upon a total reconstruction of its Charter. The Charter must come to embrace and facilitate the participation of us the people in the shaping of our future. For years an ongoing public debate has raised the awareness of people everywhere on social and environmental issues, has stirred our conscience and matured many of us into realizing our co-responsibility for the sad state of affairs in the world. It is timely that the United Nations opens its doors and lets humanity in. In the restructuring, one must hope and pray that the UN will resist old habits and not again gravitate towards becoming a heavily organized institution. Let us hope it will resemble more a living organism, developing with sensitivity and intelligence in accordance with the purpose described in the Preamble of its Charter; and organism, made up of a unity of single nations and peoples; with a nervous system registering the pains and needs, the failures and successes of all its parts; with a heart beating in concord with all living things, ensuring that no blockages are allowed to hinder the flow of essentials to all corners of the organism, and with a head where all strategies for the welfare and well being of the whole are discussed with intelligence and farsightedness and decided upon in full view of the entire world society.

A new world order could then perhaps come to be seen as being the realization that humankind is in essence of divine origin, and that we are here to make the earth our heavenly home. Such an agreement would ensure that future laws would be based on spiritual values; that they would apply to all human beings equally, and that the meaning of these laws, more than their letter, would be adhered to. Lama Govinda expresses it so well when he says: "It is not sufficient merely to spiritulise our life, but what we need is to materialize our spirit. To despise matter for the sake of spirit is in no way better than mistaking matter to be the only reality".

There is one word in the title of this talk that I have not yet touched upon. It is the important word 'balance'. There is very little balance to be seen or felt within the world today. Breaking out of the confining walls of old structures, we seem almost deliberately to be steering into a state of chaos in search of a new balance, new order and new freedom of expression. This is, it seems, nature's own way of growing, constantly and continuously dying and giving birth to itself. And although casualties are more than probable within this tumultuous time of change, all planetary life participates in it, with hope and anticipation of things to come. Within this chaos, within the labour of giving birth, there is a point of balance where the direction is held clear and steady, and where directives are received and followed, midwifing the mother through the natural process of bringing in a new life. This point of poised calm and clarity, of dynamic peacefulness, is described by A.L. Kroeber, the anthropologist, as "the highest state of tension that the organism can bear creatively". Engulfed in today's personal and collective crises, humanity, as one, has the glorious opportunity of lifting all imbalances into the highest possible point of creative tension, accumulating all the dynamic energy necessary for opening the door wide into the beginning of something new and potentially wonderful.

May I in conclusion give some personal thoughts on a more democratic United Nations. I believe that:

  1. Our shared Sovereignty originates in the Supreme Source of Life beyond, yet including, matter, bestowing upon each self-conscious unity within the whole of humankind the right and the privilege to express the purpose for living. This purpose lies as a seed within our being, to be unfolded and revealed through our labour. This makes nonsense of the present right of veto, whether exercised within the United Nations or by any other institution or person.
  2. A strong and direct link between us, the peoples of the United Nations, and the UN itself should be established, through which we can actively participate to shape our common future, and
  3. The future United Nations will more resemble a vibrant and alive organism than a world organization, possessing heart, nervous system and intelligence, bringing us all together into one interdependent cooperating whole.
  4. For this to come about I envision a person within each ministry of governments, within each regional and district council, or their counterparts in other lands, to provide a vital communicating link between UN reports, recommendations and policies and those of national and regional government departments and offices. This would have a significant educational value, enhancing awareness of the impact of local decision-making on the wider community and vice versa. It would also make the United Nations more relevant to us ordinary people throughout the world and help us to change from passive to active members of the UN family.

    And lastly, we could, officially or un-officially, declare each of the remaining years of the old millennium a Jubilee Year: forgiving debts and trespasses, and letting the light of truth shine into all dark corners, flushing out the debris of old accumulations.

    Could not we also, before we leave the old age behind, give thanks for all lessons learnt, for every experience teaching us what is and what is not good and true?

____________________
 
Anthony and Gita Brooke email : optubrookiana@xtra.co.nz